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I am a professor of Computer Science at Harvard University, and a member of the Harvard SEAS Theory of Computing group. Previously, I was a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England, and before that I was an associate professor (with tenure) at Princeton University’s Computer Science department. I hold a Ph.D from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
I am a theoretical computer scientist, interested in computational complexity, algorithms, cryptography, quantum computing and particularly the foundations of machine learning.
DUS: I am co director of undergraduate studies (DUS) of Computer Science at Harvard together with Prof. Stephen Chong. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for any DUS related matters. For information about the Computer Science concentration at Harvard see the page csadvising.seas.harvard.edu. See also my contact information and office hours.
Current activities: Member of the editorial board of the Theory of Computing Journal (ToC) and the Electronic Colloquium of Computational Complexity. I am a member of the scientific board of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing. I am a co organizer of the Harvard Machine Learning Foundations seminar and a steering committee member and associate faculty of the Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence. Board member and co organizer of Addis Coder as well as Jam Coders. I am also a member of the advisory board of the wonderful Quanta magazine. See my CV for past activities.
Former students: Sharon Goldberg (co advised with Jennifer Rexford), David Xiao (co advised with Avi Wigderson), Mohammad Mahmoody, Moritz Hardt, Zhixian Lei, Preetum Nakkiran (co-advised with Madhu Sudan), Yamini Bansal (co-advised with David Cox), Chi-Ning Chou, Prayaag Venkat, Gal Kaplun.
Funding: I am currently supported by a Simons Investigator Fellowship, NSF grant DMS-2134157, DARPA grant W911NF2010021,and DOE grant DE-SC0022199. I am also grateful for support from Oracle Labs and past support by the NSF, as well as the Packard and Sloan foundations and the BSF.
Want to work with me? I am interested in machine learning foundations and theoretical CS. In particular see the opportunities sections of the ML foundations and the Kempner Institute websites. You can see this page for how to apply for graduate studies in computer science; we also have a new Quantum Science and Engineering program. Please do not email me with your resume - if you are interested in working with me, you can indicate this on your application and it will get to me. We also have some postdoc positions in both the foundations of Machine Learning and theoretical CS. I typically announce any such positions on my blog or Twitter, and post TCS positions on the TCS jobs page. ...
Personal: I am married to Ravit Barak and father to Alma and Goren.
Starting January 2024 I will be on a one-year leave from Harvard at OpenAI
See the Harvard ML foundations group website for our seminar and other activities in the foundations of machine learning. In particular the opportunities section there contains information about positions for undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty.
I wrote a graduate textbook with Sanjeev Arora: Computational Complexity: A Modern Approach. I am currently writing an undergraduate textbook: Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science. I also wrote extensive notes on an intense introduction to cryptography and on the sum of squares algorithm (with David Steurer). I occasionally blog on the Windows on Theory blog and Tweet.
Some surveys and essays I wrote are below. See here for more of my less technical writing.
The uneasy relationship between deep learning and statistics - blog post. See also my deep learning foundations seminar.
Thoughts on AI safety - blog post.
Work with what you’ve got, Nature Physics, January 21. (About experiments running the QAOA algorithm on near-term intermediate-scale noisy quantum devices (NISQ).
The different forms of quantum computing skepticsm - blog post. See also pdf version
The Complexity of Public-Key Cryptography - survey/tutorial on the computational assumptions landscape of cryptogrpahy. Written in honor of Oded Goldreich’s 60th birthday.
Bayesianism, frequentism, and the planted clique, or do algorithms believe in unicorns?, April 2016. See also blog post on windows of theory blog and video of a talk at Northwestern.
Men in Computer Science - blog post, August 2017.
Structure vs Combinatorics in Computational Complexity, Windows on Theory blog, October 2013. See also adapted version in the bulletin of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science.
Truth vs. Proof - the Unique Games Conjecture and Feige’s Hypothesis, Windows on Theory blog, July 2012. See also adapted version in logic in computer science column of the bulletin of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science.
Here are some of the courses / lectures I (Co) taught (see here for all courses):
Harvard CS229br: Foundations of Deep Learning, Spring 2021, Spring 2023
Harvard CS121: Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science - Fall 2019, Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2022.
Harvard CS127: Cryptography, Fall 2021, Spring 2020, Spring 2018, Spring 2016.
Harvard CS229r: Physics and Computation Seminar, Fall 2018.
Harvard CS229r / MIT 6.S898: Proofs, beliefs and algorithms through the lens of Sum of Squares - Fall 2016 - graduate course/seminar on the Sum of Squares algorithm.
Princeton COS 522 - (graduate) Computational Complexity - Spring 2009
|Email: . For Harvard related mails (apart from DUS), please use Any emails related to my role as DUS should be sent to email@example.com.|
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Upcoming office hours: (see all hours and schedule appointments)
|Physical Location: Office 3.309 in Harvard Allston SEC complex, 150 Western Avenue, Boston, MA.|
|Mailing Address: Professor Boaz Barak, Harvard University SEAS, SEC Building Office 3.309, 150 Western Avenue, Boston, MA 02134|
|Administrative assistant: Emma Hammack, , firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Phone: (617) 496-1004 (I prefer email)|