ESP Biography

ALEX IRPAN, UC Berkeley senior

Major: Computer Science

College/Employer: UC Berkeley

Year of Graduation: 2016

Picture of Alex Irpan

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I came into Berkeley as a math major, and switched to CS. However, I still ike math, so I usually teach math courses or theoretical computer science courses.

Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)

Zero-Knowledge Proofs in Splash Spring 16
I want to login to an account that's password-protected. Can I convince someone else I have the password without revealing what my password is? Or more generally, can I convince someone I know something without revealing how I know it? It turns out the answer to all of these question is "yes", thanks to zero-knowledge proofs. We'll start with explaining why we should care, then define what it means to be zero-knowledge. We'll do a short detour into computational complexity, then build to the final result - every problem in NP has a zero knowledge proof.

Learn How AlphaGo Works in Splash Spring 16
Learn how AlphaGo works in 1 hour! Okay, you actually will not learn how AlphaGo works in 1 hour. It's a complicated AI that people have been working on for around 2 years. But, if you come here, you can get part of the way there. I'll broadly explain how AlphaGo learns which moves are good, making sure to keep it appropriate to high school students. If there's time, I'll explain specific parts in more detail. The way this class goes depends a lot on what parts the class thinks are interesting.

An Infinite Tower of Infinities: Introduction to Set Theory in Splash Fall 15
How many natural numbers are there? An infinite number. How about integers? Also an infinite number. But are there more integers than naturals, or more rationals than naturals? To answer these questions, we'll need formal definitions of size that still work when we have infinitely many objects. This course will cover results proved by Georg Cantor, often called the father of set theory. These proofs will build to a surprising result: not only are some infinities bigger than other ones, but there are infinitely many different sizes of infinity.

Combinatorial Games in Splash Spring 15
Do you like games? I like games! But in particular, I like combinatorial games. Combinatorial games are turn-based games with no randomness and perfect information. For example, Tic-Tac-Toe is a combinatorial game, and so is Chess This course will first start with playing around with some classic games from combinatorial game theory (Nim, Chomp), then move into how these games can be made mathematically rigorous.