Michael Travers


I was at the Media Lab from 1987 to 1997 as a graduate student and research associate. At present I work at MDL Information Systems, where I design software to support pharmaceutical drug discovery. I'm also involved in the Biolingua Project, an effort to bring bring end-user programming to molecular biologists.

My dissertation was titled Programming with Agents: New metaphors for thinking about computation, and is available online. It was nominated by MIT for the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. A short summary of my work in this area is also available. I'm also interested in intelligent user interfaces, the sociology of virtual environments, the role of narrative in cognition, and lots of other things.

After I finished my degree, I stayed around the lab to work on the Virtual Fishtank project, for which I designed a visual programming system called Behave!.

I also put up the Media Lab's first web site, back in the prehistory of the Internet.

For more current work and information, see my personal site.

For part of my thesis work, I designed and built a graphic programming environment called LiveWorld. It features a hierarchical object model and direct manipulation interface, and looks like this:


For more information on LiveWorld, see my paper "Recursive Interfaces for Reactive Objects".

AntMy MS Thesis was titled Agar: An Animal Construction Kit (1988). This describes the Agar system, a tool for interactive modeling of animal behavior. Agar is best known for simulating ants.

writings Selected publications

Massar, J.P., Travers, M., Elhai, J., and Shrager, J., 2005. BioLingua: A programmable knowledge environment for biologists. BioInformatics 21(2):199-207.

Davis, M. and Travers, M., 2003. A Brief Overview of the Narrative Intelligence Reading Group. In Narrative Intelligence, eds. Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers. 27-38. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Company.

Travers, M., 2000. Dynamic Interaction in Java (retitled What is Interactive Scripting?), Dr. Dobb's Journal 25(1).

Travers, M., 1994. Recursive Interfaces for Reactive Objects, Proceedings of CHI'94, in Boston, Massachusetts. [.ps]

Travers, M., and Davis, M, 1993. Programming with Characters. In International Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces in Orlando, Florida.

Travers, M., 1992. Representation, Action, and Emotion, MIT Music and Cognition Group Technical Report #3.
(lost to time, but here is another unpublished paper presenting these ideas)

Borning, A. and Travers, M., 1991. Two Approaches to Informal Interaction Over Computer and Video Networks. In Proceedings of CHI '91 in New Orleans.

Travers, M., 1989. A Visual Representation for Knowledge Structures. In Proceedings of Hypertext '89, 147-158.

Travers, M, 1988. Animal Construction Kits. In Artificial Life, ed. C. Langton. Addison-Wesley.

tools Tools

Michael Travers / mt(at)alum.mit.edu