CS Commencement

 Congratulations to all of you, graduates of the Class of 2020!

We are extremely proud of all that you have accomplished. You have earned your degree through hard work, reflection, clever ideas, and resilience. We hope that you look back on this time and the experiences you had with us at Stanford as enriching, incomparable and unforgettable.

The Class of 2020 will be remembered as the class emerging into the global pandemic and amidst social upheaval. While these events may challenge your plans and temporarily be an obstacle in your path, we are confident that you have the drive, skill and resilience to overcome and thrive.

You are entering a new world that needs your creativity and skills more than ever. As a computer scientist, you have the opportunity to foster technology to better connect and unite us and to serve the greater good. Remember that from disaster and setbacks come opportunity. Take this opportunity to go forward, crusade for causes you believe in and make the world a better place.

The CS Department remains committed to celebrating with an on-campus celebration at a future date when it is feasible and safe to do so. We cannot wait until we can gather with your family and friends in Frost Amphitheater to cheer as you walk across the stage. Until that time, remember how proud we are of each and every one of you.


Free Stanford Alumni Association Membership for 2020 Graduates

The Stanford Alumni Association is offering a free lifetime membership to all Class of 2020 graduates. Details are here: https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/membership/faq-newgrads


 Congratulations to the Following Award Recipients:

 Danqi Chen - Arthur Samuel Best Doctoral Thesis Award

The Arthur Samuel Best Doctoral Thesis Award has been awarded to Danqi Chen. In her dissertation thesis: Neural Reading Comprehension and Beyond, Danqi Chen developed key approaches for using neural networks for reading comprehension and question answering. Her attention-based reading comprehension system, the Stanford Attentive Reader, was one of the earliest such systems. Danqi’s dissertation was then first in showing how such a neural system could be built out into a complete open domain large text collection question answering system – the technology that underlies general systems for question answering, which are increasingly being deployed in web search engines.

 Sarah Tollman - The Christofer Stephenson Memorial Award for Graduate Research

The Christofer Stephenson Memorial Award for Graduate Research has been awarded to Sarah Tollman for her thesis: Understanding Egalitarian Paxos and Using Synchronized Clocks to Increase Commutativity for Geo-Replication. Sarah's thesis work began with a simple goal of reproducing previously published measurements of the EPaxos consensus algorithm, as a first step in a larger project. However, her initial measurements raised unexpected questions. As she dug deeper to answer those questions, she discovered more and more surprising behaviors. Her relentless pursuit of answers led eventually to a very different approach to measuring the performance of EPaxos, with conclusions different from the published ones. She also implemented improvements to EPaxos, including a new technique that uses synchronized clocks to reduce the system's conflict rate.

 Mario Srouji - The Christofer Stephenson Memorial Award for Graduate Research

The Christofer Stephenson Memorial Award for Graduate Research has been awarded to Mario Srouji for his thesis: Auto-SQED: Automated Symbolic Quick Error Detection (SQED) for Formal Verification. Mario's work is in the critical area of hardware verification – making sure that new electronic designs work correctly. He built a tool that dramatically reduces the manual effort required to apply a powerful verification technique called Symbolic Quick Error Detection (SQED). Previously, applying SQED required writing hundreds of lines of highly complex code customized for specific hardware designs and their idiosyncrasies. Such approaches require significant manual work and are error prone. Mario's contribution now makes it possible to automate almost all of this, only requiring that a circuit designer fill out a short, structured template. This significantly lowers the barrier to entry for research and industry teams to leverage the power of SQED verification, which will help ensure that electronic systems including those we use every day are safe and reliable.

 Maya Varma - The Kennedy Thesis Prize | The Ben Wegbreit Prize for Undergraduate CS Research | The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Maya Varma won not one or two, but three (!) awards for her honors thesis: Artificial Intelligence Methods for Improved Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Maya won the incredibly prestigious Kennedy Thesis Prize, which is awarded to four students across the university. Maya’s paper was the top thesis across the fields of engineering and applied science. Maya was also awarded the Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which recognizes the top ten percent of all undergraduate honors theses. Maya also won the Ben Wegbreit Prize for Undergraduate CS Research, which goes to the top honors thesis in the CS Department. Maya’s thesis is special because it crosses disciplines through innovative methods to create solutions for a major health challenge. It shows how to use computer science to better understand something as complex as autism, and how to use artificial intelligence to help families manage the condition. Maya is special because she cares not just about the science but the humans her science will impact. She is talented and brilliant yet remains humble and true to a pure path that will inspire generations of students to follow in her footsteps.

 Alexandra Henzinger - Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research | The Ford Scholar Award

Alexandra Henzinger won the Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for her honors thesis: Automating the Mapping of Computation and Data onto Heterogeneous Hardware as well as the Ford Scholar Award. The Firestone Medal recognizes the top ten percent of all undergraduate honors theses. Alexandra’s thesis Alexandra displayed uncommon poise and creativity in tackling her honors thesis. She took an ill-formed problem and successfully clarified it and devised an elegant solution for efficiently searching a very large space with an unusual structure. Beyond her conceptual insights, the care that she took with the experimental work was essential to having a basis for understanding subtle issues that might have been missed otherwise. Beyond the research itself, she has been an excellent member of our research community, always willing to help others.

Alexandra also won the Ford Scholar award. The Ford Scholar Award goes to the five undergraduate students who have the top GPA in the School of Engineering and are pursuing an advanced degree. This year, 3 of the 5 award winners were CS graduates!

 Sahaj Garg - The Ford Scholar Award

The Ford Scholar Award goes to the five undergraduate students who have the top GPA in the School of Engineering and are pursuing an advanced degree. This year, 3 of the 5 award winners were CS graduates!

 Nguyet Minh Phu - The Ford Scholar Award

The Ford Scholar Award goes to the five undergraduate students who have the top GPA in the School of Engineering and are pursuing an advanced degree. This year, 3 of the 5 award winners were CS graduates!

 Brahm Capoor - The George E. Forsythe Memorial Award for Excellence in Student Teaching

The George E. Forsythe Memorial Award for Excellence in Student Teaching goes to Brahm Capoor for his invaluable contributions to the CS198 program as a Section Leader and Head TA, as well as his overall contributions to the CS department with his work on the BlueBook exam software. Faculty who worked with him were continually impressed by his helpfulness, initiative, and care. His students have universally commented on the incredible job he did in supporting them. The feedback to his teaching “bordered on idolization.” Brahm is among the strongest TAs we have ever had in the department.

 Will Crichton | Jinyi Li | Mark Miller - Student Services Awards

Will Crichton, Jingyi Li and Mark Miller are being awarded the Student Services Award for their service as the student co-chairs of the PhD Admission Weekend Committee for 2020. These three PhD students are being acknowledged for their untiring work in the planning and implementation of admit weekend events. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s admit weekend was quite challenging and necessitated a last-minute change to a “virtual” event. Will, Mark and Jingyi immediately switched gears and organized virtual student meetings, research specific slack channels and other events to help the admitted students make an informed decision. They were critical in making the PhD admit weekend a great success. We thank them for devoting their time and effort toward the recruitment of our 2020 PhD class.

 Abdallah AbuHashem | Emma Alderton | Jennie Chen | Ryan Eberhardt | Aditya Grover | Janna Huang | Reyna Hulett | David Lin | Camilo Ruiz - The Centennial Teaching Assistant Award

The Centennial Teaching Assistant Award recognizes outstanding teaching assistants for their tremendous service and dedication in providing excellent classroom instruction for Stanford students.