Austin Watkins


Malone Hall 3400 N Charles St

Baltimore, MD 21218

I’m a second-year PhD student in computer science at Johns Hopkins University, advised by Prof. Raman Arora. My CV is here.

I research theoretical machine learning. Specifically, I study the properties of representation learning, such as fine-tuning, multi-task, sample complexity, and computational considerations.

I completed a B.S. in applied mathematics and a B.S. in computer science at the University of Utah, advised by Prof. Jeff Phillips. My undergraduate research on bounding the VC-dimension of inflated polynomials, the Minkowski sum of a Euclidean ball and a polynomial, was recognized by the Computing Research Association with an Honorable Mention for the 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers award.

I also enjoy long walks, cooking, photography, reading, and magic tricks.


August 2022 πŸ“š I’m a teaching assistant for the Machine Learning class taught by Mark Dredze and Anqi Liu .
June 2022 ⭐️ My first publication! Using Existential Theory of the Reals to Bound VC Dimension has been accepted to the Canadian Conference on Computational Geometry.
January 2022 πŸ“š I’m the head teaching assistant for the Software Testing and Debugging class taught by Ali Darvish.
September 2021 🏫 I’m now at Johns Hopkins University as a computer science PhD student researching machine learning!
January 2021 πŸ”¬ I’m a predoctoral fellow at the University of Utah hosted by Jeff Phillips working on adversarial robustness.
December 2020 πŸŽ“ I have graduated with honors with a B.S. in computer science and applied mathematics. My thesis, in the computer science department, is on using tools from algebraic geometry to bound the VC dimension of inflated polynomials.
December 2020 πŸ† I have been recognized by the Computing Research Association with a 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award - Honorable Mention.
May 2020 πŸ’» I’m doing a summer internship at Amazon Web Services. I am on a Python-based data science team within DynamoDB.
August 2019 πŸ“š I’m a teaching assistant for an intro to theoretical computer science class taught by Ganesh Gopalakrishnan.
January 2019 πŸ”¬ I have started research on the numerical error in neural networks with Prof. Ganesh Gopalakrishnan while being mentored by PhD student Vinu Joseph.
January 2019 πŸ”¬ I’m now doing undergraduate research in financial machine learning with Jingyi Zhu in the Math Department. Among other things, I wrote a technical report with Carlos E. Jimenez.
January 2018 🏫 I’m now attending the University of Utah!
December 2017 πŸŽ“ I have graduated with an A.S. in General Studies with a 4.0 GPA while working 29 hours per week at the college graduation office.
January 2017 πŸ† I have been awarded the Pride In Academics award. β€œAwarded to accomplished students of diversity,” due to my academic accomplishment while being a first-generation student without a high school diploma.
May 2016 🏫 I’m now attending Salt Lake Community College!
December 2015 I have left my sales job.
October 2015 πŸ€” I have made the goal to do a PhD in machine learning.


  1. CCCG
    Using Existential Theory of the Reals to Bound VC Dimension
    Watkins, Austin,Β and Phillips, Jeff
    Canadian Conference on Computational Geometry, 2022