• CV
  • Publications
  • Experience
  • Awards
  • Teaching
  • Service

About me

Since Summer 2017, I have been a Ph.D. student in Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), The Ohio State University (OSU), under the supervision of Prof. Huan Sun. Before joining OSU, I got my B.S. in Communication Engineering from Beijing Univerity of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT) in 2015.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in AI, NLP, Reinforcement Learning and Deep Learning, particularly: (1) Building Natural Language Interfaces to assist humans with knowledge acquisition and problem solving; (2) Human-Machine/Multi-Agent Interaction, exploring cooperative or adversarial mechanisms and scenarios among humans and machines; (3) Application of Reinforcement Learning and Deep Learning algorithms to interdisciplinary domains, such as Text Mining/NLP + Software Engineering.


  • 05/2019: One paper accepted to ACL'19 (my first ACL paper ever). Congrats to my collaborator Boyuan!
  • 04/2019: Serve as a PC member for ACL Student Research Workshop 2019.
  • 01/2019: Our work exploring machine collaborations between Code Annotation and Code Retrieval is accepted by WWW'19!
  • 10/2018: We built an Interactive Semantic Parser: talk to your parser to resolve NL ambiguities (accepted by AAAI'19)!
  • 08/2018: To know more about StaQC? Check out our work "A Comprehensive Study of StaQC for Deep Code Summarization" (accepted by SIGKDD'18 Deep Learning Day)!
  • 05/2018: Feeling thrilled to start internship at Microsoft Research @ Redmond this summer!!
  • 04/2018: Attended WWW 2018 conference @ Lyon, France and present our work "StaQC: A Systematically Mined Question-Code Dataset from Stack Overflow". Check out the slides and quick StaQC examples!
  • 04/2018: Attended CRA Grad Cohort Workshop for Women (CRA-W) @ San Francisco.
  • 09/2017: Gave a talk about "Mining Code Answers to Natural Language Questions" at OSU CSE AI seminar.


  1. B. Pan, H. Li, Z. Yao, D. Cai, H. Sun, "Reinforced Dynamic Reasoning for Conversational Question Generation", To appear at ACL 2019. [Paper][Code]
  2. Z. Yao, J. R. Peddamail, H. Sun, "CoaCor: Code Annotation for Code Retrieval with Reinforcement Learning", The Web Conference (WWW) 2019. (Acceptance rate: 18%) [Paper][Code]
  3. Z. Yao, X. Li, J. Gao, B. Sadler, H. Sun, "Interactive Semantic Parsing for If-Then Recipes via Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning", AAAI 2019. (Acceptance rate: 16.2%, SPOTLIGHT) [Paper][Appendix][Code][Slides][Poster]
  4. J. R. Peddamail, Z. Yao, Z. Wang, H. Sun, "A Comprehensive Study of StaQC for Deep Code Summarization", KDD 2018 Deep Learning Day. [Paper][*Update]
  5. Z. Yao, D. S. Weld, W.P. Chen, H. Sun, "StaQC: A Systematically Mined Question-Code Dataset from Stack Overflow", The Web Conference (former WWW Conference) 2018. (Acceptance rate: 14.8%) [Paper][Slides][Data&Code][Quick examples]
  6. L. Zhao, M. Huang, Z. Yao, R. Su, Y. Jiang, X. Zhu. "Semi-Supervised Multi-nomial Naive Bayes for Text Classification by Leveraging Word-Level Statistical Constraint", AAAI 2016. [Paper]
  7. Z. Yao, S. Tu, M. Huang, X. Zhu. "A Semi-Supervised Method for Filtering Chinese Spam Tweets". Journal of Chinese Information Processing. 2016, 30(5):176-186. [Paper]



  • NSF Student Travel Award for The Web Conference 2019 (WWW'19).
  • Graduate Students Poster Award (Honorable Mention), OSU, 2019.
  • Travel Grant for CRA-W Graduate Cohort for Women, San Francisco, 2018.
  • Beijing Outstanding Graduate Award, Beijing, 2015.
  • First-class Scholarship (top 3%), BUPT, 2012, 2014.
  • Second-class Scholarship (top 5%), BUPT, 2013.



  • Program Committee/Reviewer: ACL SRW 2019, EMNLP 2018.
  • External/Secondary Reviewer: KDD 2019, KDDFeed Workshop 2019, NAACL 2019, ICDM 2018, ACL 2018, KDD 2017, WWW 2017, CIKM 2016, ICDM 2016.

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