Joseph Jay Williams, Harvard: Perpetually enhancing human learning through collaborative, dynamic, personalized experimentation

Date: 

Monday, February 13, 2017, 11:30am to 1:00pm

Location: 

Maxwell Dworkin 119

CRCS Lunch Seminar

Date: Monday, February 13, 2017
Time: 11:30am  – 1:00pm
Place: Maxwell Dworkin 119

Speaker:  Joseph Jay Williams, Harvard

Title: Perpetually enhancing human learning through collaborative, dynamic, personalized experimentation

Abstract: There is a proliferation of websites and mobile apps for helping people learn new concepts (e.g. online courses), and learn how to change health habits and behavior (e.g. websites for reducing depression, apps for quitting smoking). How can we use data from real-world users to rapidly enhance and personalize these technologies? I show how we can build self-improving systems by reimagining randomized A/B experimentation as an engine for collaboration, dynamic enhancement, and personalization. I present a novel system that enhanced learning from math problems, through crowdsourcing explanations and automatically experimenting to discover the best. My second application boosted responses to an email campaign, by experimentally discovering how to personalize motivational messages to a user's activity level. These self-improving systems use experiments as a bridge between designers, social-behavioral scientists and researchers in statistical machine learning.

Bio:  Joseph Jay Williams is a Research Fellow at Harvard's Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, and a member of the Intelligent Interactive Systems Group in Computer Science. He completed a postdoc at Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education in Summer 2014, working with the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning and the Open Learning Initiative. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley in Computational Cognitive Science, where he applied Bayesian statistics and machine learning to model how people learn and reason. He received his B.Sc. from University of Toronto in Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics, and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. More information about his research and papers is at www.josephjaywilliams.com.

Joseph Jay Williams