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Mikhail Belkin

Mikhail Belkin received his Ph.D. in 2003 from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. His research interests are in theory and  applications of machine learning and data analysis. Some of his well-known work includes widely used Laplacian Eigenmaps, Graph Regularization and Manifold Regularization algorithms, which brought ideas from classical differential geometry and spectral analysis to data science. His recent work has been concerned with understanding remarkable mathematical and statistical phenomena observed in deep learning. This empirical evidence necessitated revisiting some of the basic concepts in statistics and optimization.  One of his key recent findings is the “double descent” risk curve that extends the textbook U-shaped bias-variance trade-off curve beyond the point of interpolation.

Mikhail Belkin is a recipient of a NSF Career Award and a number of best paper and other awards. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, IEEE Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence and SIAM Journal on Mathematics of Data Science.

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Preetum Nakkiran

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Alex Cloninger
Assistant Professor

Alex Cloninger is an Assistant Professor in Mathematics and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. He received his PhD in Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation from the University of Maryland in 2014, and was then an NSF Postdoc and Gibbs Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Yale University until 2017, when he joined UCSD.  Alex researches problems in the area of geometric data analysis and applied harmonic analysis.  He focuses on approaches that model the data as being locally lower dimensional, including data concentrated near manifolds or subspaces.    The techniques developed have led to research in a number of machine learning and statistical algorithms, including deep learning, network analysis, signal processing, and measuring distances between probability distributions.  This has also led to collaborations on problems in several scientific disciplines, including imaging, medicine, and artificial intelligence.

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Tara Javidi
Professor, HDSI Faculty Fellow

Javidi founded and co-directs the Center for Machine-Integrated Computing and Security at UC San Diego. Among her projects is DetecDrone Target Search Technology, what she calls drones that think. Her research focus is on stochastic analysis, design, and control of information collection, processing, and transfer in modern communication and networked systems. Interests include: Information acquisition and utilization (such as active hypothesis testing and variable length coding over channels with feedback); optimal routing in wireless mesh networks; cognitive and delay-sensitive communications and networking; and communications under application and/or secrecy constraints. Her work includes the applications of microeconomic theory and organizational science to the design of wireless networks.

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Yian Ma
Assistant Professor

Yian Ma works on scalable inference methods and their theoretical guarantees, with a focus on time series data and sequential decision making. He has been developing new Bayesian inference algorithms for uncertainty quantification as well as deriving computational and statistical guarantees for them.

Prior to his appointment at UCSD, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. He obtained his Ph.D. degree at University of Washington and his bachelor’s degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

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Arya Mazumdar
Associate Professor

Arya Mazumdar obtained his Ph.D. degree from University of Maryland, College Park (2011) specializing in information theory. Subsequently Arya was a postdoctoral scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011-2012), an assistant professor in University of Minnesota (2013-2015), and an assistant followed by associate professor in University of Massachusetts Amherst (2015-2021). Arya is a recipient of multiple awards, including a Distinguished Dissertation Award for his Ph.D. thesis (2011), the NSF CAREER award (2015), an EURASIP JSAP Best Paper Award (2020), and the IEEE ISIT Jack K. Wolf Student Paper Award (2010). He is currently serving as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory and as an Area editor for Now Publishers Foundation and Trends in Communication and Information Theory series. Arya’s research interests include coding theory (error-correcting codes and related combinatorics), information theory, statistical learning and distributed optimization.

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Avishek Ghosh


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Rayan Saab
Associate Professor

Rayan’s work is on the mathematics of information, data, and signals. His research is broadly motivated by problems in the acquisition, digitization, and processing of data. For example, he is interested in sampling and quantization, compressed sensing, sparse  and low-dimensional representations of data, as well as inverse problems like phase retrieval and blind source separation.

Before joining UCSD as an assistant professor in 2013, he was a visiting assistant professor and a Banting postdoctoral fellow at Duke University (2011-2013). Before that, he completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2010, where he was a member of the Institute of Applied Mathematics.

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Babak Salimi
Assistant Professor

Babak Salimi is an assistant professor in HDSI at UC San Diego. Before joining UC San Diego, he was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington where he worked with Prof. Dan Suciu and the database group. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carleton University, advised by Prof. Leopoldo Bertossi.  His research seeks to unify techniques from theoretical data management, causal inference and machine learning to develop a new generation of decision-support systems that help people with heterogeneous background to interpret data. His ongoing work in causal relational learning aims to develop the necessary conceptual foundations to make causal inference from complex relational data. Further, his research in the area of responsible data science develops needed foundations for ensuring fairness and accountability in the era of data-driven decisions. His research contributions have been recognized with a Research Highlight Award in ACM SIGMOD, a Best Demonstration Paper Award at VLDB and a Best Paper Award in ACM SIGMOD.

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Berk Ustun
Assistant Professor

Berk Ustun is an incoming Assistant Professor at the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. His research lies at the intersection of machine learning, optimization, and human-centered design. Specifically, he is interested in developing methods to promote the adoption and responsible use of machine learning in medicine, consumer finance, and criminal justice.

Prior to his appointment at UCSD, Ustun held research positions at Google AI and the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard. He received a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, an MS in Computation for Design and Optimization from MIT, and BS degrees in Operations Research and Economics from UC Berkeley. For more details, please see


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Yusu Wang

Yusu Wang obtained her PhD degree from Duke University in 2004, and from 2004 – 2005, she was a was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University. Prior to joining UC San Diego, Yusu Wang is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Department at the Ohio State University, where she also co-directed the Foundations of Data Science Research CoP (Community of Practice) at Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI@OSU) from 2018–2020.

Yusu Wang primarily works in the field of geometric and topological data analysis. She is particularly interested in developing effective and theoretically justified algorithms for data analysis using geometric and topological ideas and methods, as well as in applying them to practical domains. Very recently she has been exploring how to combine geometric and topological ideas with machine learning frameworks for modern data science.

Yusu Wang received the Best PhD Dissertation Award from the Computer Science Department at Duke University. She also received DOE Early Career Principal Investigator Award in 2006, and NSF Career Award in 2008. Her work received several best paper awards. She is currently on the editorial boards for SIAM Journal on Computing (SICOMP), Computational Geometry: Theory and Applications (CGTA), and Journal of Computational Geometry (JoCG). She is elected to serve on the Computational Geometry Steering Committee in 2020.


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Lily Weng
Assistant Professor

Lily Weng is an Assistant Professor in the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. Her research interests focus on the intersection between machine learning, optimization and reinforcement learning, with applications in cybersecurity and healthcare. Specifically, her vision is to make the next generation AI systems and deep learning algorithms more robust, reliable, trustworthy and safer. She has worked on developing efficient algorithms as well as theoretical analysis to quantify robustness of deep neural networks. She received her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) from MIT in August 2020, and her Bachelor and Master degree both in Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University in 2011 and 2013. More details please see