Reports to the President 1994-95
The development of the undergraduate curriculum in Media Arts and Sciences
(MAS) is now poised to petition the Committees on Curricula and Undergraduate
Policy for approval as a degree granting program. The proposal will be that
the new MAS undergraduate degree be offered only in conjunction with another
department's bachelor's degree as part of a double major. The curriculum
begins with Professors Negroponte's and Hawley's Introduction to Media Arts
and Sciences, followed by a set of CORE subjects that include Signals,
Systems, and Information for Media Technology (Professors Bove and Picard),
Tools for Thought (Professors Resnick and Cassell and Dr. Brand),
Story (Professors Davenport and Haase), and a forthcoming subject,
Intentionality (Professors Richards and Pentland). All of these
subjects are project-oriented, and serve as precursors to more advanced
atelier-like instruction. The program also will require substantial
participation in ongoing Media Lab projects, using the UROP vehicle.
Approximately one hundred students attend the introductory subject each year.
A large fraction of these then move on to the next level of MAS subjects.
Currently, we are advising fifty students who are interested in Media Arts and
Sciences undergraduate degree options.
Two hundred and twenty-seven applications for our graduate program were
received this year, from which 33 were selected for admission (including 4
women and one underrepresented minority), 26 for the Master's program, and 7
for the Doctoral program. Our graduate student population this year consisted
of 108 students (19 women, 5 underrepresented minorities, and 29 foreign
students), of whom 62 were in the Master's program and 46 in the Doctoral
program. Twenty-two advanced degrees were awarded during the year (seventeen
S.M. and five Ph.D.). Twenty-seven graduate subjects were offered by the
This year we offered ten undergraduate subjects. The number of active UROP
students in the Media Laboratory was 161. Of these students, many pursue their
undergraduate thesis research under our faculty's supervision. Three of the
MAS faculty and Media Lab staff conducted freshman advising seminars or served
as freshman advisors.
Thanks to a generous gift by Alex Dreyfoos, Jr. '54, as of July 1995 we now
have two new endowed career development chairs in Media Arts and Sciences. The
first holders are Associate Professor V. Michael Bove, Jr. and Assistant
Professor Michael Hawley (see below).
Assistant Professor Pattie Maes was promoted to Associate Professor of Media
Technology effective July 1995. She also will hold the Sony Career Development
Professorship. Professor Maes has become recognized as one of the world
leaders in intelligent autonomous agents - a new field that attempts to
understand and use the adaptive behavior of a complex integrated system
consisting of a collection of intelligent devices.
Assistant Professor Rosalind Picard was promoted to Associate Professor of
Media Technology effective July 1995. She also is the NEC Career Development
Professor of Computers and Communications. Professor Picard's research
interests include image texture processing, useful for finding pictures by
their picture content rather than by their name.
Dr. Justine Cassell joined the Media faculty as an Assistant Professor. She
received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1991, and came to MIT from
Pennsylvania State University where she was an Assistant Professor of
Linguistics, Psychology, and French. Her main research interest is the use of
gestures in narrative communication.
Assistant Professor Michael Hawley will join the Media Arts and Sciences rank
list effective July 1995, transferring from the Department of Electrical
Engineering and Computer Science. As previously mentioned, he will hold one of
the new Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. '54 chairs. Professor Hawley's current
research interest is in exploring personal interfaces that will connect
everyday people to the emerging global digital infrastructure.
W. Daniel Hillis and Mitchell Kapor were appointed as Adjunct Professors in
Media Arts and Sciences. Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection
Machine and co-founder of Thinking Machines. His current interests include
evolution, parallel learning algorithms, and how simple things produce complex
behavior. Mitchell Kapor founded Lotus Development Corporation in 1982 and
since his departure in 1987, has been engaged principally in policy issues
raised by the growth of communication networks.
Marvin Minsky received the 1995 Rank prize in the field of Opto-electronics for
his invention of the confocal microscope. The presentation, in May, was at the
Royal Society of Medicine, London. He was also selected to receive the Joseph
Priestly award in September 1995 at Dickinson College.
Alive, an artificial life interactive video environment headed by
Professors Pattie Maes and Alex Pentland, continues to receive recognition,
receiving the ArcTec Biennale prize (to Professor Maes and PhD candidate Bruce
Professor Tod Machover, head of the Media's Music group, was named Chevalier de
l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, France's highest artistic and literary honor.
Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel
Microworlds, by Mitchel Resnick (MIT Press 1994), is a lucid and compelling
presentation of how the active construction of behaviors of self-organizing
systems can stimulate new ways of thinking and understanding.
Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte (Knopf 1995), which was placed on
the New York Times best seller list, reveals the present and future impact of
digital technologies upon communications, society, and our way of life.
And lastly, we miss the guidance, wit and charm of Jerome B. Wiesner
Reports to the President 1994-95