With numerous new courses, new faculty members, and a broader range of research fields, Computer Science (CS) at Yale is better positioned than ever to meet new challenges and meet the needs of students, interdisciplinary research on campus, and industry.
The CS department recently added nine tenure track faculty members and four path instructors to its ranks. These hires are in addition to an earlier round of 11 new tenure-track faculty members and two faculty hired in recent years. As hiring increases, a number of long-term goals will be met, including expanding the department’s areas of expertise. As Computer Science has become the second most popular major (just behind Economics) at Yale, it will go a long way in meeting students’ curriculum needs.
“Our new faculty members were selected for the excellence of their research as well as the subject areas they represent, all of which have been in high demand from both our students and faculty on campus, as well as industry,” said Zhong Shao, the Thomas L. Kempner Professor for computer science and institute director. “The breadth of their expertise addresses some of the most critical challenges we face today.”
SEAS Dean Jeffrey Brock said the new faculty will be critical to realizing the ambitious goals set out in SEAS’ strategic vision, particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence and robotics, while building key areas such as cybersecurity and distributed computing.
“This exciting cohort of new faculty will transform our CS department,” said Brock. “Throughout our recruiting season, they felt the dynamism of Yale in CS and Engineering and ultimately turned down excellent offers from other top schools to join our faculty. Their presence will allow Yale CS to expand their course offerings and build critical mass in both core and cutting-edge research areas.”
Many of the new faculty members, like Fan Zhang, cited the department’s “rapid growth in recent years.” Others said they were drawn to Yale’s collaborative environment, especially considering Yale is at or near the top in numerous research areas. Daniel Rakita, for example, said he looks forward to collaborating with Yale Medical School to see how his lab’s robotics research can help in hospital or home care settings, as well as collaborating with the Wu Tsai Institute on brain-machine interface technologies.
“A lot of people I’ve talked to have said that at Yale there are no boundaries between departments and that interdisciplinary research is not just encouraged here, it’s a ‘way of life,'” Rakita said. Many of the new faculties have already worked with key academic leaders on campus, from medicine to economics to quantum computing.
As part of this hiring surge, the department strategically focused on specific research areas, including artificial intelligence, trusted computing, robotics, quantum computing, and modeling.
The nine newly hired tenure track faculty and their research areas are listed below.
[We spoke to these new faculty members about their research, their motivations, potential collaborations, and much more. Click here to learn more about each of our latest faculty]
- Arman Cohan: Research at the intersection of machine learning and natural language processing
- Ben Fish: Data protection and verifiability on the Internet, with applications on blockchains such as Bitcoin
- Tesla Fitzgerald: Development of algorithms that allow robots to adapt to task variations (e.g. new tools, goals or constraints) that they were not trained to handle
- Daniel Rakita: Development of algorithms that enable robotic manipulators to move in real environments
- Katerina Sotiraki: Cryptography and its development in anticipation of quantum computing. Specifically, it is about the further development of cryptography against quantum attacks
- Alex Wong: Provision of cognition to enable autonomous tasks
- Rex Yin: Graph learning applications that include social network analysis, protein networks, and drug discovery
- Manolis Zampetakis: Foundations of machine learning (ML), statistics and data science, including statistical analysis of biased data
- Fan Zhang: Computer security, with a focus on the science of blockchains
The four newly hired lecturers and their research areas are:
- Ozan Erat: computer vision
- Dylan McKay: theory of computation
- Sohee Park: Multimedia, machine learning
- Alan Willow: programming languages
This hiring season is the first since the structural changes that have made SEAS more independent and allowed more faculty lines for growth.
“Our independence and ability to be opportunistic have been key elements in our ability to realize this transformative growth in computing at Yale,” said Brock. “With CS playing such a critical role across an increasingly broad spectrum of disciplines, the size and breadth of CS is critical to our strategy for SEAS. I am pleased to be able to take the first step towards realizing this vision for a SEAS that is well integrated into its host university and aligned with its mission.”
SEAS became independent from the Faculty of Philosophy in July 2022.
A curriculum that meets the needs of students and industry
Expansion of the department’s curriculum has also been in the pipeline for some time, a goal made possible by the recent hiring of new faculty and faculty. Shao said there are concerted efforts to meet high demand in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, introductory programming and CS courses for non-majors.
“It’s been on the department’s to-do list for many years, but we just didn’t have the manpower,” Shao said. “And finally, with the newly hired teachers, we can actually offer these courses.”
Ben Fisch, for example, will be teaching a new course on blockchains for both graduate and advanced computer science students. Tesca Fitzgerald will present a new graduate seminar on interactive robotic learning. And Katerina Sotiraki will teach courses in theoretical and applied cryptography at both undergraduate and graduate levels. These are just some of the new courses that will be available.
In response to industry needs, the department has also added courses that focus on so-called full-stack web programming – ie the skills required to develop the interface as well as the coding behind building a complete web application. One of the department’s most popular courses, Software Engineering, is now offered for both semesters of the year instead of just one. Both, according to Shao, are specially designed to meet the needs of industry and students.
“As new challenges arise, computer science at Yale will continue to adapt,” Shao said. “We’re excited about the future of our faculty, and these new additions to our faculty and curriculum will be a big part of that.”