Jenn Wortman Vaughan


I am a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, New York City, a relatively new collaborative and interdisciplinary basic research lab.

The goal of my research is to develop mathematically rigorous, empirically grounded frameworks to understand and design algorithms for eliciting and aggregating information, preferences, and beliefs. I am interested in developing general methods that allow us to reason formally about the performance of algorithms with human components in the same way that traditional computer science techniques allow us to formally reason about algorithms that run on machines alone. My research draws on ideas from economics, machine learning, probability theory, optimization, and beyond. For several years, my research has centered mostly on elicitation and aggregation using prediction markets, wagering mechanisms, and other crowdsourcing approaches.

For a more complete picture of what I do, take a look at some of my publications.

At MSR I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing set of summer interns including Chien-Ju Ho (who was also my PhD student at UCLA!), Alice Gao, Hoda Heidari, Ming Yin, Rachel Cummings, Ryan Rogers, Nika Haghtalab, and Rupert Freeman. In the summer of 2017 I'm excited to welcome Rediet Abebe, Manish Raghavan, and Forough Poursabzi-Sangdeh, and welcome back Rupert Freeman. We start looking at internship applications for the summer in late fall. (List me as a contact to make sure I see your application.) Typically our interns are Ph.D. students with strong publication records in areas relevant to our lab.

My standard bio (for talk announcements, etc.) is here.

If you are looking for material from my crowdsourcing tutorials, here are the website, survey article, and video from NIPS.

What's New?

I am super excited to be giving an invited talk at the NIPS 2017 Symposium on Interpretable Machine Learning.

I am co-organizing the NIPS 2017 Workshop on Learning in the Presence of Strategic Behavior. Submissions are due October 23, but we encourage anyone interesting in attending to register now because NIPS is selling out fast!.

I am the track co-chair for the WWW 2018 Web Economics track. Submissions are due October 31 (abstracts by October 26).

I am excited to be giving the opening keynote at Broadening Participation in Data Mining 2017 at KDD.

I will be giving an invited talk about wagering mechanisms at the EC 2017 Workshop on Forecasting.

I will be giving new variants of my NIPS tutorial on Making Better Use of the Crowd at ACL 2017 and KDD 2017. The survey paper/position paper/best practice guide I wrote to accompany the NIPS tutorial is available here and video is available here.

I am serving as Tutorials Co-Chair of NIPS 2017.

Here are slides from the opening talk I gave at the HCOMP workshop on Mathematical Foundations of Human Computation.

Hanna Wallach and I wrote a general-audience essay on The Inescapability of Uncertainty: AI, Uncertainty, and Why You Should Vote No Matter What Predictions Say.

I will be giving an invited talk at the NIPS 2016 Workshop on Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning.

I am serving a two-year term as Workshops Co-Chair of EC 2017 and EC 2018.

I will be speaking at the upcoming Technology Policy Institute event on Artificial Intelligence: The Economic and Policy Implications.

I will be giving an invited tutorial at NIPS 2016 on Crowdsourcing: Beyond Label Generation. Check back here for more information closer to December.

I'm co-organizing a workshop at HCOMP on Mathematical Foundations of Human Computation.

This spring/summer I am serving on the Senior Program Committees of EC and HCOMP, as an Area Chair of NIPS, and on the (new) NIPS workshop and symposium selection committee.

We've released a white paper on Mathematical Foundations of Social Computing drawing on discussions from our CCC visioning workshop last June.

I was interviewed on Talking Machines, a general audience podcast on machine learning. Listen to me talk about the history of WiML, my career path, my favorite papers, and my research vision. (My segment runs from around 28:25 to the end.)

More activities...


I came to MSR-NYC from UCLA where I was an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department. Prior to that I spent a year as a Computing Innovation Fellow at Harvard University where I was a member of the EconCS group and the Theory group, and an affiliate of the Center for Research on Computation and Society.

I received my Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. I was extremely lucky to be advised by Michael Kearns. My doctoral dissertation, Learning from Collective Preferences, Behavior, and Beliefs, introduced a series of new learning models and algorithms designed to address the problems commonly faced when aggregating local information across large population, and was awarded Penn's Rubinoff award for innovative applications of computer technology. During my time at Penn, I spent two fun summers interning in New York, first with the Machine Learning and Microeconomics groups at Yahoo! Research and then in the research group at Google.

Before coming to Penn, I completed a Masters in Computer Science at Stanford where I got my first taste of research working with the Multiagent Group. Further back in the day, I was a carefree undergrad at BU.

You might remember me as Jenn Wortman. When I got married, I took Vaughan (pronounced "von") as my "official" last name and moved Wortman to my middle name. This never fails to confuse people. I use both names together professionally and prefer that you do too.

Get In Touch

The best way to reach me is by email. I am jenn at