[ Home | Classes | Research | Students | About Me ]

[ School education | Family | Dancing | Random tidbits ]

School education

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, though I was moved to New Jersey soon afterwards. I attended the local public school for just over a year, then an all girls Catholic school (Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart), then a co-ed private school (Princeton Day School), and finally a boarding school where I was one of several dozen non-boarding day students (the Lawrenceville School). I was a first-former (8th grader) at the Lawrenceville School the first year they went co-ed (after 176 years of being an all male school).

After all that came MIT, where I double majored in computer science and mathematics (my academic advisor was Gerald Sussman; Charles Leiserson and his PhD student Sivan Toledo supervised my undergraduate thesis). Then I went to graduate school in computer science at UC Berkeley, where I got my MS and PhD degrees (my advisor was Jim Demmel).

Now I'm a professor in the CS department at Pomona College.


I have two amazing kids: Kira and Daniel (photos are old!). I also have a brother who lives in Massachusetts. His daughter, my niece, is also pretty amazing. My mother, Dr. Hsuchen, did research for many years before deciding to teach physics (and sometimes also chemistry) at WWPHS - North Campus. My father, another Dr. Chen, is a chemist. They're pretty amazing too.

Other relatives with a web presence:

  • My cousin Madeline (a Pomona alum)
  • My grandfather Xu Fuguan
  • Dancing

    Although I've tried various other non-academic hobbies (piano, flute (photo, age ~10) , fencing, chess, assorted arts and crafts) and still enjoy indulging in some of them occasionally, the one that I stuck with longest was/is dancing. I started dancing at age 5 when my parents enrolled me in a ballet class. I stopped seriously studying ballet at age 10, but had fun exploring various other styles of dance including tap (photo, age ~8), modern, square, circle, kathak, and ballroom (social and competitive).

    I took up Middle Eastern dancing in graduate school; my first teacher was Suhaila Salimpour. I've danced with various troupes (including the Suhaila Dance Company) in venues including Rakkasah (photo, with Moonfire), the Northern California Renaissance Faire, and the San Francisco Gay Pride celebration. I've also danced as a soloist once or twice at a few places (photo).

    Random tidbits

    I am very good at "suspension of disbelief", and generally prefer not to watch movies with (much) violence, blood, or suspense. This means I typically watch only a few very carefully selected movies each year, and instead mostly read movie plots on sites such as Greatest Films (classics) and The Movie Spoiler (recent releases). (For the first few years after becoming a parent, I only watched movies on airplanes.)

    Reading, on the other hand, I love. Here are some links to collections on the web:

  • classic short stories
  • short stories at east of the web
  • world wide school

  • "Don't let the work ethic take away your life ethic"
    -- anonymous