Basis is a nonprofit applied research organization with two mutually reinforcing goals.

Our Mission

Basis is a nonprofit applied research organization with two mutually reinforcing goals.

The first is to understand and build intelligence. This means to establish the mathematical principles of what it means to reason, to learn, to make decisions, to understand, and to explain; and to construct software that implements these principles.

The second is to advance society’s ability to solve intractable problems. This means expanding the scale, complexity, and breadth of problems that we can solve today, and even more importantly, accelerating our ability to solve problems in the future.

To achieve these goals, we’re building both a new technological foundation that draws inspiration from how humans reason, and a new kind of collaborative organization that puts human values first.

Who We Are

Our Team

Between our core members, advisors, and collaborators, Basis is made up of:

Zenna Tavares ↗︎

Zenna Tavares is a co-founder and director of Basis, innovation scholar in Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and associate research scientist in the Data Science Institute. Tavares’s research aims to understand how humans reason, that is, how they come to derive knowledge from observing and interacting with the world. He constructs computational and statistical tools that help advance his work on causal reasoning, probabilistic programming, and other areas.

Eli Bingham ↗︎

Eli Bingham is a co-founder and director of Basis, a machine learning fellow in the Data Sciences Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a co-creator and core developer of the Pyro probabilistic programming language, and formerly a senior research scientist at Uber AI Labs. He focuses on research at the intersection of probabilistic machine learning, programming languages, and biology and on bringing that research to practice by delivering high-quality open-source software to many thousands of users.

Emily Mackevicius ↗︎

Emily Mackevicius is a co-founder and director of Basis, a member of the Simons Society of Fellows, and a postdoc in the Aronov lab and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute. Mackevicius’s research uncovers how complex cognitive behaviors are generated by networks of neurons through local interactions and learning mechanisms. Her theoretical work is strongly grounded in experimental practice, currently neural recordings in food-caching birds with extreme memory abilities.

Sam Witty ↗︎

Sam Witty is a research scientist at Basis, an affiliate researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a PhD candidate in computer science at UMass Amherst, and formerly a visiting researcher in MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department. His research goal is to develop AI and ML methods that help scientists discover more and that help policymakers make better decisions.

Martin Jankowiak ↗︎

Martin Jankowiak is a research scientist (part-time) at Basis, a machine learning fellow in the Data Sciences Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a co-creator and core developer of Pyro and NumPyro. He was previously a senior research scientist at Uber AI Labs and has a PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford. He works on a wide range of topics across probabilistic machine learning, high-dimensional statistics and applications in computational biology.

Chad Scherrer ↗︎

Chad Scherrer is a research scientist at Basis. He has led development of several probabilistic programming research prototypes, including Passage (in Haskell) and Soss.jl and Tilde.jl (in Julia), as well as MeasureTheory.jl, a Julia library for efficiently working with measures. His research interests include probabilistic programming, functional programming, and program optimization. More generally, he’s interested in approaches for optimizing performance without significantly impacting flexibility or ease of use.

Rafal Urbaniak ↗︎

Rafal Urbaniak is a research scientist at Basis and leads a project on probabilistic legal evidence evaluation at the University of Gdansk, funded by the Polish National Science Centre. He enjoys Bayesian thinking about issues such as criminal evidence evaluation, online aggression and its mitigation, bias in natural language processing, or imprecision in expert testimony. Rafal obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Calgary, working on logic and non-standard foundations of mathematics.

Ria Das ↗︎

Ria is a research scientist at Basis, interested in automating scientific discovery via program synthesis and probabilistic programming. She is currently on a gap year from her PhD at Stanford University, and previously was an undergraduate and masters student at MIT, where she worked on modeling causal discovery in a commonsense reasoning domain (the Autumn project) with Zenna Tavares, Armando Solar-Lezama, and Josh Tenenbaum.

Alyse Portera

Alyse is business operations manager at Basis. She has expertise in financial management, human resources, contracting & procurement, grants, compliance, facilities management, and event planning.

Karen Schroeder ↗︎

Karen is research operations manager at Basis. She was previously a postdoctoral research scientist in brain-computer interfaces and motor systems neuroscience at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, and holds a PhD in neural engineering from the University of Michigan. She is interested in building tools to help individuals and institutions make better decisions.

Archana Warrier ↗︎

Archana Warrier is a visiting student at Basis and a Master’s student at TU Kaiserslautern, co-mentored by Zenna Tavares and Sebastian Vollmer. Her interests lie in the fields of causality and Bayesian inference.

Marjorie Xie ↗︎

Marjorie is a research scientist intern at Basis and a PhD candidate in Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University in the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. During her PhD, she built computational models to understand how neural systems learn complex behaviors. At Basis, Marjorie is excited about leveraging probabilistic and causal inference to enhance collaborative intelligence and scientific discovery. She is developing methods to infer the latent states of autonomous agents and groups of agents.


Want to work with us? Learn more about opportunities to join our research collaborations, and career opportunities, here.

Advisors

Armando Solar-Lezama ↗︎

Solar-Lezama is a professor at MIT EECS and an associate director and the COO of MIT CSAIL, where he leads the Computer-Aided Programming Group.

Joshua Tenenbaum ↗︎

Tenenbaum is professor of Computational Cognitive Science in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Scientific Director with the MIT Quest for Intelligence, an investigator at the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines and MIT CSAIL, and a MacArthur Fellow.

Kevin Ellis ↗︎

Ellis is an assistant professor of computer science at Cornell, where his group works on artificial intelligence, deep learning and program synthesis.

Anthony Philippakis ↗︎

Philippakis is chief data officer of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, co-director of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center for AI and Biology, a venture partner at GV, and a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Rui Costa ↗︎

Costa is a professor of neuroscience and outgoing CEO of the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia, the incoming CEO of the Allen Institute, and an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and the National Academy of Medicine.

Contact Us

If you are interested in supporting our mission to create a new space for AI research with financial or other resources, or collaborating with us on either core technology or any of our current challenge problems, please reach us at contact@basis.ai.

If you’d like to stay up to date on Basis news, software releases, or challenge problems please join our mailing list.