Chris Martens

Assistant Professor of Computer Science

I am an assistant professor in the Computer Science (CSC) Department at NC State, where I direct the Principles of Expressive Machines (POEM) Lab. My interests span programming languages, automated reasoning (logic/symbolic AI), and computational media (digital games and interactive storytelling).

Previously, I was a postdoc with the Expressive Intelligence Studio at UC Santa Cruz, and I did my Ph.D. in the Principles of Programming Group at CMU.

My pronouns are they/them.

Research

See my publications.

I am broadly interested in computational tools for building and reasoning about interactive systems. I use computational logic through the lens of proofs-as-programs and proofs-search-as-execution to model cognitive phenomena like social interaction, mental models of virtual worlds, and creative processes. I am increasingly interested in human-computer interaction (HCI) methodologies for better understanding how formal reasoning systems can be used to interface with (amplify, analyze, or augment) human cognition. In the sense that I am developing computational models of cognition, my work also overlaps with artificial intelligence (AI).

Like poems (the namesake of my lab), my projects generally explore the relationship between syntax and semantics, between formal structure and expressive affordances. Examples include modeling narrative structure with linear logic; using dynamic epistemic logic to give a theory of mind to agents that can play communicative, social games; using constraint solving and static analysis to generate games that communicate specific ideas through interactive processes; examining interfaces to virtual worlds through the lens of programming languages; generating puzzle game levels that facilitate robust mental models; and developing authoring tools for autonomous virtual characters that assist with sound reasoning about emergent behavior. The premise on which my work hinges is that if we can better understanding the way that tools and formal models mirror and support cognitive processes, then we can enable creators from increasingly diverse backgrounds (storytellers, artists, engineers, etc.) to achieve their most ambitious expressive and creative goals.

For more information on current projects and opportunities for students, see the POEM Lab webpage.

Please read this before you email me.

Teaching

Spring 2020: CSC 484/584 (ugrad/grad) - Building Game AI

Fall 2019: CSC 503 (masters/PhD) - Computational Applied Logic

Spring 2019: CSC 582 (masters/PhD) - Computational Models of Narrative

Spring 2017, 2018: CSC 281 (undergraduate) - Foundations of Interactive Game Design

Fall 2016, 2017, 2018: CSC 791 (masters/PhD) - Generative Methods for Game Design

Colleagues

If my research interests appeal to you, you may also be interested in the following professors at NC State: Arnav Jhala, Tiffany Barnes, James Lester, and Thomas Price.

Outside of NC State, you may also be interested in the research of Anne-Gwenn Bosser, who led the charge on applying linear logic to interactive storytelling.