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Jean Yang

Assistant Professor (on leave)
Computer Science Department
Carnegie Mellon University

jyang2 [at] cs [dot] cmu [dot] edu
GHC 7113
Curriculum Vitae
Administrative Assistant

Erin Davis, eedavis [at] andrew [dot] cmu [dot] edu

Jean Yang

I am on academic leave during the 2018-2019 academic year. I am starting a Bay Area-based company to help companies get back in control of their data.

I am an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. I am a member of the Principles of Programming group and affiliated with the Pure and Applied Logic program. I also have an affiliate appointment in CMU's Computational Biology Department. You may read more about the active projects of my research group on our group website.

I received my PhD from MIT in 2015 and my bachelor's degree from Harvard in 2008. During the 2015-2016 academic year I visited the Fontana Lab at Harvard Medical School.

Research Mission

More and more people are programming: not only those with traditional Computer Science backgrounds, but also physical scientists, journalists, and more. We have an unprecedented opportunity to shape how people reason about software--and the systems that people do not yet call software. The goal of my research is to make provable guarantees ubiquitous. I am interested in designing programming models, language implementation strategies, and programming tools to make it easier for people to create the software they intended. I am particularly interested in applying these ideas to the security and privacy of software systems.

Outreach Mission

Public understanding and consumption determine the impact of research. Because of this, I am interested in improving science communication and facilitating commercialization of technical ideas. From 2013-2015 I co-directed NeuWrite Boston, a working group of scientists and science writers, with Amanda Gefter. To narrow the gap between academia and industry, I co-founded the Cybersecurity Factory, an accelerator for security startups, with Frank Wang. As the Publicity Chair for Principles of Programming Languages, one of the flagship conferences of our research area, I created the People of Programming Languages interview series to convey what programming languages research is and why we do it.


Our paper, "A Trace Query Language for Rule-based Models" (with Jonathan Laurent, Hector Medina-Abarca, Pierre Boutillier, and Walter Fontana), will appear at CMSB 2018.
I wrote an op-ed in TIME, "Want to Keep Personal Information Safe Online? Fix the Software," in response to Facebook/Cambridge Analytica, about how regulation needs to become more technical.
Our paper, "Counterfactual Resimulation for Causal Analysis of Rule-Based Models" (with Jonathan Laurent and Walter Fontana), appeared at IJCAI 2018.
I received the NSF CAREER Award for my proposal A Policy-Agnostic Programming Framework for Statistical Privacy.
I spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos about our group's work on policy-agnostic programming. I also had the honor of being on a cyber war panel with former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Microsoft president Brad Smith.

On Community

Technology is a powerful social tool. Astra Taylor writes that "programmers and the corporate officers who employ them are the new urban planners, shaping the virtual frontier into the spaces we occupy." Everyone, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to contribute to shaping this frontier.

Towards this, I started Graduate Women at MIT during my PhD and am generally interested in encouraging more women and underrepresented groups to pursue technology as a career.

Also interested in creating more positive, supportive workplace environments, I started the Positivity@MIT project.


It is now fashionable to have such a section on one's website.


To make myself feel better about spending most of my time indoors in a non-tropical climate, I spend a lot of time caring for my warm-weather plants. I like to go for long runs and bike rides. My sister Victoria Yang attends Columbia University and writes for the Columbia Daily Spectator.

© Jean Yang 2015. Last updated August 13, 2018.