I am an associate professor (with tenure) in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University (OSU). Before joining OSU, I was a visiting scientist at the University of Washington (2016), and received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of California, Santa Barbara (2015) and a B.S. in EEIS from the University of Science and Technology of China (2010).

Check out my awesome group!

I am looking for multiple highly self-motivated Ph.D. students and Postdocs (especially those from underrepresented groups), and also have interest in advising passionate master and undergraduate students, as well as hosting visiting students with strong records. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested. OSU is ranked 24th in Artificial Intelligence and 19th in Systems by US News in 2022! Note that no ranking is perfect and please consider multiple dimensions when choosing a program.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in natural language processing (NLP), data mining, and artificial intelligence, with emphasis on natural language interfaces (NLIs) to texts, tables, knowledge graphs, relational databases and computer programs (i.e., question answering, semantic parsing, program synthesis) and making such NLIs interactive and conversational to help users complete tasks through dialogue (i.e., task-oriented dialogue systems, conversational AI).

We aim to develop advanced models and systems that enable users to easily query big data, write compute programs, collaborate with each other, and acquire knowledge for decision making in various domains such as healthcare, education, and business. Our vision is to develop human-centered intelligent agents that communicate in natural language to boost human productivity and well-being, and that are transparent and interactive to help humans understand them and allow humans to intervene.


Publications (Full list) & Awards

Students & Services & Outreach (Selected Activities)

  • 01/2023: I will serve as an Area Chair for ACL 2023!
  • 12/2022: Congratulations to Zhen Wang for a successful Ph.D. defense and for a postdoc position jointly hosted by UCSD/MBZUAI/CMU.
  • 11/2022: Congratulations to Xiang Deng for winning the prestigious Presidential Fellowship (Only 1 in CSE in 2022)! "The Presidential Fellowship is the most prestigious award given by the Graduate School. Recipients of this award embody the highest standards of scholarship in the full range of Ohio State's graduate programs."
  • 04/2022: Congratulations to Undergraduate Ron Chen for winning the University Fellowship and joining OSU NLP group as a Ph.D. student!
  • 03/2022: Congratulations to Ron Chen and Zhen Wang for winning the annual Undergraduate Research Award and Graduate Research Award in CSE, respectively!
  • 05/2021: Congratulations to Ziyu Yao for joining George Mason (CS) as Assistant Professor in the coming Fall!
  • 12/2020: Congratulations to Zhen Wang for being selected to attend the 2021 Rising Stars in Data Science Workshop hosted by UChicago!
  • 12/2020: Congratulations to my undergraduate student Xinliang (Frederick) Zhang for being awarded the highly competitive CRA Undergraduate Research Award (Honorable Mention)!
  • 11/2020: Congratulations to Ziyu Yao for being awarded the highly prestigious Presidential Fellowship (Only 1 in CSE in 2020)!
  • 11/2020: Congratulations to Jie Zhao for successfully defending his thesis! Jie will be our first Ph.D. graduate and will join Amazon Alexa Shopping team.
  • 10/2020: Congratulations to Ziyu Yao for being selected into Rising Stars 2020!
  • 10/2020: I will serve as an Area Chair for NAACL 2021!
  • 07/2020: Co-organized and co-hosted the first workshop on Natural Language Interfaces at ACL'20!
  • 06/2020: Invited to review for Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (TACL)!
  • 03/2020: Ph.D. student Ziyu Yao, Zhen Wang, and Xiang Deng will intern at Carnegie Mellon University, NEC labs, and Microsoft Research this summer. Congratulations!
  • 11/2019: Undergraduate research assistant Frederick Zhang was awarded a scholarship by CoE towards “Research Distinction” or “Honors Research Distinction". Congratulations!
  • 11/2019: Ph.D. student Jie Zhao is to intern at Outreach (startup) for the coming 5 months. Congratulations!
  • 2019 - 2020: Happy to serve as a faculty mentor in the OSU Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, which aims to diversify the STEM workforce by increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM degrees, with an emphasis on improving community college pathways to STEM degrees through collaborative faculty and peer mentoring programs.
  • 08/2019: Session Chair at SIGKDD 2019.
  • 03/2018-05/2019: Honored to serve as Publicity Co-chair and Session Chair for SDM 2019.
  • 03/2018: Invited to be Review Editor in Data Mining and Management, part of the journal Frontiers in Big Data and AI.
  • 03/2018: Ph.D. student Ziyu Yao will intern at Microsoft Research, Redmond this coming summer to work on Reinforcement Learning + NLP. Congratulations!
  • 11/2017: Ph.D. student Ziyu Yao’s summer internship experience at Fujitsu Laboratories of America was reported by OSU TDAI.
  • 01/2017: I am on the program committee of SIGKDD 2017, ACL 2017, EMNLP 2017, CIKM 2017 (senior PC), IJCAI-BOOM 2017 (Please consider submitting to BOOM)


  • 12/2022: We are excited for being selected to participate in the second Amazon Alexa Taskbot Challenge.
  • 04/2022: We are thankful for being funded by Cisco to build transparent interactive natural language interfaces to relational databases.
  • 03/2022: We are thrilled for being funded by Google Research Scholar Award to empower large pre-trained language models for complex reasoning.
  • 07/2021: We are thrilled for being funded by the NSF AI institute and to develop natural language and conversational interfaces to help users query data, build models, and write programs towards the ultimate goal of democratizing AI.
  • 05/2021: We are grateful for being funded by the President’s Research Excellence Grant in collaboration with Dr. Xia Ning and Dr. Xiaoxue Wang.
  • 05/2021: We are excited for being selected (10 out of 125 applicant teams) to participate in the first Amazon Alexa Taskbot Challenge.
  • 03/2020: We are grateful for being funded by the NSF Early CAREER program.
  • 02/2020: We are thankful for being funded by Google.
  • 08/2018: We are thankful for being funded by the NSF core small program for our research.
  • 11/2017: We are thrilled and thankful for receiving a PCORI grant in collaboration with Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
  • 09/2017: We are grateful for receiving an ARO grant for our research.
  • 03/2017: We received a gift grant from Fujitsu Laboratories of America. Thanks, Fujitsu!



Many thanks to NSF, PCORI, ARO, Google, Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Cisco, and Ohio Supercomputer Center for their generous support of our research.

Last updated: 01/01/2023