On Programs that Learn to Write Programs

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - 4:00pm to Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 3:55pm

Event Calendar Category

LIDS Seminar Series

Speaker Name

Adam Kalai


Microsoft Research New England

Building and Room Number



Currently, it is humans who write the programs that are matching and surpassing human-level performance on challenge after challenge. With time, we expect more programs to be generated automatically by computers. We begin with an illustration of programming by demonstration from the field of text processing. Here, the computer is tasked with writing a program given examples, e.g., extracting and sorting a list of authors from a bibliography. We have a system that uses textual features of examples to improve on the brute force search over programs. For people who already know how to program, we show that using our system can be faster than writing programs. We then present a model of programs that output programs, more generally, and show how learning is a necessary ingredient that is missing in many approaches for generating programs.


Adam Tauman Kalai received his BA (1996) from Harvard, and MA (1998) and PhD (2001) under the supervision of Avrim Blum from CMU. After an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at MIT with Santosh Vempala, he served as an assistant professor at the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago and then at Georgia Tech. He is now a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England. His honors include an NSF Career Award and an Alfred P. Sloan fellowship. His research focuses on human computation, machine learning and algorithms.