What is SPARC?

SPARC is a two-week-long residential summer program for high school students, held in August 2014.

How do computers play chess? How does your phone correctly detect faces in an image? Can we model human decision-making, and once we do that, can we make it better? 

To bring it down to Earth, how do we choose how to spend our time in school? How do we have productive conversations instead of wasting our time on unproductive arguments?

These are all really hard, unsolved problems; we will need many perspectives to even start, which is why SPARC’s core curriculum consists equally of probability theory, computer science, and cognitive science. We also have enrichment classes that give students a preview of college-level science courses, while showing how that science can be applied in work and in life.

For instance, at SPARC students learn Bayesian statistics, which can be used to identify genetic factors of diseases, improve the quality of digital communications, and model the meanings of words. Students also learn about the microeconomic concepts of fungibility and value of information, and how they  can be used to make practical decisions.

Perhaps most importantly, SPARC students are surrounded by a community of other highly talented students, junior counselors, and instructors. And to make sure that we really do get the best participants possible, SPARC is completely free to all admitted students.

So, if you’re ready to spend two weeks with a bunch of awesome students, instructors, and guest speakers while learning some of the most useful knowledge we can think of,  apply now. Still not sure? Check out our syllabus.

SPARC will be held from August 4th to August 16th 2014 at UC Berkeley.  To review any questions not answered here, see the FAQ.