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Decoding the language of non-human species




CSAIL: Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Faculty Supervisor:

Daniela Rus

Faculty email:


Apply by:

10th of September 2020


Pratyusha Sharma: pratyuss@mit.edu; Please put "UROP" in the subject line of the email.

Project Description

Communication is a key characteristic of intelligence. Being able to create an infinite number of messages by structuring finite sets of units to respond to stimuli is a key trait that has distinguished us from other species on the face of the earth. While most non-human animals communicate in interesting ways to talk about their state, or to alert each other of the presence of a predator or food, their communication has not been found to have long range dependencies. On the contrary humans have languages. They have the ability to reason over longer ranges and respond and strategize to stimuli in ways requiring thinking over long time horizons. This has been key to accumulating and passing down knowledge over generations and has been key to our development. In this project, we unpack the question of whether other animals could have a language.


Preferred Coursework (or experience with): 1. Data structures and Algorithms 2. Probability and Statistics 3. Intro to ML 4. Proficient in Python