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Yasaman Bahri

Research Scientist
Google Research, Brain Team


I am a scientist interested in foundational scientific questions in deep learning, as well as machine learning more broadly. My work sits a multidisciplinary interface and tends to blend ideas and perspectives from theoretical physics (many-body theory, statistical mechanics, information theory), computer science, and statistics. A common theme is to better understand mechanisms behind how things work and provide scientific explanations that are predictive and hold up to experimental tests. I am also interested in the use of machine learning in the physical sciences, in particular condensed matter & materials science.

A sample of topics from some of my recent work in machine learning include:

  • Theoretical and empirical understanding of the role of scale in deep learning (‘‘scaling laws")

  • Exact connections between neural networks, Gaussian processes, and kernel methods

  • Phase transitions and the dynamics of gradient descent in supervised deep learning

  • Connections between information propagation in deep networks and trainability

  • Distribution shift

I was trained as a theoretical quantum condensed matter physicist, and I received my Ph.D. in Physics from UC Berkeley in 2017. My graduate work is specifically in the field of quantum many-body theory and strongly correlated systems. I was fortunate to have Professor Ashvin Vishwanath as my thesis advisor. My scientific interests have always been broad, and I worked on several different areas as part of my doctoral research, including topological phases, many-body localization, and non-Fermi liquids. My dissertation proposed new classes of quantum behavior; new routes towards realizing exotic quantum phases; and new classes of mechanical behavior through topological mechanisms. I got started in theory as an undergraduate through research on tensor networks and entanglement in quantum systems with Professor Joel Moore at UC Berkeley, which was also the subject of my honors senior thesis.

Link to Google Scholar

Recent News

  • Gave a guest lecture in CS 159 at Caltech on theoretical aspects of deep learning.