ESP Biography



JAMES KOPPEL, CS grad student at MIT




Major: Computer Science

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of James Koppel

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Not Available.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Finite Automata in Spark 2018 (Mar. 17 - 18, 2018)
Would you like to find patterns in text? Prove your program doesn't have an infinite loop? Monitor a nuclear reactor? Find structure in DNA? In this class, you'll learn about finite automata. Finite automata, or "state machines" can be thought of as just moving a marker between some states according to some simple rules, but their simplicity hides deep mathematics and allows you to manipulate them in interesting ways. We'll start with the basic definition and take you through the math and into some powerful applications.


Make and Play a Didgeridoo in Spark 2018 (Mar. 17 - 18, 2018)
awuwuwuwuuuuweeorweeorwadelewadelewu! The didgeridoo is an Australian instrument that adds a tribal flair to any situation. In this class, we'll build our own didgeridoos out of PVC pipe, and then learn to play them. With the didgeridoo, you can create a variety of rhythms, produce animal noises, and make yourself sound like there's two people playing! For people with little to no experience.


Being an Immovable Object in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
If you twist your shoulder in the right way, you can lift twice as much. Tense your abs in the right way, and you can punch three times as hard. Whether you like martial arts or yoga, dancing or football, or even if you just want to seem more confident when presenting, you can do more with less effort when you put your body in a position of stability. So come to this class and get better at everything!


Being a Proud Tribesman in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
Give an American soldier a heavy pack, and moving becomes harder. Give it to an African villager, and moving becomes easier. Turns out they're just better at walking than us. And standing and sitting. Come learn why everything you know about posture is wrong. Superpowers to be had from this class include the ability to see things directly behind you and being able to sleep on a wooden log. Some increase in height may be expected. Warning: Upon completion of this class, your life may feel like an endless massage. You may also experience a sudden urge to replace all your furniture.


Gröbner Bases and Term Rewriting in Splash 2017 (Nov. 18 - 19, 2017)
Solving systems of linear equations is easy. How about systems of polynomial equations? We're not really going to teach you that. Instead, we're going to teach you about Gröbner bases, a crazy way of representing spaces of polynomials, which also gives the ability to solve polynomial equations. Actually, we're not going to really teach you that either. Instead, we're going to go into a separate branch of mathematics called Term Rewriting and teach you about Knuth-Bendix Completion, a "meta-algorithm" which can take definitions of equality and give you an algorithm for telling whether two things are equal. We'll present Gröbner Bases as a special case of Knuth-Bendix Completion. We might even have time to solve a polynomial equation or two!


Finite Automata in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Would you like to find patterns in text? Prove your program doesn't have an infinite loop? Monitor a nuclear reactor? Find structure in DNA? In this class, you'll learn about finite automata. Finite automata, or "state machines" can be thought of as just moving a marker between some states according to some simple rules, but their simplicity hides deep mathematics and allows you to manipulate them in interesting ways. We'll start with the basic definition and take you through the math and into some powerful applications.


Chaotic Reduction: Play the Math in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Chaotic Reduction is a computer game that turns mathematical problems into puzzles. We will study famous problems such as the Post Correspondence Problem and Conway's Soldiers in computer game form, and then make our own levels!


Make and Play a Didgeridoo in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
awuwuwuwuuuuweeorweeor<roaaaar>wadelewadelewu! The didgeridoo is an Australian instrument that adds a tribal flair to any situation. In this class, we'll build our own didgeridoos out of PVC pipe, and then learn to play them. With the didgeridoo, you can create a variety of rhythms, produce animal noises, and make yourself sound like there's two people playing! For people with little to no experience.


Circling - Intersubjective Meditation in Spark 2017 (Mar. 11 - 12, 2017)
Most of your Spark classes will be about objects and things. Some of your conversations will involve personal history, where you grew up, what you like and dislike. This class will be a third kind of conversation, about what our present experience is, as we're having it. There's a kind of magic to being deeply seen, and to being welcomed as you are. Circling is a practice about getting others' worlds, and sharing what it's really like to be you, and having that be seen and reflected. Come experience the magic


Being an Immovable Object in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
If you twist your shoulder in the right way, you can lift twice as much. Tense your abs in the right way, and you can punch three times as hard. Whether you like martial arts or yoga, dancing or football, or even if you just want to seem more confident when presenting, you can do more with less effort when you put your body in a position of stability. So come to this class and get better at everything!


Being a Proud Tribesman in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
Give an American soldier a heavy pack, and moving becomes harder. Give it to an African villager, and moving becomes easier. Turns out they're just better at walking than us. And standing and sitting. Come learn why everything you know about posture is wrong. Superpowers to be had from this class include the ability to see things directly behind you and being able to sleep on a wooden log. Some increase in height may be expected. Warning: Upon completion of this class, your life may feel like an endless massage. You may also experience a sudden urge to replace all your furniture.


Gröbner Bases and Term Rewriting in Splash 2016 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2016)
Solving systems of linear equations is easy. How about systems of polynomial equations? We're not really going to teach you that. Instead, we're going to teach you about Gröbner bases, a crazy way of representing spaces of polynomials, which also gives the ability to solve polynomial equations. Actually, we're not going to really teach you that either. Instead, we're going to go into a separate branch of mathematics called Term Rewriting and teach you about Knuth-Bendix Completion, a "meta-algorithm" which can take definitions of equality and give you an algorithm for telling whether two things are equal. We'll present Gröbner Bases as a special case of Knuth-Bendix Completion. We might even have time to solve a polynomial equation or two! Bring your generalization goggles, 'cause things are about to get abstract.


Chaotic Reduction: Play the Math in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
Chaotic Reduction is a computer game that turns mathematical problems into puzzles. We will study famous problems such as the Post Correspondence Problem and Conway's Soldiers in computer game form, and then make our own levels!


Finite Automata in Spark 2016 (Mar. 12 - 13, 2016)
Would you like to find patterns in text? Prove your program doesn't have an infinite loop? Monitor a nuclear reactor? Find structure in DNA? In this class, you'll learn about finite automata. Finite automata, or "state machines" can be though of as just moving a marker between some states according to some simple rules, but their simplicity hides deep mathematics and allows you to manipulate them in interesting ways. We'll start with the basic definition and take you through the math and into some powerful applications.


Being an Immovable Object in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
If you twist your shoulder in the right way, you can lift twice as much. Tense your abs in the right way, and you can punch three times as hard. Whether you like martial arts or yoga, dancing or football, or even if you just want to seem more confident when presenting, you can do more with less effort when you put your body in a position of stability. So come to this class and get better at everything!


Being a Proud Tribesman in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Give an American soldier a heavy pack, and moving becomes harder. Give it to an African villager, and moving becomes easier. Turns out they're just better at walking than us. And standing and sitting. Come learn why everything you know about posture is wrong. Superpowers to be had from this class include the ability to see things directly behind you and being able to sleep on a wooden log. Some increase in height may be expected. Warning: Upon completion of this class, your life may feel like an endless massage. You may also experience a sudden urge to replace all your furniture.


Causal Inference in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Big data is all the rage these days. Let's talk about some things that even infinite data can't do. First we'll use statistics to prove why you should never go to the doctor. Then we'll show that smoking prevents cancer. Once we've finally kicked the statisticians out of the room, you'll learn the right way to reason about causality. We'll resolve the age-old question of whether war causes poverty or poverty causes war, and show how to predict the results of a randomized controlled experiment without actually doing one.


Advanced Functional Programming in Splash 2015 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2015)
Oh sure, you could write a program that runs over all the elements of a list and does something, but that's not interesting. How about something that iterates over any data structure? Or a function that runs backwards? Maybe we'll even make the "printf" function type-safe. Monads and typeclasses will be among the easier things we cover in this class. This class will be taught in Haskell, but the concepts covered are more general.


Lecture Series - Research in HSSP Summer 2015 (Jul. 12, 2015)
Learn about current developments across math, science, and computing! Every week, a different guest speaker will talk about their current research. Find out some of the cool things that MIT students spend their time working on. Schedule: 7/12: "Civil Structures," Yasamin Tari 7/19: "Synchronization Inspired by Fireflies", Iva Bojic 7/26: "Skeletal Biology," Sara Elaine Strecker 8/2: "Chemistry," Sneha Shastry and Tej Shastry 8/9: "Solar Energy Conversion," Bikram Bhatia 8/16: "DNA Organization in the Nucleus," Wouter Meuleman


Lecture Series - Math in HSSP Summer 2015 (Jul. 12, 2015)
Want to learn how to keep secrets from your little sister or a well-funded intelligence agency? Why 19 is a happy number, but 20 isn't? How to count to infinity, and then some? Then sign up for this whirlwind tour of math! You'll learn about something completely different each week from a series of 6 speakers. Schedule: 7/12: "Prisoner's Dilemma," Elizabeth Proctor 7/19: "Intro to Group Theory", Andreea Bobu and Lara Booth 7/26: "Intro to Number Theory," Sam Bauman 8/2: "Infinities and Infinite-Dimensional Spaces," Yash Kothari 8/9: "Finding patterns in everyday life," Nisha Rajagopal 8/16: "Non-cooperative Games," Stirling Newberry