ESP Biography



CATHERINE HAVASI, Researcher in Natural Language Processing




Major: Media Lab

College/Employer: Not available.

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of Catherine Havasi

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Catherine is a researcher in Natural Language Processing. She graduated from MIT in 2003 with a degree in Computer Science and finished her MEng the following year and took a bit longer to get her doctorate. She also co-directed the first Splash on Wheels at Hudson High School in February of 2006 and co-directed the Theater Subprogram at Splash 2005.

When she's not at ESP she enjoys tea, hiking, board games, music, lots of theater, and even more bad ideas. She is one of the founding board members of Learning Unlimited, which brings Splash-like programs to other colleges and universities.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Common Sense Reasoning for Artificial Intelligence in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
When people communicate with each other, their conversation relies on many basic, unspoken assumptions. We often learn the basis behind these assumptions long before we can write at all, making them difficult for computers to learn. These assumptions underlie all forms of human communication from teaching, to giving directions, to ordering dinner at a restaurant. A user who interacts with a computer interface, however, can become frustrated because the computer does not understand their goals and motivations. For human-computer interaction to become as fluent as communication between humans, computers need to be able to understand the user’s basic, unspoken assumptions. These assumptions form the body of knowledge known as “common sense” and we’ll be discussing how it is collected and used by the AI research community.


Introduction to Computational Lingusistics in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
In this class, we'll cover the basics of computational linguistics, which is a branch of both artificial intelligence and linguistics. We'll talk about some machine learning techniques we can use to make computers understand and reason with language.


Introduction to European Games in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
Tired of Monopoly, Taboo and Trivial Pursuit? This class will introduce “European-style” board games, which range from monks in a monastery trying to solve a murder mystery to settling an island to building Arabian palaces. These games are social, fun and themed while still incorporating interesting strategy. We'll explore several varieties of European games, including some specific examples, and examine sources for these games. This class will include, of course, a “games tasting” session, where we will break into groups and play some of these games. Estimated attendance: 10 students (including other sections of the same class).


Improv Workshop in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
You're the host of a party where everyone is spontaneously turning into chickens. You're a film director with a time machine. You're a row of dominoes contemplating their purpose in life. Act accordingly. In improv acting, you and a few other people are given an odd, open-ended situation, and together you act out a scene on the spot. If you've seen "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", you know the general idea. Improv is easier than you think! You don't need any acting or improv experience. We'll start with some games that get you thinking on your toes and building on each other's creativity. You'd be surprised what kind of scenes you can create.


Common Sense Reasoning for Artificial Intelligence in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
When people communicate with each other, their conversation relies on many basic, unspoken assumptions. We often learn the basis behind these assumptions long before they can write at all, making the difficult for computers to learn. These assumptions underlie all forms of human communication from teaching, to giving directions, to ordering dinner at a restaurant. A user who interacts with a computer interface, however, can become frustrated because the computer does not understand their goals and motivations. For human-computer interaction to become as fluent as communication between humans, computers need to be able to understand the user's basic, unspoken assumptions. These assumptions form the body of knowledge known as ``common sense'' and we'll be discussing how it is collected and used by the AI research community.


How to be Evil: Using language and math to know everything about everyone in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
We live on the internet, leaving small digital breadcrumbs everywhere we go. The words we use, the movies we rate, the causes we support, and the transactions we participate in can be analyzed to yield greater understanding of who we are. This understanding can work to our advantage, or it can benefit those who wish to sell us something... or it can be used for more devious purposes. We'll talk about modeling, prediction, and collaborative filtering. We'll look at how we can understand a community's spending patterns, figure out which customers will like what products, or carefully craft candidates' stump speeches so they will appeal to the most people. We'll also explore the astounding amount of information you can determine about someone from something as simple as the language they use.


Actors' Workshop in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
Do you love acting, or want to get into it? Want to learn the basics and explore a few interesting parts? Or do you want to see how to make your roles more specific, how to add power and truth to the lines you utter? While we may not be able to answer every acting question, what we can do is create a supportive environment where we can all work on scenes and develop our skills with guidance from some experienced directors. We'll talk about acting, the process that goes into it and how to improve. Together, we'll work on some scenes: we'll split up, each work on a role, and then present them to each other at the end. From this class, you'll see some new perspectives on what goes into portraying a role convincingly, and you'll also get to work on your acting skills in a focused but low-stress environment. If you're new to acting, or if you've had years of experience, you are welcome here!


Common Sense Reasoning for Artificial Intelligence in SPLASHONWHEELS (2008)
When people communicate with each other, their conversation relies on many basic, unspoken assumptions. We often learn the basis behind ...


Introduction to European Games in SPLASHONWHEELS (2008)
Tired of Monopoly, Taboo and Trivial Pursuit? This class will introduce “European-style” board games, which range from monks in a ...


Actors' Workshop in SPLASH (2007)
Do you love acting, or want to get into it? Want to learn the basics and explore a few interesting ...


Common Sense Reasoning for Artificial Intelligence in SPLASH (2007)
When people communicate with each other, their conversation relies on many basic, unspoken assumptions. We often learn the basis behind ...


Improv Workshop in SPLASH (2007)
You're the host of a party where everyone is spontaneously turning into chickens. You're a film director with a time ...


Introduction to European Games in SPLASH (2007)
Tired of Monopoly, Taboo and Trivial Pursuit? This class will introduce "European-style" board games, which range from monks in a ...


Sound Design in a Nutshell in FIREHOSE (2006)
Sound design is one of the more noticeable aspects of technical theater design. Either through subtle music, a simple soundscape ...


Introduction to Technical Theater in SPLASHONWHEELS (2006)
A brief and very energetic introduction to the world of technical theater. We'll talk about the part of theater that ...


Non-linear Styles of Thinking in SPLASHONWHEELS (2006)
Linear vs. Non-linear. Is it really that simple? Nope! We will examine a half-dozen different ways that people look at ...


Python! in SPLASHONWHEELS (2006)
No, not the snake. I'm going to attempt to teach all of you the wonderful programming language Python. It's a ...


Underachievement - Changing Your Perspective in SPLASHONWHEELS (2006)
A lot of students are told how bright they are, and yet, "Why aren't you living up to your potential?!" ...


Acting Workshop in SPLASH (2006)
We'll talk about acting, the process that goes into it and how to improve. Together, we'll work on some scenes; ...


Behold the Power of Cheese in SPLASH (2006)
The world is populated by many different types of cheeses. Learn what's beyond chedder and swiss. We will learn about ...


Behold the Power of Cheese in SPLASH (2006)
The world is populated by many different types of cheeses. Learn what's beyond chedder and swiss. We will learn about ...


Improv Workshop in SPLASH (2006)
You're the host of a party where everyone is spontaneously turning into chickens. You're a film director with a time ...


Improv Workshop in SPLASH (2006)
You're the host of a party where everyone is spontaneously turning into chickens. You're a film director with a time ...


Introduction to European Games in SPLASH (2006)
Tired of Monopoly, Taboo and Trivial Pursuit? This class will introduce "European-style" board games, which range from monks in a ...


Sound Design in SPLASH (2005)
Sound design is one of the more noticeable aspects of technical theater design. Either through subtle music, a simple soundscape ...


The Splash Theatre Program in SPLASH (2005)
Join us in one of the wildest Splash experiments ever. We're going to start from scratch and write, act in, ...