Nick Haber is an Assistant Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and by courtesy, Computer Science. After receiving his PhD in mathematics on Partial Differential Equation theory, he worked on Sension, a company that applied computer vision to online education. He then co-founded the Autism Glass Project at Stanford, a research effort that employs wearable technology and computer vision in a tool for children with autism. Aside from such work on learning and therapeutic tools, he and his research group develop artificial intelligence systems meant to mimic and model the ways people learn early in life, exploring their environments through play, social interaction, and curiosity.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University (2014 - 2019)
Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University (2014 - 2014)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (2013 - 2013)
Graduate Student, Stanford University (2009 - 2013)
Undergraduate Research, Brown University (2007 - 2008)
Undergraduate Research, Brown University (2006 - 2007)
NSF Mathematics REU, Lafayette College (2005 - 2005)
Honors & Awards
Walter V. and Idun Berry Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University (2015)
Magna Cum Laude, Brown University (2008)
Member, Phi Beta Kappa (2006)
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Chief Scientific Officer, Sension, Inc (2013 - Present)
Symbolic Systems Program
Sc.B., Brown University, Mathematics & Economics (2008)
Ph.D., Stanford University, Mathematics (2013)
Nicholas Haber, Catalin Voss. "United States Patent Application 14/275851 Systems and methods for detection of behavior correlated with outside distractions in examinations"
Nicholas Haber, Catalin Voss. "United States Patent Application 61/821,921 System and Method for Analysis of Visual Viewer Reactions to Video Content. US Application"
Brain and Learning Sciences
Social and Emotional Learning
Technology and Education
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
I use AI models of of exploratory and social learning in order to better understand early human learning and development, and conversely, I use our understanding of early human learning to make robust AI models that learn in exploratory and social ways. Based on this, I develop AI-powered learning tools for children, geared in particular towards the education of those with developmental issues such as the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, in the mold of my work on the Autism Glass Project. My formal graduate training in pure mathematics involved extending partial differential equation theory in cases involving the propagation of waves through complex media such as the space around a black hole. Since then, I have transitioned to the use of machine learning in developing both learning tools for children with developmental disorders and AI and cognitive models of learning.
- Curiosity in Artificial Intelligence
EDUC 234 (Win)
- Interactive and Embodied Learning
CS 422 (Win)
- Independent Studies (4)
Prior Year Courses
- Curiosity in Artificial Intelligence
EDUC 234 (Spr)
- Curiosity in Artificial Intelligence
Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Doctoral Dissertation Reader (NonAC)
Precision Telemedicine through Crowdsourced Machine Learning: Testing Variability of Crowd Workers for Video-Based Autism Feature Recognition.
Journal of personalized medicine
2020; 10 (3)
Mobilized telemedicine is becoming a key, and even necessary, facet of both precision health and precision medicine. In this study, we evaluate the capability and potential of a crowd of virtual workers-defined as vetted members of popular crowdsourcing platforms-to aid in the task of diagnosing autism. We evaluate workers when crowdsourcing the task of providing categorical ordinal behavioral ratings to unstructured public YouTube videos of children with autism and neurotypical controls. To evaluate emerging patterns that are consistent across independent crowds, we target workers from distinct geographic loci on two crowdsourcing platforms: an international group of workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) (N = 15) and Microworkers from Bangladesh (N = 56), Kenya (N = 23), and the Philippines (N = 25). We feed worker responses as input to a validated diagnostic machine learning classifier trained on clinician-filled electronic health records. We find that regardless of crowd platform or targeted country, workers vary in the average confidence of the correct diagnosis predicted by the classifier. The best worker responses produce a mean probability of the correct class above 80% and over one standard deviation above 50%, accuracy and variability on par with experts according to prior studies. There is a weak correlation between mean time spent on task and mean performance (r = 0.358, p = 0.005). These results demonstrate that while the crowd can produce accurate diagnoses, there are intrinsic differences in crowdworker ability to rate behavioral features. We propose a novel strategy for recruitment of crowdsourced workers to ensure high quality diagnostic evaluations of autism, and potentially many other pediatric behavioral health conditions. Our approach represents a viable step in the direction of crowd-based approaches for more scalable and affordable precision medicine.
View details for DOI 10.3390/jpm10030086
View details for PubMedID 32823538
Toward Continuous Social Phenotyping: Analyzing Gaze Patterns in an Emotion Recognition Task for Children With Autism Through Wearable Smart Glasses.
Journal of medical Internet research
2020; 22 (4): e13810
BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown that facial attention differs in children with autism. Measuring eye gaze and emotion recognition in children with autism is challenging, as standard clinical assessments must be delivered in clinical settings by a trained clinician. Wearable technologies may be able to bring eye gaze and emotion recognition into natural social interactions and settings.OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to test: (1) the feasibility of tracking gaze using wearable smart glasses during a facial expression recognition task and (2) the ability of these gaze-tracking data, together with facial expression recognition responses, to distinguish children with autism from neurotypical controls (NCs).METHODS: We compared the eye gaze and emotion recognition patterns of 16 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 17 children without ASD via wearable smart glasses fitted with a custom eye tracker. Children identified static facial expressions of images presented on a computer screen along with nonsocial distractors while wearing Google Glass and the eye tracker. Faces were presented in three trials, during one of which children received feedback in the form of the correct classification. We employed hybrid human-labeling and computer vision-enabled methods for pupil tracking and world-gaze translation calibration. We analyzed the impact of gaze and emotion recognition features in a prediction task aiming to distinguish children with ASD from NC participants.RESULTS: Gaze and emotion recognition patterns enabled the training of a classifier that distinguished ASD and NC groups. However, it was unable to significantly outperform other classifiers that used only age and gender features, suggesting that further work is necessary to disentangle these effects.CONCLUSIONS: Although wearable smart glasses show promise in identifying subtle differences in gaze tracking and emotion recognition patterns in children with and without ASD, the present form factor and data do not allow for these differences to be reliably exploited by machine learning systems. Resolving these challenges will be an important step toward continuous tracking of the ASD phenotype.
View details for DOI 10.2196/13810
View details for PubMedID 32319961
Feature Selection and Dimension Reduction of Social Autism Data.
Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing
2020; 25: 707–18
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neuropsychiatric condition with a highly heterogeneous phenotype. Following the work of Duda et al., which uses a reduced feature set from the Social Responsiveness Scale, Second Edition (SRS) to distinguish ASD from ADHD, we performed item-level question selection on answers to the SRS to determine whether ASD can be distinguished from non-ASD using a similarly small subset of questions. To explore feature redundancies between the SRS questions, we performed filter, wrapper, and embedded feature selection analyses. To explore the linearity of the SRS-related ASD phenotype, we then compressed the 65-question SRS into low-dimension representations using PCA, t-SNE, and a denoising autoencoder. We measured the performance of a multilayer perceptron (MLP) classifier with the top-ranking questions as input. Classification using only the top-rated question resulted in an AUC of over 92% for SRS-derived diagnoses and an AUC of over 83% for dataset-specific diagnoses. High redundancy of features have implications towards replacing the social behaviors that are targeted in behavioral diagnostics and interventions, where digital quantification of certain features may be obfuscated due to privacy concerns. We similarly evaluated the performance of an MLP classifier trained on the low-dimension representations of the SRS, finding that the denoising autoencoder achieved slightly higher performance than the PCA and t-SNE representations.
View details for PubMedID 31797640
Data-Driven Diagnostics and the Potential of Mobile Artificial Intelligence for Digital Therapeutic Phenotyping in Computational Psychiatry.
Biological psychiatry. Cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging
Data science and digital technologies have the potential to transform diagnostic classification. Digital technologies enable the collection of big data, and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence enable scalable, rapid, and automated classification of medical conditions. In this review, we summarize and categorize various data-driven methods for diagnostic classification. In particular, we focus on autism as an example of a challenging disorder due to its highly heterogeneous nature. We begin by describing the frontier of data science methods for the neuropsychiatry of autism. We discuss early signs of autism as defined by existing pen-and-paper-based diagnostic instruments and describe data-driven feature selection techniques for determining the behaviors that are most salient for distinguishing children with autism from neurologically typical children. We then describe data-driven detection techniques, particularly computer vision and eye tracking, that provide a means of quantifying behavioral differences between cases and controls. We also describe methods of preserving the privacy of collected videos and prior efforts of incorporating humans in the diagnostic loop. Finally, we summarize existing digital therapeutic interventions that allow for data capture and longitudinal outcome tracking as the diagnosis moves along a positive trajectory. Digital phenotyping of autism is paving the way for quantitative psychiatry more broadly and will set the stage for more scalable, accessible, and precise diagnostic techniques in the field.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.11.015
View details for PubMedID 32085921
MOBILE COMPUTING AND COMMUNICATIONS REVIEW
2019; 23 (2): 35–38
View details for Web of Science ID 000498622500008
Validity of Online Screening for Autism: Crowdsourcing Study Comparing Paid and Unpaid Diagnostic Tasks.
Journal of medical Internet research
2019; 21 (5): e13668
BACKGROUND: Obtaining a diagnosis of neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism requires long waiting times that can exceed a year and can be prohibitively expensive. Crowdsourcing approaches may provide a scalable alternative that can accelerate general access to care and permit underserved populations to obtain an accurate diagnosis.OBJECTIVE: We aimed to perform a series of studies to explore whether paid crowd workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) and citizen crowd workers on a public website shared on social media can provide accurate online detection of autism, conducted via crowdsourced ratings of short home video clips.METHODS: Three online studies were performed: (1) a paid crowdsourcing task on AMT (N=54) where crowd workers were asked to classify 10 short video clips of children as "Autism" or "Not autism," (2) a more complex paid crowdsourcing task (N=27) with only those raters who correctly rated ≥8 of the 10 videos during the first study, and (3) a public unpaid study (N=115) identical to the first study.RESULTS: For Study 1, the mean score of the participants who completed all questions was 7.50/10 (SD 1.46). When only analyzing the workers who scored ≥8/10 (n=27/54), there was a weak negative correlation between the time spent rating the videos and the sensitivity (rho=-0.44, P=.02). For Study 2, the mean score of the participants rating new videos was 6.76/10 (SD 0.59). The average deviation between the crowdsourced answers and gold standard ratings provided by two expert clinical research coordinators was 0.56, with an SD of 0.51 (maximum possible SD is 3). All paid crowd workers who scored 8/10 in Study 1 either expressed enjoyment in performing the task in Study 2 or provided no negative comments. For Study 3, the mean score of the participants who completed all questions was 6.67/10 (SD 1.61). There were weak correlations between age and score (r=0.22, P=.014), age and sensitivity (r=-0.19, P=.04), number of family members with autism and sensitivity (r=-0.195, P=.04), and number of family members with autism and precision (r=-0.203, P=.03). A two-tailed t test between the scores of the paid workers in Study 1 and the unpaid workers in Study 3 showed a significant difference (P<.001).CONCLUSIONS: Many paid crowd workers on AMT enjoyed answering screening questions from videos, suggesting higher intrinsic motivation to make quality assessments. Paid crowdsourcing provides promising screening assessments of pediatric autism with an average deviation <20% from professional gold standard raters, which is potentially a clinically informative estimate for parents. Parents of children with autism likely overfit their intuition to their own affected child. This work provides preliminary demographic data on raters who may have higher ability to recognize and measure features of autism across its wide range of phenotypic manifestations.
View details for DOI 10.2196/13668
View details for PubMedID 31124463
- Effect of Wearable Digital Intervention for Improving Socialization in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder A Randomized Clinical Trial JAMA PEDIATRICS 2019; 173 (5): 446–54
Effect of Wearable Digital Intervention for Improving Socialization in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Importance: Autism behavioral therapy is effective but expensive and difficult to access. While mobile technology-based therapy can alleviate wait-lists and scale for increasing demand, few clinical trials exist to support its use for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) care.Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of Superpower Glass, an artificial intelligence-driven wearable behavioral intervention for improving social outcomes of children with ASD.Design, Setting, and Participants: A randomized clinical trial in which participants received the Superpower Glass intervention plus standard of care applied behavioral analysis therapy and control participants received only applied behavioral analysis therapy. Assessments were completed at the Stanford University Medical School, and enrolled participants used the Superpower Glass intervention in their homes. Children aged 6 to 12 years with a formal ASD diagnosis who were currently receiving applied behavioral analysis therapy were included. Families were recruited between June 2016 and December 2017. The first participant was enrolled on November 1, 2016, and the last appointment was completed on April 11, 2018. Data analysis was conducted between April and October 2018.Interventions: The Superpower Glass intervention, deployed via Google Glass (worn by the child) and a smartphone app, promotes facial engagement and emotion recognition by detecting facial expressions and providing reinforcing social cues. Families were asked to conduct 20-minute sessions at home 4 times per week for 6 weeks.Main Outcomes and Measures: Four socialization measures were assessed using an intention-to-treat analysis with a Bonferroni test correction.Results: Overall, 71 children (63 boys [89%]; mean [SD] age, 8.38 [2.46] years) diagnosed with ASD were enrolled (40 [56.3%] were randomized to treatment, and 31 (43.7%) were randomized to control). Children receiving the intervention showed significant improvements on the Vineland Adaptive Behaviors Scale socialization subscale compared with treatment as usual controls (mean [SD] treatment impact, 4.58 [1.62]; P=.005). Positive mean treatment effects were also found for the other 3 primary measures but not to a significance threshold of P=.0125.Conclusions and Relevance: The observed 4.58-point average gain on the Vineland Adaptive Behaviors Scale socialization subscale is comparable with gains observed with standard of care therapy. To our knowledge, this is the first randomized clinical trial to demonstrate efficacy of a wearable digital intervention to improve social behavior of children with ASD. The intervention reinforces facial engagement and emotion recognition, suggesting either or both could be a mechanism of action driving the observed improvement. This study underscores the potential of digital home therapy to augment the standard of care.Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03569176.
View details for PubMedID 30907929
- Addendum to the Acknowledgements: Validity of Online Screening for Autism: Crowdsourcing Study Comparing Paid and Unpaid Diagnostic Tasks. Journal of medical Internet research 2019; 21 (6): e14950
- The Potential for Machine Learning-Based Wearables to Improve Socialization in Teenagers and Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder-Reply. JAMA pediatrics 2019
- Exploratory study examining the at-home feasibility of a wearable tool for social-affective learning in children with autism NPJ DIGITAL MEDICINE 2018; 1
Feasibility Testing of a Wearable Behavioral Aid for Social Learning in Children with Autism
APPLIED CLINICAL INFORMATICS
2018; 9 (1): 129–40
Recent advances in computer vision and wearable technology have created an opportunity to introduce mobile therapy systems for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that can respond to the increasing demand for therapeutic interventions; however, feasibility questions must be answered first.We studied the feasibility of a prototype therapeutic tool for children with ASD using Google Glass, examining whether children with ASD would wear such a device, if providing the emotion classification will improve emotion recognition, and how emotion recognition differs between ASD participants and neurotypical controls (NC).We ran a controlled laboratory experiment with 43 children: 23 with ASD and 20 NC. Children identified static facial images on a computer screen with one of 7 emotions in 3 successive batches: the first with no information about emotion provided to the child, the second with the correct classification from the Glass labeling the emotion, and the third again without emotion information. We then trained a logistic regression classifier on the emotion confusion matrices generated by the two information-free batches to predict ASD versus NC.All 43 children were comfortable wearing the Glass. ASD and NC participants who completed the computer task with Glass providing audible emotion labeling (n = 33) showed increased accuracies in emotion labeling, and the logistic regression classifier achieved an accuracy of 72.7%. Further analysis suggests that the ability to recognize surprise, fear, and neutrality may distinguish ASD cases from NC.This feasibility study supports the utility of a wearable device for social affective learning in ASD children and demonstrates subtle differences in how ASD and NC children perform on an emotion recognition task.
View details for DOI 10.1055/s-0038-1626727
View details for Web of Science ID 000428690000006
View details for PubMedID 29466819
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5821509
Learning to Play With Intrinsically-Motivated, Self-Aware Agents
NEURAL INFORMATION PROCESSING SYSTEMS (NIPS). 2018
View details for Web of Science ID 000461852002089
Flexible Neural Representation for Physics Prediction
NEURAL INFORMATION PROCESSING SYSTEMS (NIPS). 2018
View details for Web of Science ID 000461852003036
Exploratory study examining the at-home feasibility of a wearable tool for social-affective learning in children with autism.
NPJ digital medicine
2018; 1: 32
Although standard behavioral interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are effective therapies for social deficits, they face criticism for being time-intensive and overdependent on specialists. Earlier starting age of therapy is a strong predictor of later success, but waitlists for therapies can be 18 months long. To address these complications, we developed Superpower Glass, a machine-learning-assisted software system that runs on Google Glass and an Android smartphone, designed for use during social interactions. This pilot exploratory study examines our prototype tool's potential for social-affective learning for children with autism. We sent our tool home with 14 families and assessed changes from intake to conclusion through the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2), a facial affect recognition task (EGG), and qualitative parent reports. A repeated-measures one-way ANOVA demonstrated a decrease in SRS-2 total scores by an average 7.14 points (F(1,13) = 33.20, p = <.001, higher scores indicate higher ASD severity). EGG scores also increased by an average 9.55 correct responses (F(1,10) = 11.89, p = <.01). Parents reported increased eye contact and greater social acuity. This feasibility study supports using mobile technologies for potential therapeutic purposes.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41746-018-0035-3
View details for PubMedID 31304314
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6550272
Sparsifying machine learning models identify stable subsets of predictive features for behavioral detection of autism
2017; 8: 65
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis can be delayed due in part to the time required for administration of standard exams, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Shorter and potentially mobilized approaches would help to alleviate bottlenecks in the healthcare system. Previous work using machine learning suggested that a subset of the behaviors measured by ADOS can achieve clinically acceptable levels of accuracy. Here we expand on this initial work to build sparse models that have higher potential to generalize to the clinical population.We assembled a collection of score sheets for two ADOS modules, one for children with phrased speech (Module 2; 1319 ASD cases, 70 controls) and the other for children with verbal fluency (Module 3; 2870 ASD cases, 273 controls). We used sparsity/parsimony enforcing regularization techniques in a nested cross validation grid search to select features for 17 unique supervised learning models, encoding missing values as additional indicator features. We augmented our feature sets with gender and age to train minimal and interpretable classifiers capable of robust detection of ASD from non-ASD.By applying 17 unique supervised learning methods across 5 classification families tuned for sparse use of features and to be within 1 standard error of the optimal model, we find reduced sets of 10 and 5 features used in a majority of models. We tested the performance of the most interpretable of these sparse models, including Logistic Regression with L2 regularization or Linear SVM with L1 regularization. We obtained an area under the ROC curve of 0.95 for ADOS Module 3 and 0.93 for ADOS Module 2 with less than or equal to 10 features.The resulting models provide improved stability over previous machine learning efforts to minimize the time complexity of autism detection due to regularization and a small parameter space. These robustness techniques yield classifiers that are sparse, interpretable and that have potential to generalize to alternative modes of autism screening, diagnosis and monitoring, possibly including analysis of short home videos.
View details for PubMedID 29270283
Crowdsourced validation of a machine-learning classification system for autism and ADHD.
2017; 7 (5)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) together affect >10% of the children in the United States, but considerable behavioral overlaps between the two disorders can often complicate differential diagnosis. Currently, there is no screening test designed to differentiate between the two disorders, and with waiting times from initial suspicion to diagnosis upwards of a year, methods to quickly and accurately assess risk for these and other developmental disorders are desperately needed. In a previous study, we found that four machine-learning algorithms were able to accurately (area under the curve (AUC)>0.96) distinguish ASD from ADHD using only a small subset of items from the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). Here, we expand upon our prior work by including a novel crowdsourced data set of responses to our predefined top 15 SRS-derived questions from parents of children with ASD (n=248) or ADHD (n=174) to improve our model's capability to generalize to new, 'real-world' data. By mixing these novel survey data with our initial archival sample (n=3417) and performing repeated cross-validation with subsampling, we created a classification algorithm that performs with AUC=0.89±0.01 using only 15 questions.
View details for DOI 10.1038/tp.2017.86
View details for PubMedID 28509905
- The Feynman Propagator on Perturbations of Minkowski Space COMMUNICATIONS IN MATHEMATICAL PHYSICS 2016; 342 (1): 333-384
Use of machine learning for behavioral distinction of autism and ADHD.
Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continue to rise in prevalence, together affecting >10% of today's pediatric population, the methods of diagnosis remain subjective, cumbersome and time intensive. With gaps upward of a year between initial suspicion and diagnosis, valuable time where treatments and behavioral interventions could be applied is lost as these disorders remain undetected. Methods to quickly and accurately assess risk for these, and other, developmental disorders are necessary to streamline the process of diagnosis and provide families access to much-needed therapies sooner. Using forward feature selection, as well as undersampling and 10-fold cross-validation, we trained and tested six machine learning models on complete 65-item Social Responsiveness Scale score sheets from 2925 individuals with either ASD (n=2775) or ADHD (n=150). We found that five of the 65 behaviors measured by this screening tool were sufficient to distinguish ASD from ADHD with high accuracy (area under the curve=0.965). These results support the hypotheses that (1) machine learning can be used to discern between autism and ADHD with high accuracy and (2) this distinction can be made using a small number of commonly measured behaviors. Our findings show promise for use as an electronically administered, caregiver-directed resource for preliminary risk evaluation and/or pre-clinical screening and triage that could help to speed the diagnosis of these disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1038/tp.2015.221
View details for PubMedID 26859815
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4872425
A Practical Approach to Real-Time Neutral Feature Subtraction for Facial Expression Recognition
View details for Web of Science ID 000382670200129
- Propagation of singularities around a Lagrangian submanifold of radial points Bulletin de la SMF 2015
PROPAGATION OF SINGULARITIES AROUND A LAGRANGIAN SUBMANIFOLD OF RADIAL POINTS
BULLETIN DE LA SOCIETE MATHEMATIQUE DE FRANCE
2015; 143 (4): 679-726
View details for Web of Science ID 000371649000003
- A Normal Form Around a Lagrangian Submanifold of Radial Points INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESEARCH NOTICES 2014: 4804-4821
- The Feynman propagator on perturbations of minkowski space. arXiv.org 2014
- Microlocal analysis of Lagrangian submanifolds of radial points Stanford University Thesis 2013
- Color-Permuting Automorphisms of Cayley Graphs Congressus Numerantium 2008; 190: 161-177