Carnegie Mellon University

Machine Learning PhD Graduate 2018 Highlight of the Week – Ahmed Hefny

June 04, 2018

Machine Learning PhD Graduate 2018 Highlight of the Week – Ahmed Hefny

Byron Spice
  • Director of Media Relations
  • 412-268-9068

This is the second part of #MLCMUGrads18, where we are celebrating our PhD Graduates for 2018 where each one of our Machine Learning graduates will be on the spotlight due to their contributions and achievements in Machine Learning. Follow along either by social media #MLCMUGrads18 or by following our RSS feed.

Ahmed Hefny recently graduated with a PhD in Machine Learning after successfully defending his thesis: “Efficient Methods for Prediction and Control in Partially Observable Environments” – Ahmed’s research focuses on building better models for learning and control of dynamical systems. Ahmed’s goal is to provide practical methods with provable guarantees for learning to act and predict in partially observable environments. Such research draws elements and ideas from predictive state representations, kernel methods, recurrent neural networks and reinforcement learning. Ahmed’s other interest include optimization, building probabilistic models for textual and social data, along software engineering for Machine Learning.


How do you think that Carnegie Mellon has prepared you for the future?

I had a unique research experience at CMU. Not only did I learn how to ask the right questions, how to explore scientific literature, how to approach new problems, and how to seek collaborations but more importantly, I learned how to deal with failures: when to decide to give up and when to try digging more and how to develop a plan that allows me to explore the topics I am passionate about and go through uncharted regions while minimizing the risk when things don't work. I believe these skills will greatly help me in my career.

What is your favorite quote?

Two quotes come to mind:

"Verily, with hardship comes ease" — Quran 94:6

"A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for." — John A. Shedd

What is your main takeaway form your trajectory at the Machine Learning Department with CMU?

A knowledgeable person reads a lot. An expert reads, discusses with others, tries and deeply investigates. 

What are you planning to do now that you have graduated?

I am moving to the Bay Area where I will join Waymo as a Software Engineer. I am excited to be at the forefront of advancing technology. 

Do you have any advice for current PhD students in our department?

Write, talk, communicate and make mistakes. Don't be afraid of feeling or looking dumb! If you are the smartest in the room, you are in the wrong room.

"There is no single path to success. Do what is aligned with your interests and career goals." 

Ahmed is an inspiration to our students and prospect students at Carnegie Mellon University. We couldn’t be more proud of Ahmed for successfully graduating from the Machine Learning Department with a PhD in Machine Learning, his achievements and contributions to AI, Machine Learning and CS will just continue to rise. Remember to stay tuned to #MLCMUGrads18 in social media or follow our RSS feed to stay updated with new highlights as they come along.