Jennifer L. Barry

MIT CSAIL Graduate Student
Office: 32-G416
Email: JLBarry AT

About me

I graduated from Swarthmore College with a physics major in 2007 and started as a graduate student at MIT CSAIL in the same year. I work in the Learning and Intelligent Systems Group with Leslie Pack Kaelbling and Tomás Lozano-Pérez. When not doing research, I contra dance, read about computers and robots much smarter than mine and play Ultimate frisbee.

Research interests

My thesis work was on manipulation planning for multiple types of manipulation primitives. With state-of-the-art planning algorithms, robots can work in domains where only pick and place are required. Given a flat table with reasonably spaced objects, a robot can be trusted to pick an object up and put it down in another location. However, this situation is very rare; if we want robots that can function in the real world they must be able to deal with clutter and with objects that cannot be grasped. In my thesis work, I am developing random sampling algorithms for planning with diverse types of manipulation. Videos of the Willow Garage PR2 robot carrying out plans generated by my planner are here, the code is available here, and a more in-depth summary of my thesis work is here.

My previous work was on hierarchical Markov decision processes (MDPs). In an MDP, the world consists of a set of states that an agent can transition between using a set of probabilistic actions. The agent always knows what state it is in, but not necessarily to what state an action will take it. Although this model fully specifies the world at the bottom level, sculpting it into a useful hierarchy is a complex problem.


At CSAIL: ROS Packages: Older work:


Other Cool Stuff: