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Sean (Xiang) Ren

Andrew and Erna Viterbi Early Career Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science


  • 2017, Doctoral Degree, Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2015, Master's Degree, Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Xiang Ren an Associate Professor in Computer Science and the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Early Career Chair at USC, where he's the PI of the Intelligence and Knowledge Discovery (INK) Research Lab. Xiang also hold appointment as a Research Team Leader in Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and serve as a member of the USC NLP Group, USC Machine Learning Center and ISI Center on Knowledge Graphs. Outside of his USC work, Xiang spends time at Allen Institute for AI (AI2) working on machine common sense. Previously he was a Data Science Advisor at Snapchat. Prior to USC, Xiang did his PhD work in computer science at UIUC. He's also spent time with the NLP group and the SNAP group at the Stanford University.

Research Summary

Xiang's research seeks to build generalizable natural language processing (NLP) systems that can handle a wide variety of language tasks and situations, to broaden the scope of model generality. I work on new algorithms and datasets to make NLP models cheaper to build and maintain, arm AI models with common sense, and improve model's transparency and reliability to build user trust. My group (INK Lab) recently focuses on: (1) creating evaluation methods and datasets that expose the state-of-the-art NLP systems in various human reasoning scenarios; (2) building novel learning algorithms and model architectures to augment NLP systems with commonsense and factual knowledge; (3) developing graph neural network methods for relational reasoning; and (4) verifying and enhancing the robustness of NLP models. We're also interested in extract machine-actionable knowledge from natural language data, perform neural-symbolic knowledge reasoning for intelligent applications, and learning (to adapt and improve) from human explanations and instructions. Please check out the our group website for more information.


  • 2023 Association for Computational Linguistics ACL 2023 Outstanding Paper Award
  • 2023 Okawa Research Foundation 2023 Okawa Research Grant
  • 2022 NAACL Outstanding Paper Award
  • 2022 Google Research Scholar Award
  • 2022 Andrew and Erna Viterbi Early Career Chair
  • 2021 NSF CAREER Award
  • 2020 Sony Faculty Innovation Award
  • 2020 The Web Conference (WWW) Best Paper Award runner-up
  • 2019 Amazon Faculty Research Award
  • 2019 JP Morgan AI Research Award
  • 2019 Google Faculty Research Award
  • 2019 Adobe Data Science Research Award
  • 2019 Forbes' Asia 30 Under 30
  • 2018 SIGKDD Doctoral Dissertation Award
  • 2017 Google PhD Fellowship
  • Research Admin, Principal Scientist of the USC Information Sciences Institute
  • Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science
  • RTH 305
  • Ronald Tutor Hall of Engineering
  • 3710 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 90089
Contact Information
  • (213) 821-4067
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