ESP Biography



DAVIE ROLNICK, Fourth-year MIT Ph.D. student in Applied Math




Major: 18

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Davie Rolnick

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Davie Rolnick finished his undergrad at MIT in 2012, studying math (graph theory ftw!) and music (OPERA). After a year studying in Berlin under a Fulbright grant, he is back at MIT for a Ph.D. When he's not doing math or singing, Davie writes, teaches, and dives into forests in search of birds and insects.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


If I were in your shoes in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Some people value discipline, some courage, some honesty. Some people feel themselves defined by their faith, or their interests, or their gender. In this seminar, we'll explore value systems and identities and work on relating to people with different underlying assumptions.


Amazing Insects in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Come learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills! Find out why fruit is red and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow. Look at insects that pretend to be poop, insects that hide in poop, and insects that eat poop. In this class, we will see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful.


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Amazing Insects in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
Come learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills! Find out why fruit is red and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow. Look at insects that pretend to be poop, insects that hide in poop, and insects that eat poop. In this class, we will see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful.


Dramatic reading: Arcadia in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
Join us for a group reading of "Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard. May involve time, tortoises, the mathematics of entropy, and carnal embrace (offstage). Parts will swap regularly, come prepared to improvise. "We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short." Et in Arcadia ego.


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Much Ado About Shakespeare in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Come read through Shakespeare's master comedy, Much Ado About Nothing! We'll read through the play, taking breaks to switch parts and eat snacks.


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Amazing Insects in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Come learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills! Find out why fruit is red and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow. Look at insects that pretend to be poop, insects that hide in poop, and insects that eat poop. In this class, we will see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful.


Amazing insects in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
Come learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills! Find out why fruit is red and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow. Look at insects that pretend to be poop, insects that hide in poop, and insects that eat poop. In this class, we will see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful.


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Geometry in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
We will present a whirlwind tour of Euclidean geometry - mostly triangles and circles. Topics covered shall include cyclic quadrilaterals, power of a point, triangle centers, and geometric constructions.


Graph theory in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
This course will present a rapid introduction to graph theory, a rich and fascinating branch of mathematics that has applications to many other fields, such as computer science and biology. We’ll start with the definition of a graph, discuss fundamental concepts like bipartite graphs, cliques, and colorings, and then use these tools to examine important problems of graph theory, like the four-color theorem.


Dramatic Reading: The Importance of Being Earnest in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone." Join us for a seriously whimsical reading of Oscar Wilde's classic play. We will take turns portraying different characters, with occasional intervals for tea and muffins. We'll probably be finished after two and a half hours.


Graph theory in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15 - 16, 2014)
This course will present a rapid introduction to graph theory, a rich and fascinating branch of mathematics that has applications to many other fields, such as computer science and biology. We’ll start with the definition of a graph, discuss fundamental concepts like bipartite graphs, cliques, and colorings, and then use these tools to examine important problems of graph theory, including Ramsey numbers.


Euclidean Geometry in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15 - 16, 2014)
We will present a whirlwind tour of Euclidean geometry - mostly triangles and circles. Topics covered shall include cyclic quadrilaterals, power of a point, triangle centers, and geometric constructions. Problems will be solved in class.


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15 - 16, 2014)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Insects! in Spark 2014 (Mar. 15 - 16, 2014)
Come learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills! Find out why fruit is red and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow. Look at insects that pretend to be poop, insects that hide in poop, and insects that eat poop. In this class, we will see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful.


Insects! in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Would you like to learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills? About why fruit is red, how to avoid mosquitoes, and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow? About insects that look like poop, insects that hide in poop, and still others that eat it? About how there is a world of fascinating life visible in a single square foot of weeds? In this class, we will explore insect ecology from the rainforests of Bolivia to the sidewalks of MIT, see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful, and find out how to see and study miracles in one’s own backyard.


Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Dramatic Reading: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Just when you thought you knew the story of "Hamlet," the playwright Tom Stoppard wrote "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead." Join us for a dramatic reading of the text! Coax Hamlet out of madness, bow to Queen Gertrude, and get frustrated as everyone mixes up whether you're Rosencrantz or gentle Guildenstern.


Euclidean Geometry in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
We will present a whirlwind tour of olympiad-style Euclidean geometry. Topics covered shall include cyclic quadrilaterals, power of a point, triangle centers, and spiral similarity, as well as more specific results such as the Theorems of Napoleon, Pascal, and Miquel. Problems will be solved in class.


Graph theory in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
This course will present a rapid introduction to graph theory, a rich and fascinating branch of mathematics that has applications to many other fields, such as computer science and biology. We’ll start with the definition of a graph, discuss fundamental concepts like bipartite graphs, cliques, and colorings, and then use these tools to examine important problems of graph theory, including random walks, percolation, and Ramsey numbers.


Insects! in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Would you like to learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills? About why fruit is red, how to avoid mosquitoes, and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow? About insects that look like poop, insects that hide in poop, and still others that eat it? About how there is a world of fascinating life visible in a single square foot of weeds? In this class, we will explore insect ecology from the rainforests of Bolivia to the sidewalks of MIT, see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful, and find out how to see and study miracles in one’s own backyard.


Insects! in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Would you like to learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills? About why fruit is red, how to avoid mosquitoes, and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow? About insects that look like poop, insects that hide in poop, and still others that eat it? About how there is a world of fascinating life visible in a single square foot of weeds? In this class, we will explore insect ecology from the rainforests of Bolivia to the sidewalks of MIT, see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful, and find out how to see and study miracles in one’s own backyard.


Telephone Pictionary in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Calling all hilariously terrible artists ;). Telephone pictionary is exactly that - telephone with pictionary. Players stand in a line and the first player is given a word or phrase. They must, through the rules of pictionary, communicate this word or phrase to the next player. Hilarity ensues.


Insects! in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Would you like to learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills? About why fruit is red, how to avoid mosquitoes, and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow? About insects that look like poop, insects that hide in poop, and still others that eat it? About how there is a world of fascinating life visible in a single square foot of weeds? In this class, we will explore insect ecology from the rainforests of Bolivia to the sidewalks of MIT, see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful, and find out how to see and study miracles in one’s own backyard.


Insects! in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Would you like to learn about beetles with suction cups, ants that explode, and wasps that use metal-tipped drills? About why fruit is red, how to avoid mosquitoes, and what the fireflies are talking about when they glow? About insects that look like poop, insects that hide in poop, and still others that eat it? About how there is a world of fascinating life visible in a single square foot of weeds? In this class, we will explore insect ecology from the rainforests of Bolivia to the sidewalks of MIT, see why insects are so interesting and, in many cases, beautiful, and find out how to see and study miracles in one’s own backyard.


SET in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Come play SET! Beginners and experts both welcome.