Date Posted: 7/22/2020

Lillian Lee has completed a celebrated six-year tenure as co-editor-in-chief of Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics (TACL), as noted on the ACL wiki:

Her single-minded leadership and persistent hard work on behalf of the journal is, more than any other factor, responsible for its transition from an initial homespun proof-of-concept to an institution with the policies and procedures to permit relatively straightforward transitioning of editorship. No problem was too specific or too general for Lillian to work to solve—she wrote code and performed sys admin tasks, drafted many of the journal's explicit policies on topics large and small, and advocated for important initiatives to the ACL executive board. All while also managing the monthly submission process. The remaining editorial team extends our warmest thanks to Lillian on behalf of the entire TACL community for all she has done for the journal — our jobs are much easier due to her foundational work.


Recent graduate Rishi Bommasani ’20 will attend Stanford University for doctoral studies in computer science. CS Professor Robert Kleinberg shared his impressions of Rishi:

When it comes to making a well-rounded set of contributions through research, teaching, and service, Rishi is as good as it gets. By the time he finished undergraduate school he had already written four research papers, one of them solo-authored and all of them first-authored. He won teaching awards from our department five times for his excellent work as an undergraduate teaching assistant. He inaugurated a new event in our department called CS Research Night which showcases research in the department and provides undergraduates with opportunities to apply to join research projects. The event attracted over 100 participants in its first iteration and over 150 in its second iteration. The impact of CS Research Night is well summarized by this quotation from a CS sophomore: "I came because I'm starting to think about research and I feel it's a little less intimidating to talk to the Ph.D. students. They're closer in age to me and also at a similar point in their life. They were so helpful and it was really cool to see all of the things happening in CS at Cornell.'' I can't tell you how impressed I am that Rishi, as an undergrad, had the vision, the initiative, and the organizational skills to pull off something like this. It also attests to his community-minded spirit, an aspect of his character that I have observed and appreciated many times over the years I've known him.

CS Professor Claire Cardie said of Rishi: “He's the best TA I've had in my 26 years at Cornell!” And with more elaboration:

I have been truly amazed both by Rishi's raw intelligence and his intuitions for how to do research—for each of his published papers, he was able to identify and make progress on a critically important problem from completely different subareas of Natural Language Processing. ... He is the most talented undergraduate that I have supervised for research in my 26 years at Cornell.

This past Fall, Rishi began to lead two or three small groups of undergraduates on NLP research projects related to his. In addition to research, Rishi excelled as a multiple-time award winning teaching assistant for the Computer Science department. He TA'd for me three times and was the best TA that I have ever had, taking the initiative in creating assignments, holding review sessions, organizing various logistical aspects of the 275-student class (Introduction to Natural Language Processing), and even in ordering food for our grading sessions.

On top of all of this, Rishi is super super nice. Full of energy and enthusiasm for all of computer science. Selfless in his countless offers to help me, my PhD students, other undergraduates, and the department as a whole in any way possible.

Rishi is simply amazing.

In a concurrent profile, read more about Rishi's experience studying computer science at Cornell.


Students at Cornell Tech are among the enterprising New Yorkers cited in The New York Times for mobilizing their talents and support for city neighbors in need during the pandemic: "Over at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island, a group of students, suddenly with time on their hands and a desire to contribute, decided to offer remote tech support to older neighbors. Sadik Antwi-Boampong (Johnson Cornell Tech MBA '20), one of the students coordinating the effort, talked a couple through a Medicare application by chatting with them on Google Hangout."


Eugene Bagdasaryan (MS ’19), CS professors Nate Foster, Deborah Estrin and Fred Schneider, among other researchers, propose a new platform that empowers users to protect their data. The new platform—Ancile—is discussed in Melanie Lefkowitz's coverage in the Chronicle:

The trove of digital data we generate in our daily lives can potentially make us more efficient, increase sustainability and improve our health, among other benefits, but it also poses threats to privacy. To help individuals take greater control of their personal information, a team of Cornell researchers has developed and tested a platform, Ancile, that allows users to set restrictions on what kind of data they’ll release, and to whom.

“A lot of data is being collected about us, and we don’t have agency in deciding how this data is used,” said Nate Foster, associate professor of computer science and principal investigator for the Ancile project. “The ecosystem around all this additional data has gotten really rich and complicated,” Foster said. “So we were interested in developing a systems infrastructure that would let us specify and enforce policies from the individuals’ perspective – to sort of invert the control.”

This research also offers insight into how contact-tracing apps might protect people from COVID-19 without sacrificing individual privacy. [Read the rest of the article]