Modeling Issues in Speech and Hearing

Course Info

Course Number/Code: HST.750 (Spring 2006)
Course Title: Modeling Issues in Speech and Hearing
Course Level: Graduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
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Department: Health Sciences and Technology
Course Instructor(s): Prof. Jennifer Melcher
Prof. Christopher Shera
Course Introduction:
Syllabus Course Description

This course explores the theory and practice of scientific modeling in the context of auditory and speech biophysics. Based on seminar-style discussions of the research literature, the class draws on examples from hearing and speech and explores general, meta-theoretical issues that transcend the particular subject matter.

Notes on the Seminars

Two consecutive seminar sessions are typically devoted to the discussion and analysis of each group of papers. The first week's scientific seminar focused on mastering the "what?" and the "how?" of each paper; the second week's modeling-issues seminar on the "why?". The first week aims at understanding, the second at integration and critique, focused especially on modeling issues.

Each week, students assume responsibility as paper/problem presenters. Presenters lead discussion of individual papers (during the scientific seminars) or of particular problems/modeling questions (during the modeling-issues seminars). The responsibilities of the presenter assigned to a particular paper/problem include identifying and raising major issues; provoking discussion by asking pertinent questions; keeping the seminar on-schedule, moving, and focused; and helping ensure that everyone participates and understands. Rather than resorting to lectures or monologues, presenters should invite others to give opinions and input. The role of the presenter is not to provide information, nor is it to provide the "right" answer or opinion. Rather, it is to guide the discussion, to keep it moving, to raise objections, and to help everyone come to understand.

During the scientific seminars, approximately 40-60 minutes will be allotted to each paper presentation, depending on the number of papers to be covered. Paper presentations are informal, journal-club style discussions of the scientific content of the paper. The goal of every presentation should be to make sure that everyone understands what was done and how. Although use of audio-visual aids is often helpful (e.g., when summarizing a complicated argument or presenting additional information), their use should be the exception rather than the rule. (Preparation of quality overheads and/or computer presentations can suck up huge quantities of time that would be better spent reading the papers.)

Notes on the Weekly AssignmentsPreparation Sheets

To ensure stimulating and worthwhile discussion, everyone must prepare a preparation sheet for each paper prior to class. Although they can be retained for reference until the end of class, preparation sheets are due at the beginning of the class on which a paper is first discussed. A preparation sheet consists of a page or so of comments, criticisms, observations, and questions provoked by the paper. They can be word-processed or handwritten (legibly), pristine or coffee-stained (legibly), beautifully bound on bond or scrawled in blood on the backs of envelopes (legibly). Preparation sheets are meant to stimulate thought, not to preclude it with useless "busywork".

Problem/Discussion Sets

To help you prepare for the second week's modeling seminars, the instructors will hand out problem/discussion sets containing specific questions and/or problems to be discussed in class. Individual students will be assigned to lead discussion of particular problems/issues. While rereading the papers for the second week's seminar, you should think about, work on, and write out answers to these questions-and come up with other questions of your own. Come prepared to discuss your answers and questions in class.

Grading PolicyGrading criteria.ACTIVITIESPERCENTAGESParticipation in Class Discussion50%Leading Discussion of Papers/Problems20%Problem Sets20%Complete Preparation Sheets10%CalendarCourse calendar.WEEK #TOPICSKEY DATES1Introduction2The Process of Model BuildingProblem set 1 due3Analytic vs. ComputationalProblem set 2 due4Detailed vs. Heuristic IProblem set 3 due5Special Topic I: Dimensional Analysis and ScalingProblem set 4 due6Field Trip7Detailed vs. Heuristic IIProblem set 5 due8Special Topic II: Curve Fitting, Resampling, and Monte CarloProblem set 6 due9Forward vs. InverseProblem set 7 due10Special Topic III: Chaos and the Limits to PredictionProblem set 8 due11Special Topic IV: Molecular Mathematical BiologyProblem set 9 due12Student Selections I13Student Selections II14The Relation between Theory and ExperimentProblem set 10 due15RecapitulationProblem set 11 due