ESP Biography
BIANCA HOMBERG, ESP Teacher
Major: 62 College/Employer: X Year of Graduation: G 

Brief Biographical Sketch:
Not Available. Past Classes(Look at the class archive for more.)Robots! Space! Time! Stories! in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19  20, 2016)
Interested in science fiction, futuristic engineering, artificial intelligence or interplanetary empires? Ever wondered what would happen if people lived forever? What would happen if the world split in two every time you had to make a choice, and both options happened? What would happen if there was a center of time where time stood still?
Come read a few of the short stories of Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time. We'll spend an hour devouring tales of robots, space, and time!
Robots! Space! Time! Stories! in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21  22, 2015)
Interested in science fiction, futuristic engineering, artificial intelligence or interplanetary empires? Ever wondered what would happen if people lived forever? What would happen if the world split in two every time you had to make a choice, and both options happened? What would happen if there was a center of time where time stood still?
Come read a few of the short stories of Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time. We'll spend an hour devouring tales of robots, space, and time!
How to Cause the Robot Apocalypse in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21  22, 2015)
Robots are cool  and there's a growing number of super awesome, capable robots, from selfdriving cars to humanoids.
Here's a smattering of what robots are capable of:
Big dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww
Passive walking robot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2Q2Lx8O6Cg
Darpa challenge 2015 robots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P9geWwi9e0
Selfdriving car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsaESOTzM
Modular cubes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aZbJS6LZbs
Soft gripper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5kZO8SSxVw
In this class, we'll talk about some of the cool robots that exist. We'll talk about what problems have been wellsolved and what problems still remain as important, key challenges, from technical challenges to robot ethics.
Fun with Electronics! in HSSP Spring 2015 (Feb. 21, 2015)
Want to make things you can interact with? Come build with us! :D
We'll start from the very beginning and teach you everything you need to know to make small, cool electronics projects and give you the skills and resources for where to learn more after the class! You'll get to take home most of what you make. Please don't register for this class if you have prior experience with electronics  you'll be bored!
Project list (subject to change):
Week 1: Toothbrush robots!
Week 2: Racing robots
Week 3: A light that turns off when you turn it upside down
Week 4: Solar phone charger + solar robots
Weeks 57: Intro to Arduino, ending with a line following robots
Robots! Space! Time! Stories! in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22  23, 2014)
Interested in science fiction, futuristic engineering, artificial intelligence or interplanetary empires? Ever wondered what would happen if people lived forever? What would happen if the world split in two every time you had to make a choice, and both options happened? What would happen if there was a center of time where time stood still?
Come read a few of the short stories of Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time and excerpts from the book Einstein's Dreams, which describes numerous different ways in which time could work. Come spend an hour devouring tales of robots, space, and time!
Zero to Infinity in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22  23, 2014)
Suppose I have a hotel with infinitely many rooms all in a row, all of which are full. If another person shows up, can I find away to rearrange people so that the newcomer has a room? What if I have infinitely many new people who need rooms?
Are there more integers or natural numbers? More real numbers or natural numbers?
Are there multiple sizes of infinity, or just one?
Interested in infinity? Ever wondered about questions like these? Want to spend an hour learning cool stuff to stretch your mind? Then come take this class! (We'll cover definitions and some proofs, but the focus will be on gaining a more intuitive understanding of mindblowing math versus mathematical rigor.)
Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22  23, 2014)
Suppose I'm a donut salesman, and I want to sell my donuts to a bunch of different cities. I know travel times between pairs of cities  how can I calculate the most efficient path to sell donuts at all of the cities?
Suppose I'm a thief, and I just tripped an alarm. I have five minutes before the police get here to fill my knapsack. I know the values and sizes of all of the possible objects I can steal. How do I make off with the most value in my small knapsack?
Suppose I have a bunch of strange dominos, with different letter combinations on top and on bottom. Each domino has a set orientation. Suppose I want to set up the dominos so that the top line reads the same as the bottom line. Can I do it?
In this class, we'll talk about problems like these, and more generally, what sort of problems computers can and can't solve, starting with DFA's and working our way up to Turing machines!
Build a robot! in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15  16, 2014)
Come learn the basics of circuits and build a small robot! Learn how to wire up LEDs and motors, using a switch and a breadboard! You'll be designing your own robot, so, if you'd like, come with ideas and/or small recyclables.
Zero to Infinity in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15  16, 2014)
Suppose I have a hotel with infinitely many rooms all in a row, all of which are full. If another person shows up, can I find away to rearrange people so that the newcomer has a room? What if I have infinitely many new people who need rooms?
Are there more integers or natural numbers? More real numbers or natural numbers?
Are there multiple sizes of infinity, or just one?
Interested in infinity? Ever wondered about questions like these? Want to spend an hour learning cool stuff to stretch your mind? Then come take this class! (We'll cover definitions and some proofs, but the focus will be on gaining a more intuitive understanding of mindblowing math versus mathematical rigor.)
Codes and Cryptography in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15  16, 2014)
For Mary Queen of Scots, a broken cipher meant her execution. For the Allies during WWII, a broken Enigma code meant lives saved and war significantly shorter. When you can read your enemies' private communication, you know what they're thinking and what they're planningand such information is never a bad thing.
Come learn how to send messages that your friends won't be able to readand even better, how to break the secret messages that other people have sent! We'll cover a few different kinds of ciphers, including Caesar shifts, substitution ciphers, and the Vignere cipher.
Most of this will take the form of you all working in groups trying to break code; there will be hints if you need them. If we have time, you'll make up your own ciphers and try to decipher each others messages.
Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15  16, 2014)
Computers are powerful, sure. But can they compute anything you want them to? Is there anything computers absolutely can’t figure out, no matter what? The answer here is yes—computers are not omnipotent.
In this class, we’ll prove mathematically that despite whatever clever algorithms people can come up with, there will always be problems that are impossible for a computer to solve. We’ll look at few examples, including the Halting Problem. Along the way, we’ll encounter and investigate a variety of theoretical constructs which compute: deterministic finite automata (DFA’s), pushdown automata, context free grammars, and Turing Machines. We'll also explore what kinds of problems these can solveand prove which ones are more powerful.
Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23  24, 2013)
Computers are powerful, sure. But can they compute anything you want them to? Is there anything computers absolutely can’t figure out, no matter what? The answer here is yes—computers are not omnipotent.
In this class, we’ll prove mathematically that despite whatever clever algorithms people can come up with, there will always be problems that are impossible for a computer to solve. We’ll look at few examples, including the Halting Problem. Along the way, we’ll encounter and investigate a variety of theoretical constructs which compute: deterministic finite automata (DFA’s), pushdown automata, context free grammars, and Turing Machines. We'll also explore what kinds of problems these can solveand prove which ones are more powerful.
Splay trees are magic! in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23  24, 2013)
Computer programs need to store and manipulate databut that data can stored in many different ways! Sometimes it makes sense to store data in a binary tree, but in order to maintain quick lookups, binary normally need to be balanced. And there are lots of different specialized binary trees for different applications.
That's where the magic comes in: splay trees don't stay balanced, but are in many cases provably as or more efficient than more complicated, specialized data structures for particular types of problems. And it gets betterthe (asyet unproven) dynamic optimality conjecture proposes that for any sequence of accesses of elements, splay trees are at least as efficient as a specialized data structure which knew the sequence of accesses ahead of time!
Build a robot! in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23  24, 2013)
Come learn the basics of circuits and build a small robot! Learn how to wire up LEDs and motors, using a switch and a breadboard! You'll be designing your own robot, so, if you'd like, come with ideas and/or small recyclables.
Computability, Computational Complexity, and the Mind in HSSP Spring 2013 (Mar. 02, 2013)
Computers are powerful, sure. But can they compute anything you want them to? Is there anything computers absolutely can’t figure out, no matter what? What about your brain? Are brains more or less powerful than computers?
In this class, we'll focus mainly on theoretical computer science: figuring out what problems computers can solve, what they can't, and how fast. Here, we'll look at some of the borders of what we've been able to prove and what we haven't (the P v. NP problem, for instance). Over the course of the 7 weeks, you'll become familiar with several different models of computation, including finite automata, context free grammars, and Turing machinesboth their capabilities and their limitations.
Throughout the course, we'll also look at questions of philosophy and artificial intelligence through this computational lens. In addition to rigorous math and algorithms, we'll look at excerpts from books and articles by Marvin Minsky, John Searle, Ned Block, and Isaac Asimov to bring external ideas* to the discussion.
We'll be doing both significant thinking about math and algorithms and indepth discussionthere will be strong aspects of math, computer science, and philosophy. Classes will contain a mix of interactive lecture, group problem solving, and discussion.
*In particular, we'll look at parts of Marvin Minsky's Society of Mind, which outlines a theory of how the mind might work; Searle's writing about his Chinese Room argument, Ned Block's "The Mind as the Software of the Brain", and excerpts from Isaac Asimov's iRobot.
Codes and Cryptography in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
For Mary Queen of Scots, a broken cipher meant her execution. For the Allies during WWII, a broken Enigma code meant lives saved and war significantly shorter. When you can read your enemies' private communication, you know what they're thinking and what they're planningand such information is never a bad thing.
Come learn how to send messages that your friends won't be able to readand even better, how to break the secret messages that other people have sent! We'll cover a few different kinds of ciphers, including Caesar shifts, substitution ciphers, and the Vignere cipher.
Most of this will take the form of you all working in groups trying to break code; there will be hints if you need them. If we have time, you'll make up your own ciphers and try to decipher each others messages.
Zero to Infinity in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Suppose I have a hotel with infinitely many rooms all in a row, all of which are full. If another person shows up, can I find away to rearrange people so that the newcomer has a room? What if I have infinitely many new people who need rooms?
Are there more integers or natural numbers? More real numbers or natural numbers?
Are there multiple sizes of infinity, or just one?
Interested in infinity? Ever wondered about questions like these? Want to spend an hour learning cool stuff to stretch your mind? Then come take this class! (We'll cover definitions and some proofs, but the focus will be on gaining a more intuitive understanding of mindblowing math versus mathematical rigor.)
Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17  18, 2012)
Computers are powerful, sure. But can they compute anything you want them to? Is there anything computers absolutely can’t figure out, no matter what? The answer here is yes—computers are not omnipotent.
In this class, we’ll prove mathematically that despite whatever clever algorithms people can come up with, there will always be problems that are impossible for a computer to solve. We’ll look at few examples, including the Halting Problem. Along the way, we’ll encounter and investigate a variety of theoretical constructs which compute: deterministic finite automata (DFA’s), pushdown automata, context free grammars, and Turing Machines. We'll also explore what kinds of problems these can solveand prove which ones are more powerful.
Codes and Cryptography in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17  18, 2012)
For Mary Queen of Scots, a broken cipher meant her execution. For the Allies during WWII, a broken Enigma code meant lives saved and war significantly shorter. When you can read your enemies' private communication, you know what they're thinking and what they're planningand such information is never a bad thing.
Come learn how to send messages that your friends won't be able to readand even better, how to break the secret messages that other people have sent! We'll cover a few different kinds of ciphers, including Caesar shifts, substitution ciphers, and the Vignere cipher.
Most of this will take the form of you all working in groups trying to break code; there will be hints if you need them. If we have time, you'll make up your own ciphers and try to decipher each others messages.
Robots! Space! Time! Stories! in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17  18, 2012)
Interested in science fiction, futuristic engineering, artificial intelligence or interplanetary empires? Ever wondered what would happen if people lived forever? What would happen if the world split in two every time you had to make a choice, and both options happened? What would happen if there was a center of time where time stood still?
Come read a few of the short stories of Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time and excerpts from the book Einstein's Dreams, which describes numerous different ways in which time could work. Come spend an hour devouring tales of robots, space, and time!
Introduction to Robotics! in HSSP Spring 2012 (Feb. 18, 2012)
Want to get a taste of robotics? Come design, build, program, test (and redesign, reprogram, and retest) a Lego robot! This class will start from the basics, teaching you how to program your robot and some good robot design principles. From there, we'll teach you how to make your robot follow a line, respond to a clap, and retreat when it bumps into something. The class will be mostly projectbased, and you'll be free put what you've learned to use and spend time designing and building a robot to maneuver an obstacle course. The last week of the class, we'll have a fullclass competition to see what your robots can do!
Rubik's cube jewelry in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Make earrings, necklace pendants and key rings in the shape of Rubik's cubes to show off or give to your friends.
Please Note: This class will end halfan hour early.
Paper Engineering! in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Come build awesome things out of paper! We'll have different engineering challenges using paper, rotating every half hour. Build paper airplanes, bridges, and towers!
Zero to Infinity! in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Suppose I have a hotel with infinitely many rooms all in a row, all of which are full. If another person shows up, can I find away to rearrange people so that the newcomer has a room? What if I have infinitely many new people who need rooms?
Are there more integers or natural numbers? More real numbers or natural numbers?
Are there multiple sizes of infinity, or just one?
Interested in infinity? Ever wondered about questions like these? Want to spend an hour learning cool stuff to stretch your mind? Then come take this class! (We’ll cover definitions and some proofs, but the focus will be on gaining a more intuitive understanding of mindblowing math versus mathematical rigor.)
Scooping the Loop Snooper in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Want to understand this: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/loopsnoop.html?
Computers are powerful, sure. But can they compute anything you want them to? Is there anything computers absolutely can’t figure out, no matter what? The answer here is absolutely yes—computers are not omnipotent.
In this class, we’ll prove mathematically that despite whatever clever algorithms people can come up with, there will always be problems that are impossible for a computer to solve. (We’ll look at one particular example called the Halting Problem). Along the way, we’ll encounter and investigate two theoretical constructs which compute: deterministic finite automata (DFA’s) and Turing Machines.
Ranting about Set Theory in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Took Zero to Infinity? Already know the material from that class, but still interested in the subject? Want to learn more about set theory, infinity, logic, or paradoxes? Then come take this class! Topics covered may include ordinals, cardinals, ordinal/cardinal arithmetic, construction of the natural numbers, Russel's Paradox, ZermeloFraenkel axioms for set theory, the Axiom of Choice, and more! All based on what *you* want to learn.
Salsa dancing in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Come learn to dance salsa! We'll go over the basic step and a couple of building blocks, and in no time at all you'll be salsaing around Lobby 13.
Zero to Infinity in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19  20, 2011)
Suppose I have a hotel with infinitely many rooms all in a row, all of which are full. If another person shows up, can I find away to rearrange people so that the newcomer has a room? What if I have infinitely many new people who need rooms?
Are there more integers or natural numbers? More real numbers or natural numbers?
Are there multiple sizes of infinity, or just one?
Interested in infinity? Ever wondered about questions like these? Want to spend an hour learning cool stuff to stretch your mind? Then come take this class! (We'll cover definitions and some proofs, but the focus will be on gaining a more intuitive understanding of mindblowing math versus mathematical rigor.)
Intro to Programming in Scratch in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19  20, 2011)
Ever wanted to learn some programming, but didn't know where to start? Do you want to be able to quickly make animations or animated stories? Ever wanted to make a computer game to share with your friends? Come learn Scratch, an introductory graphicsbased programming language! And what's awesome, Scratch is available to download for free online, so you can keep using it after Splash and even share your projects online. (See http://scratch.mit.edu/ to get an idea of what it's all about or start playing around with it beforehand.)
The Halting Problem in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19  20, 2011)
Computers are powerful, sure. But can they compute anything you want them to? Is there anything computers absolutely can't figure out, no matter what? The answer here is absolutely yescomputers are not omnipotent.
In this class, we'll prove mathematically that despite whatever clever algorithms people can come up with, there will always be problems that are impossible for a computer to solve. (We'll look at one particular example called the Halting Problem). Along the way, we'll encounter and investigate two theoretical constructs which compute: deterministic finite automata (DFA's) and Turing Machines.
Swing Dancing in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19  20, 2011)
Come learn how to swing dance! We'll start from the basic steps and move onto more complicated steps as time allows. No partner necessary; everyone will be rotating and switching partners as we go anyway.
Zero to Infinity in SPICY Delve 2011 (Oct. 23, 2011)
Suppose I have a hotel with infinitely many rooms all in a row, all of which are full. If another person shows up, can I find away to rearrange people so that the newcomer has a room? What if I have infinitely many new people who need rooms?
Are there more integers or natural numbers? More real numbers or natural numbers?
Are there multiple sizes of infinity, or just one?
Interested in infinity? Ever wondered about questions like these? Want to spend an hour learning cool stuff to stretch your mind? Then come take this class! (We’ll cover definitions and some proofs, but the focus will be on gaining a more intuitive understanding of mindblowing math versus mathematical rigor.)
