June 4, 2021

Wenhu Chen is the latest Faculty Member to join the Vector Institute, a co-hire with the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo where Chen will work as an assistant professor beginning in the fall of 2022. Before joining Vector and the University of Waterloo in 2022, Chen will spend a year working as a research scientist in Google Research. 

Chen, a leader in the field of natural language processing (NLP), received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, advised by William Yang Wang and Xifeng Yan. He previously interned at multiple companies including Google Research, Microsoft AI & Research, Samsung Research America, eBay Research. He was recognized as the top reviewer in NeurIPS 2019 and received the Workshop on Applications for Computer Vision (WACV) best-student paper honorable mention in 2021.

His research interests include NLP, deep learning, and knowledge representation. “I think the most interesting part about AI/ML is the way it can simulate how our human brains are working,” says Chen. “We can build models with AI/ML technology that can learn, reason, decide, and generalize like our human brains to handle very complex inputs.” 

Still, he believes that existing technology lags behind human brains, especially in areas like robustness, explainability, and generalization. “I would like to explore more in this direction to help improve the current AI/ML techniques, especially in NLP.” He hopes to build a more powerful virtual assistant that can understand human language and communicate with humans to accomplish various tasks. 

Chen is a highly prolific and impactful researcher who has already made significant advances in neuro-symbolic reasoning for explainability, multi-hop and single hop reasoning for inference from heterogeneous data, and externalizing factual knowledge in language modelling. 

Chen points to access to students, funding, and computer resources at Vector, and the strong computer science department with prestigious faculty at the University of Waterloo as key factors in his choice. “These advantages combined pushed me to make a very firm decision to come to Vector and the University of Waterloo.” 

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