I look at public policy through the lens of computer science, bringing a computational perspective to a diverse range of contemporary social issues. My recent work has examined policing practices, including the development of new statistical tests for discrimination; fair machine learning, including guidance for designing equitable algorithms; higher education, including admissions policies and undermatching; and democratic governance, including swing voting, polling errors, voter fraud, and political polarization.
I am the founding director of the Computational Policy Lab. The lab is comprised of researchers, data scientists, and journalists who work to address policy problems through technical innovation. For example, we deployed a “blind charging” platform across California to mitigate racial bias in prosecutorial decisions. We also built a platform to reduce pretrial incarceration through behavioral nudges. And we collected, released, and analyzed data on over 100 million traffic stops as part of our Open Policing Project.
I often write essays and engage in public discussions on policy issues from a statistical perspective. These include examinations of algorithms in the courts (in the New York Times and the Boston Globe); algorithmic fairness (in the Washington Post and on the Moral Science Podcast); policing (in the Washington Post, Slate, and the Huffington Post); mass incarceration (in the Washington Post); election polls (in the New York Times); claims of voter fraud (in Slate and on This American Life); and college admissions (in the Boston Globe, Boston Review, and the Washington Post).
I hold an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago, as well as a doctorate in applied math and a master’s in computer science from Cornell University. After finishing graduate school, I completed postdoctoral fellowships in the math departments at Stanford and the University of Southern California, and then worked as a research scientist at Yahoo and Microsoft before returning to academia. Before joining Harvard, I was on the faculty at Stanford University, with appointments in management science & engineering, computer science, sociology, and the law school.
My office is in the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at 124 Mt. Auburn St. — Room 2310. (To get there, take the south — not north! — elevators to the second floor, and then walk to your left as you exit the elevator, making a semicircle to the entrance of the Shorenstein Center.) If you would like to chat, please send me an email!