Ziyu Yao's Personal Website


Nguyen Engineering Building, 4415

4400 University Drive

Fairfax, VA, 22030

Hello! I am an Assistant Professor of the Department of Computer Science at George Mason University, where I co-lead the George Mason NLP group. I am also affiliated with C4I & Cyber Center, Center for Advancing Human-Machine Partnership, and Institute for Digital InnovAtion at GMU. I received my PhD degree from Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Ohio State University (OSU) in 2021. I have spent time interning at Microsoft Semantic Machines, Carnegie Mellon University, Microsoft Research, Fujitsu Lab of America, and Tsinghua University. I work in natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI), particularly building natural language interfaces (e.g., question answering and dialogue systems) that can reliably assist humans in knowledge acquisition and task completion. My interested topics include:

Check out my group here! For prospective students, please read this page before contacting me. Contact me at ziyuyao [AT] gmu [DOT] edu and follow me on Twitter!


05/2024 :loudspeaker: Great pleasure to speak about semantic parsing at the CTO Data Science Speaker Series at Bloomberg NYC!
05/2024 :tada: Congrats to Daking and Saurabh for their long papers accepted to ACL 2024 (Main and Findings)! Daking’s work applies Mechanistic Interpretability to explain CoT in arithmetic reasoning. Saurabh’s work is about zero-shot prompt optimization. Stay tuned for papers and code!
04/2024 :tada: CONGRATS to Murong for being awarded an Outstanding PhD Student by GMU CS, and Hao for receiving the Summer 2024 GRA Fellowship from CAHMP!
04/2024 :fire: Check out our project on “LLM Agents for Mathematics Education” as a teamwork with experts from NLP, HCI, and Mathematics Education! The project was funded by Microsoft Research, Accelerating Foundation Models Research program.
04/2024 :loudspeaker: I was invited to talk about “Building Natural Language Interfaces in the Age of LLMs” at Indiana University, Indianapolis! Slides are available here.
03/2024 :loudspeaker: I was invited to talk about “Towards Enhancing the Utilization of Large Language Models for Humans” at University of Arizona and Virginia Tech NVC! Slides are available here.
03/2024 :loudspeaker: Invited to give a guest lecture about LLMs at Department of Health Administration and Policy and School of Education at GMU!
01/2024 :fire: Our paper on LLM Cascade for Cost Saving in Reasoning (Featured in Hugging Face Daily Papers) is now accepted to ICLR’24! Congrats to Murong and collaborators from Microsoft Research and VT!
12/2023 :gem: Received a grant from Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) on the topic of LLM supply chain security, with Dr. Xiaokuan Zhang. Thank you, CCI!
11/2023 :tada: I was selected as a Top Reviewer at NeurIPS’23, thanks for the discussions with my students!
10/2023 :fire: Check out our three new preprints on Cost-saving LLMs in reasoning (Featured in Hugging Face Daily Papers), Prompt optimization for zero-shot LLMs, and Benchmarking LLMs in spatial-temporal reasoning!
10/2023 :tada: Congrats to Saurabh and Murong for papers accepted to EMNLP’23 main conference (MailEx, a new conversational event extraction benchmark) and the demo track (Gentopia, our open-source platform streamlining the creation and sharing of augmented LLMs)! Many thanks to our collaborators. See U in Singapore!
09/2023 :gem: Received Azure credits from Microsoft Research, Accelerating Foundation Models Research program for our project on LLM4Edu (in collaboration w/ Dr. Anthony E. Kelly at GMU Educational Psychology)! Thank you, Microsoft!
08/2023 :gem: Received a grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) on the topic of interpretability and explainability of large language models for code! Many thanks to NSF and my collaborators Dr. Kevin Moran (GMU -> UCF) and Dr. Denys Poshyvanyk (W&M)!
08/2023 :loudspeaker: I gave in-person talks titled “Building Natural Language Interfaces in the Age of LLMs” at Google and Apple! (Good summer time in the Bay Area :relaxed:)
07/2023 :raised_hands: I was invited to serve as Diversity & Inclusion Chair at NAACL 2024!
06/2023 Congrats to Hao and Daking for receiving the Graduate Student Travel Fund from GMU!
06/2023 I was invited to serve as Senior PC member at AAAI’24!
05/2023 Two papers accepted to ACL’23 (main conference)! Congrats to Hao, Saurabh, and Daking!
04/2023 George Mason organized MASC-SLL 2023, an annual NLP event in the Mid-Atlantic area!
03/2023 I was invited to serve as reviewer at NeurIPS’23!
02/2023 I will be attending AAAI’23 in D.C. and serving as Session Chair!
01/2023 I was invited to serve as Area Chair at ACL’23 (Question Answering).
12/2022 Received a grant from Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) on the topic of algorithm explanation and human trust. Thanks to CCI and my collaborator Dr. Tyler Shaw from GMU Psychology!
11/2022 Congrats to my student Daking Rai for a student abstract accepted to AAAI! Thanks to my collaborators!
11/2022 Work about GPT-3 for psychological test item generation got accepted to Journal of Business and Psychology. Thanks to my collaborators!
10/2022 One paper accepted to EMNLP 2022!
10/2022 I will be giving a talk in the Department of Statistics at GMU!
09/2022 I will be giving a (virtual) talk at ServiceNow Research!
08/2022 I will be attending KDD’22 in person! I will serve as a mentor in the KDD Undergraduate Consortium.
07/2022 I will be attending NAACL’22 in person! Please join our SUKI workshop in July 14!
07/2022 I was invited to serve as Senior PC member at AAAI’23.
06/2022 I was invited to serve as Area Chair at EMNLP’22 (Efficient NLP Track).
04/2022 Gave a talk in the JHU CLSP seminar!
02/2022 Consider submitting to the SUKI workshop at NAACL2022!
12/2021 Our paper “CliniQG4QA” won the Best Paper Award at IEEE BIBM 2021!
11/2021 Our (w/ Penn State, UW, UCSB, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Google Research) workshop proposal “SUKI: Workshop on Structured and Unstructured Knowledge Integration” was accpted to be co-located with NAACL 2022! Stay tuned!
11/2021 Invited to serve as ACM SIGAI Newsletter co-editor.
08/2021 Started my journey at George Mason University! Check out our George Mason NLP group website (co-lead with Prof. Antonios Anastasopoulos)!
05/2021 I will be interning in Microsoft Semantic Machines in this summer (virtually)!
04/2021 I am awarded the Graduate Student Research Award by OSU, CSE department!
01/2021 One paper accepted to ICLR’21! Thanks to my collaborators at CMU!
11/2020 Super honored to receive the Presidential Fellowship from OSU Graduate School! (“The Presidential Fellowship is the most prestigious award given by the Graduate School. Recipients of this award embody the highest standards of scholarship in the full range of Ohio State’s graduate programs.”)
11/2020 Our workshop proposal on Natural Language Processing for Programming has been accepted to be co-located with ACL 2021! Congrats to collaborators from Bar-Ilan University, UT Austin, CMU, and OSU! Please stay tuned!
10/2020 Honored to be selected to the Rising Stars in EECS workshop (hosted by UC Berkeley this year)!
09/2020 Invited poster at Microsoft Research AI Breakthroughs Workshop (virtually).
08/2020 Invited talk at VMware, Beijing (virtually).
05/2020 Excited to start summer internship at CMU Language Technologies Institute with Prof. Graham Neubig!
08/2019 Our work on a principled Interactive Semantic Parsing framework is accepted to EMNLP! See you in Hong Kong!
07/2019 Talk at ETH Zurich: “Towards Building Interactive and Collaborative Natural Language Interfaces”.
07/2019 Attended ACL’19 in Florence.
05/2019 One paper accepted to ACL’19 (my first ACL paper ever). Congrats to my collaborator Boyuan!
01/2019 Our work exploring machine collaborations between Code Annotation and Code Retrieval is accepted by WWW’19!
10/2018 We built an Interactive Semantic Parser: talk to your parser to resolve NL ambiguities (accepted by AAAI’19)!
08/2018 To know more about StaQC? Check out our work “A Comprehensive Study of StaQC for Deep Code Summarization” (accepted by SIGKDD’18 Deep Learning Day)!
05/2018 Feeling thrilled to start internship at Microsoft Research @ Redmond this summer!!
04/2018 Attended WWW 2018 conference @ Lyon, France and present our work “StaQC: A Systematically Mined Question-Code Dataset from Stack Overflow”. Check out the slides and quick StaQC examples!
04/2018 Attended CRA Grad Cohort Workshop for Women (CRA-W) @ San Francisco.
09/2017 Gave a talk about “Mining Code Answers to Natural Language Questions” at OSU CSE AI seminar.

selected publications


  1. Preprint
    IntelliExplain: Enhancing Interactive Code Generation through Natural Language Explanations for Non-Professional Programmers
    Hao Yan*, Thomas D. Latoza, and Ziyu Yao
    arXiv Preprint, 2024
  2. Preprint
    MathVC: An LLM-Simulated Multi-Character Virtual Classroom for Mathematics Education
    Murong Yue*, Wijdane Mifdal*, Yixuan Zhang, and 2 more authors
    arXiv Preprint, 2024
  3. Preprint
    Lens: A Foundation Model for Network Traffic
    Qineng Wang, Chen Qian, Xiaochang Li, and 2 more authors
    arXiv Preprint, 2024
  4. ACL’24
    An Investigation of Neuron Activation as a Unified Lens to Explain Chain-of-Thought Eliciting Arithmetic Reasoning of LLMs
    Daking Rai*, and Ziyu Yao
    ACL, 2024
  5. ACL’24
    Instances Need More Care: Rewriting Prompts for Instances with LLMs in the Loop Yields Better Zero-Shot Performance
    Saurabh Srivastava*, Chengyue Huang, Weiguo Fan, and 1 more author
    arXiv Preprint (to appear at ACL 2024 Findings), 2024
  6. ICLR’24W
    Can Large Language Models be Good Path Planners? A Benchmark and Investigation on Spatial-temporal Reasoning
    Mohamed Aghzal*, Erion Plaku, and Ziyu Yao
    ICLR Workshop on LLM Agents, 2024
  7. ICLR’24
    Large Language Model Cascades with Mixture of Thoughts Representations for Cost-efficient Reasoning
    (Featured in Hugging Face Daily Papers: https://huggingface.co/papers?date=2023-10-06)
    Murong Yue*, Jie Zhao, Min Zhang, and 2 more authors
    The Twelfth International Conference on Learning Representations (also at ICLR Workshop on Reliable and Responsible Foundation Models), 2024


  1. EMNLP’23 Demo
    Gentopia: A Collaborative Platform for Tool-Augmented LLMs
    (An open-source planform for creating, evaluating, and community-sharing Augmented Language Model (ALM)-based Agents)
    Binfeng Xu, Xukun Liu, Hua Shen, and 7 more authors
    arXiv preprint arXiv:2308.04030 (to appear at EMNLP’23), 2023
  2. EMNLP’23
    MAILEX: Email Event and Argument Extraction
    Saurabh Srivastava*, Gaurav Singh*, Shou Matsumoto, and 4 more authors
    arXiv preprint arXiv:2305.13469 (to appear at EMNLP’23), 2023
  3. ACL’23
    Improving Generalization in Language Model-based Text-to-SQL Semantic Parsing: Two Simple Semantic Boundary-based Techniques
    (Rank#8 on Spider leaderboard as of Aug 2023)
    Daking Rai*, Bailin Wang, Yilun Zhou, and 1 more author
    In Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers), 2023
  4. ACL’23
    Learning to Simulate Natural Language Feedback for Interactive Semantic Parsing
    Hao Yan*, Saurabh Srivastava*, Yintao Tai*, and 3 more authors
    In Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers), 2023
  5. AAAI’23 SA
    Explaining Large Language Model-Based Neural Semantic Parsers (Student Abstract)
    Daking Rai*, Yilun Zhou, Bailin Wang, and 1 more author
    AAAI Student Abstract, 2023