Thomas Wins 2021 College of Information and Computer Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award

Philip Thomas, an assistant professor on the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS), has been chosen to obtain the school’s 2021 Outstanding Teacher Award. The award is granted yearly to a school member who demonstrates excellence and creativity in educating, a constructive impression on their college students, and a mastery of their topic.

In recommending Thomas for the honour, one scholar commented, “I think Professor Thomas’s teaching is amazing … Although the material that he covers is challenging, his delivery and clarity make the toughest of all topics seem not too hard.” Thomas was additionally praised for bringing his analysis and open issues within the discipline to the classroom, sparking curiosity, and galvanizing his college students to sort out tough challenges. Since 2015, he has taught programs on matters together with machine studying and reinforcement studying. His course, COMPSCI 390A: Introduction to Machine Learning, emphasizes technical functions alongside real-world issues like ethics, security, and equity.

Outside of the classroom, Thomas’s analysis on security in synthetic intelligence algorithms has gained nationwide consideration. His paper, “Preventing undesirable behavior of intelligent machines,” co-written by Professor Emeritus Andy Barto, Associate Professor Yuriy Brun, Assistant Professor Bruno Castro da Silva, doctoral scholar Stephen Giguere, and Emma Brunskill of Stanford University, was revealed by Science journal in 2019 and have become one of many high 0.1% of all publications tracked by Almetric in 2020. In February of 2020, Thomas testified earlier than the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Task Force on Artificial Intelligence in a listening to on methods to cut back the results of AI bias in monetary companies.

Thomas serves as co-director of the CICS Autonomous Learning Laboratory and works as a school researcher within the CICS Center for Data Science, investigating reinforcement studying, resolution making, and AI security. He earned his doctorate in pc science from UMass Amherst in 2015.

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