My work email address is email@example.com.
But please read the FAQ below before cold emailing me, as your question may already be answered below.
Q: You have an appointment in MSCS, but what is MSCS?
Are you in a “combined” math and cs department?
A: MSCS stands for “Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science,” but it’s basically a broad a math department that also includes some faculty in statistics and mathematical aspects of computer science, and we often just refer to it as “math.” It’s also not really a combined department because there’s a full-fledged Computer Science (CS) department in our engineering school, where I also have a courtesy appointment.
Q: Your site says that you are also in the mathematical computer science (MCS) group. What is MCS?
A: MCS stands for “Mathematical Computer Science.” It is a group within the math department. MCS faculty work in theoretical computer science, combinatorics, and related topics. Related to this, the department offers a “Mathematics and Computer Science” B.S. and a Mathematics M.S. with a Mathematical Computer Science concentration. MCS is also a “track” in MSCS’s Ph.D. program, though the Ph.D. degree itself is in Mathematics. It’s much more confusing than it needs to be.
Q: I am a graduate student. Do you have any TAships for me?
A: In math, individual professors generally don’t hire their own TAs – the MSCS graduate office is in charge of hiring our graduate TAs. The department generally only hires its own graduate students, but there have been exceptions. If you’re interested in TAing our classes, you’ll have to check with them.
I am interested working with you as a postdoc. Will you consider my application to join your group?
A: Unless I have an announcement on my site that I am looking for postdocs, or you heard some other way that I am hiring, then no. The MSCS department, however, does occasionally hire postdoctoral RAPs (Research Assistant Professors), and most of the department’s postdocs come via this route – if you’re interested, I encourage you to apply. In cases of strong graduating students significantly overlapping with me in research interests, applying to the MSPRF is a possibility.
Q: I want to be your graduate student. Can I come work with you?
A: If you are not already a student at UIC, you have to apply first. Our department accepts all students through an official application process, and applications are evaluated by a committee. If you are a student in MSCS (or possibly CS), then come talk to me, but I’ll generally expect you to do well in a few 500-level MCS classes before I agree to take you as a student.
Q: I want to come to UIC for graduate school to study
theoretical computer science (TCS).
Should I apply to MSCS, CS, or ECE?
A: We have a lively TCS presence at UIC. Though it’s sometimes possible to work with theory faculty from a department other than the one you enroll in, if you have an advisor in mind, I suggest applying to the department where that person has a primary appointment. So, if you want to work with me, you should apply to the MSCS department. If you are not sure whom you want to work with, among other factors, you might consider whether you want a Ph.D. in mathematics or in another field in making a decision where to apply.
Q: I want to come to UIC to be your graduate student.
Can you evaluate my chances of being admitted to
your Ph.D. (or Master’s) program?
A: Unfortunately, no – without having access to your entire application packet (including the confidential letters), I really don’t know what your chances are; they also depend on how many slots we have and who else is applying. Also, I get too many such requests to reply to all of them.
Q: I am an undergraduate. Can I do research with you?
A: If you’re not a UIC undergraduate, then probably not. If you are at UIC, then I’ll generally expect you to have taken and done well in MCS 401 and/or MCS 441 (or equivalent) before mentoring your research. Also, I generally can’t fund undergraduates, though if we find a project, there may be funding you can apply for through the university.
Q: I am a graduate student at another university. Can I
come work with you for a summer (or semester)?
A: I normally don’t fund visiting students, but if you work on topics that I’m interested in and have another source of funding, feel free to email me.
Q: I am a local high school student. Can I come and do research with you to gain research
expereicne? I don’t need funding, and I’d be happy to help you any way.
A: The research that I work on is theoretical, which means you usually need to know a lot more than programming and calculus to start working with me – this is beyond the experience of most high school students. I would consider working with a high school student who has exceptional preparation (at least linear algebra, discrete math, and algorithms), but I would unfortunately have to turn down most students, even those who are very bright and well-prepared.
Q: How is your last name pronounced?
A: Though my last name likely stems from a thorny flower, it is pronounced like a dried grape.