For Prospective Students

Basic Information
  • Since May 2024, Dr. Wang has been on leave from UT Austin to serve as the full-time Research Director for XTX Markets. You can read more [here]
  • During Dr. Wang's leave, the VITA group will only recruit new members on an exceptional basis - that said, we encourage you to make a case for why you should be considered an exception :)
  • We always have openings for truly outstanding PhD students, starting at every year's spring and fall semesters (so no need to inquiry "whether you have PhD openings" by email). Our group is well funded, and research assistantships will be provided to PhD students by default.
  • The primary avenue for us to recruit PhD stduents is through UT ECE (DICE Track). Dr. Wang is also eligible to advise and regularly recruits students from UT CS (Member of Graduate Studies Committee), and Oden Institute CSEM (Affiliated Faculty).
  • Interested candidates for PhD opportunities are strongly encouraged to contact Dr. Wang by email before sending in applications. Please attach your CV, and clearly discuss your research interest and experiences. We are usually not very interested in your GPA and standard test scores.
  • Postdocs, and self-funded visitors are welcome to apply, and will be evaluated case by case. We are always open to working with UT undergraduates and master students for projects. Please contact Dr. Wang by email and specify your interest (we prefer if you can share more than pure "interest").
What we expect from good candidates?
  • Nothing is more important than a true enthusiasm and devotion to research. We do research only because we are really obsessed with and enjoy our research. Our research interests constantly evolve, and we always stay open to be intellectually excited and inspired by new things.
  • Two other important things that we look for: (1) a truly deep understanding of your problem of interest - don’t naively plug and play "hot" tools; (2) a solid background and a true passion for mathematics. Our research heavily leverages matrix analysis, optimization, and statistical learning.
What we provide to our students?
  • We have a very flat management structure with minimal communication overhead (“Talk is cheap. Show me the code/math”). Every student works directly and closely with Dr. Wang. The group also benefits a lot from its highly interactive, intimate, and helpful culture.
  • We provide extraordinarily strong support to students for internship, visiting, collaboration, networking, and scholarship opportunities. VITA Ph.D. students have in total won seven prestigious fellowships (NSF GRFP, IBM, Apple, Adobe, Amazon, Qualcomm, and Snap), among many other honors. You are welcome to check their rich experiences.
  • Our students are highly popular among top employers, for both internship and full-time opportunities. During Ph.D. time, almost everyone spends considerable time researching with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe, NVIDIA, and our many other industry partners, for every year.

About UT Austin

A Public Ivy (referred to a public university that can provide an Ivy League collegiate experience), UT Austin is one of the most prestigious universities in the US, and the flagship in the state of Texas. The university is a world-leading research institution in the engineering, computer science, and physical science fields. As of August 2021, 13 Nobel Prize winners, 4 Pulitzer Prize winners, 3 Turing Award winners, 2 Fields medalists, 2 Wolf Prize winners, and 3 Abel prize winners have been affiliated with the school as alumni, faculty members or researchers. The university has also been affiliated with 3 Primetime Emmy Award winners, and has produced a total of 155 Olympic medalists.

Internationally, UT Austin was ranked 34th in the 2020 "Best Global Universities" ranking by U.S. News & World Report, 45th in the world by Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2019, 39th worldwide by Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2019, and 31st by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) in 2019. The Cockrell School of Engineering is consistently a top-10-ranked engineering school in the US.

AI/ML in UT Austin

UT Austin is among the world’s topmost universities for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) research. The U.S. News and World Report 2021 ranked UT Austin as No. 5 in the nation’s best AI programs. Recently, the National Science Foundation has selected UT Austin to lead the NSF AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning (IFML), bolstering the university’s existing strengths in this emerging field. UT Austin is poised to develop entirely new classes of algorithms that will lead to more sophisticated and beneficial AI technologies. Professor Wang is a member of the IFML team.

UT Austin has also established a campus-wide Machine Learning Laboratory, that will focus its initial research agenda on core algorithmic advances and a select set of applications that reflect the strengths and capabilities of UT Austin. The UT Machine Learning Laboratory brings together a community that includes linguists, ethicists, mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists with plans to grow as machine learning takes on increasing importance across disciplines. Professor Wang is a core faculty member of the UT Machine Learning Laboratory.

In 2024 (a year which UT designates as "Year of AI"), the Machine Learning Laboratory has launched the brand-new Center for Generative AI. This new center includes a cluster of 600 NVIDIA H100 GPUs, making it one of the largest GPU clusters in academia. Professor Wang is a founding member of the center and leads its Vision research area.

UT Austin is home to the world-renowned Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, an interdisciplinary center created to foster the development in computational sciences and mathematical modeling. The Oden Institute houses the Ph.D/M.S program in Computational Science, Engineering & Mathematics (CSEM): ranked #1 in the world by CWUR in the discipline “Mathematics: Interdisciplinary Applications”. Professor Wang is an affiliated faculty member of the Oden Institute, and can solely advise CSEM graduate students. He is also a founding member of its Center for Autonomy.

Besides, several exciting research initiatives currently being launched in UT Austin are relevant to the broader future of AI/ML, with which Professor Wang is also affiliated and involved. Examples include Texas Robotics, iMAGiNE consortium, UT Good Systems, and UT 6G.

About Texas ECE and CS

The Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT Austin (Texas ECE) has been ranked in the US top-10 over decades. It is the largest department in the Cockrell School of Engineering with more than 2,200 students and 80 tenure/tenure-track faculty, and is housed by the fabulous EER Building. Based on U.S. News and World Report 2020, UT’s graduate programs in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering are ranked no. 9 and no. 6 in the U.S. respectively. Current ECE faculty members include 1 Nobel Prize Winner, 1 Emmy Award winner, 4 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Members, 9 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Members, 6 ACM Fellows, 33 IEEE Fellows, 6 OSA Fellows, 4 SPIE Fellows, and 6 APS Fellows. Professor Wang is part of the Decision, Information, and Communications Engineering (DICE) Track.

The Department of Computer Science owns one of the top-10 graduate programs for CS in the country, and has prominent presence in the AI/ML research [CSRankings]. We are consistently highly regarded for our AI programs - again top 10 in U.S. News and World Report’s undergraduate and graduate rankings. Most work is supported by UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, which is home to three of the top 10 fastest university supercomputers. Professor Wang is a UT CS affiliated faculty, a Member of the CS Graduate Studies Committee (GSC), and can solely advise CS graduate students.

The City of Austin

Austin is the state capital of Texas, an inland city bordering the Hill Country region. Many people, including VITA members, consider Austin "the No. 1 Best Place to Live in the US". According to US News, the city of Austin has been voted the No. 1 place to live in America for three years in a row — based on affordability, job prospects and quality of life. Lately in 2021, Netflix endorses Austin as THE place in the 21st century, for young people with dreams; its 2021 TV shows in Austin are fun to watch: [Twentysomethings: Austin]

Austin is ranked No.1 fastest growing large city in the US, and No. 4 of the best large cities for startups. Recently called by Elon Musk "the biggest boomtown that America has seen in 50 years'", Austin has many other famous nicknames, including "Silicon Hills": a place that might potentially succeed Silicon Valley's leading role in the high-tech world. Many high-tech companies are headquartered at Austin nowadays, including three Fortune 500 companies (Tesla, Dell, and Oracle). It is also home to major regional offices of Apple, Facebook, IBM, Google, Amazon, AMD, Visa and more.

Austin is internationally known for its eclectic live-music scene centered around country, blues and rock. Its numerous parks and lakes are incredibly popular for hiking, biking, swimming and boating. Last but foremost, it is one of the greatest US cities for foodies and drinkers. Unsurprisingly, Austin also tops the list of best cities for young people dating ("scores high in everything") [BestPlaces]. You can check out more why living and studying in Austin is joyful, cool and promising: [Wall Street Journal] [New York Times] [Forbes] [Austin Local] [YouTube Channel].