Open Postdoctoral position, faculty mentor Chris Potts

Stanford University

HAI Postdoctoral Fellowship with Professor Chris Potts, Department of Linguistics
Foundation Models (FMs) are enabling researchers to build AI systems at higher levels of abstraction and with lower data requirements than ever before. However, these systems are being built around hand-crafted, prompt templates. This is akin to setting the weights of a classifier by hand rather than learning them from data.
Toward a more systematic approach, we have introduced DSPy, a programming model that abstracts FM pipelines as imperative computation graphs. DSPy modules are parameterized, meaning they can learn how to apply compositions of prompting, fine-tuning, augmentation, and reasoning techniques, and the DSPy compiler will optimize any DSPy pipeline. Even simple DSPy pipelines, once compiled, routinely outperform pipelines with hand-created prompts and allow us to develop performant systems using relatively small LMs.
We see at least four main areas in which the postdoctoral fellow might contribute: (1) contributing to the DSPy library, (2) developing new FMs, (3) creating new approaches to optimizing DSPy programs, and (4) explaining why specific DSPy programs are effective using interpretability techniques we have developed. The postdoctoral fellow will be free to chose which of these areas to focus on, and we are open to new areas we might be overlooking right now.
Mentorship structure
The postdoc will primarily be supervised by Potts, with informal supervision from Matei Zaharia (Berkeley) and Omar Khattab (Stanford). The postdoc will also become a member of the Stanford NLP Group.
Stanford HAI is also committed to creating a diverse community of scholars who are engaged in contributing to the understanding and advancement of Human-Centered AI. Postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to engage with one another and with the broader Stanford HAI research community. They are also expected to participate in professional development, cohort-building, and other programmatic activities organized by HAI.
Evaluation criteria

  • Research excellence
  • Alignment of research interests with project goals
  • Track record of mentoring more junior scholars


  • Application Deadline: March 20, 2024 (Applicants advancing in the review process may be asked to submit additional materials, including letters of recommendation, and may be invited to interview.)
  • Selections to be made by mid-April, 2024
  • This is a 1-year appointment starting Fall 2024

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