Aaron Chan

PhD Candidate at USC   •   aarzchan :slightly_smiling_face: gmail :upside_down_face: com


Hi! :wave: I’m a computer science PhD candidate in the INK Lab at the University of Southern California (USC), advised by Prof. Xiang Ren. I’m also a member of USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI).

My research is at the intersection of natural language processing and machine learning. In particular, I’m excited about:

  • model explainability: explaining language model behavior more faithfully, plausibly, and efficiently.
  • explanation-based learning: operationalizing explanations to improve language model generalization and decision-making.

In the past, I’ve worked as a research intern at Meta AI and an engineering intern at Google.

Before coming to USC, I earned a master’s degree in robotics from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Currently, I’m based in the Washington, DC metro area, where I live with my wife. Outside of work, you might find me playing/watching basketball (go Wizards!), skiing, hiking, board gaming, or foodie-ing (:sushi::curry::crab::pizza:). Plus, I’m a huge fan of the TV shows Seinfeld and BoJack Horseman.


Jul 18, 2022 I’m in Baltimore this week for ICML 2022! :airplane: I’ll be presenting UNIREX on July 19.
Jul 10, 2022 I’m in Seattle this week for NAACL 2022! :airplane: I’ll be presenting ER-Test with Brihi Joshi at the TrustNLP Workshop on July 14.
May 15, 2022 UNIREX was accepted to ICML 2022! :confetti_ball:
May 10, 2022 After completing my PhD in Fall 2022, I’ll be joining Meta AI as a research scientist! :man_technologist:
May 09, 2022 ER-Test was accepted to the TrustNLP Workshop @ NAACL 2022! :tada:
Apr 30, 2022 I’m presenting UNIREX today at the Socially Responsible ML Workshop @ ICLR 2022. Come find me at Poster D2!
Mar 31, 2022 UNIREX was accepted to the BigScience Workshop @ ACL 2022! :tada:
Mar 27, 2022 UNIREX was accepted to the Socially Responsible ML Workshop @ ICLR 2022! :tada:
Mar 11, 2022 I passed my PhD thesis proposal! :ballot_box_with_check: Check out my slides here.
Jan 10, 2022 In Spring 2022, I’m a TA for CSCI 566 (Deep Learning and its Applications) at USC.
Dec 16, 2021 A preprint of my Meta AI intern project, UNIREX, is now up on arXiv.
Dec 09, 2021 I’m presenting SalKG today at NeurIPS 2021. Come chat with me at Poster Session 7!
Sep 28, 2021 SalKG was accepted to NeurIPS 2021! :confetti_ball:
Sep 20, 2021 I started my research internship at Facebook AI Meta AI, where I’ll be working on language model explainability with the AI Integrity Team.
Jul 31, 2021 This summer, I had an awesome time mentoring Wyatt Lake, as part of USC’s SHINE program. Check out Wyatt’s project on explanation-based regularization of BERT models.

Selected Publications

  1. arXiv
    FRAME: Evaluating Simulatability Metrics for Free-Text Rationales
    A. Chan, S. Nie, L. Tan, X. Peng, H. Firooz, M. Sanjabi, and X. Ren
    arXiv Preprint, 2022
  2. TrustNLP
    ER-Test: Evaluating Explanation Regularization Methods for NLP Models
    B. Joshi*, A. Chan*, Z. Liu*, S. Nie, M. Sanjabi, H. Firooz, and X. Ren
    TrustNLP Workshop @ NAACL, 2022
  3. ICML
    UNIREX: A Unified Learning Framework for Language Model Rationale Extraction
    A. Chan, M. Sanjabi, L. Mathias, L. Tan, S. Nie, X. Peng, X. Ren, and H. Firooz
    ICML, 2022
  4. NeurIPS
    SalKG: Learning From Knowledge Graph Explanations for Commonsense Reasoning
    A. Chan, J. Xu, B. Long, S. Sanyal, T. Gupta, and X. Ren
    NeurIPS, 2021
    Learning Contextualized Knowledge Structures for Commonsense Reasoning
    J. Yan, M. Raman, A. Chan, T. Zhang, R. Rossi, H. Zhao, S. Kim, N. Lipka, and X. Ren
    Findings of ACL-IJCNLP, 2021
  6. ICLR
    Learning to Deceive Knowledge Graph Augmented Models via Targeted Perturbation
    M. Raman, A. Chan*, S. Agarwal*, P. Wang, H. Wang, S. Kim, R. Rossi, H. Zhao, N. Lipka, and X. Ren
    ICLR, 2021