Day 5: Computation, Cognition, 3D Reconstruction, and more!

The first week of SAILORS ended with yet another exciting day! As usual, the morning started off with a casual breakfast Q&A with a professor. Today, the principal investigator of Stanford’s Computation & Cognition Lab, Noah Goodman, came and introduced the girls to how he applies computational models to cognitive science.

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During his lecture, Prof. Goodman went into further detail about his research area. He described several of his experiments in which a probabilistic model could predict the thought patterns of people with near-perfect accuracy. These models were even capable of accounting for nonliteral language such as hyperbole!

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One of Prof. Goodman’s graduate students, Erin Bennett, and PhD student Rachel Luo then led a tutorial on inductive reasoning. The SAILORS girls first played several engaging¬†games that required considering what other people might be thinking, such as the well-known prisoner’s dilemma. Using what they learned from these games, they programmed their own probabilistic algorithm to represent such “reasoning about reasoning” situations.

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Playing a cooperation reasoning game

Friday afternoon was just as action-packed as the first half of the day! After lunch, this year’s campers had a Q&A session with current college students and SAILORS alumni from last year. The panel talked about their experiences both in SAILORS and in school, giving advice to the girls about getting involved in and navigating the world of computer science as women. Throughout the conversation, the panelists emphasized the importance of not being afraid to ask questions, and having self-confidence when reaching out for research and internship opportunities.

Following the personal growth session, computer graphics PhD student Angela Dai came in to lead a demo of 3D reconstruction. She took a scan of the room using depth-sensing technology, explaining that she and the 2016 program director Iro Armeni were working on installing that system onto a robot. The girls also learned about some of the challenges that the field faces currently, such as scanning reflective surfaces or having the computer actually recognize what object it just scanned.

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The day ended with group research sessions. With half the program now over, the teams’ projects are really starting to take shape. We hope the campers have enjoyed this past week as much as we have, and we’re looking forward to coming back on Monday!

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