Meet Kartik Singhal, computer science student

January 6, 2020

Kartik Singhal

This article was originally posted 1/6/2020 and updated on 10/20/22.

Kartik Singhal was born and raised in Ghaziabad, India. He holds a bachelor of technology in computer science and engineering from the National Institute of Technology Calicut and a master of science in computer science from Brown University. He also worked as a software engineer at Oracle India. He is now pursuing a doctorate in computer science at the University of Chicago. We interviewed him about his experiences below.

What have you been studying or researching as part of your program?

I study the design & semantics of programming languages and program verification for quantum computation. I look for ways to expose useful abstractions specific to quantum computing as programming language features and come up with ways to make sure the programs we write for quantum computers are bug-free.

I switched to a new advisor, Robert Rand, in January 2021, who has a whole group called ChiQP-Lab. As I get closer to the finish, my research focus has become more specific: for my thesis, I am providing formal semantics to Microsoft's Q# programming language while also improving its type system so that quantum programs do not fail at run time.

Why did you choose the University of Chicago?

I chose the University of Chicago for a few reasons:

  • I found a good intersection of research interests with my advisor.
  • It was a chance to live in a big city like Chicago.
  • The CS department here was growing (moving to a new building and hiring a lot of new faculty). My previous advisor at Brown suggested that it meant they wouldn’t be complacent like other big and famous CS schools and would be receptive to student voices and needs (my experience has been positive in this regard).
  • Since the College at UChicago is a private liberal arts school, I thought it would be much like Brown, where I was exposed to new disciplines and people—an experience that helped me grow a lot as a person.

Please describe something you are proud of accomplishing at UChicago.

Since Jan 2020, I have had two first-author papers accepted at the International Conference on Quantum Physics and Logic: QPL 2020 and QPL 2022.

I have also started maintaining a bibliography for my research area (Quantum Programming Languages & Verification),  which a lot of people have told me that they find helpful.

I helped start the volunteer organization in CS that represents PhD students’ interests to the department and helped build systems that lead to more interaction among CS PhD students who may not be in the same lab.

What’s something you love to do outside of the classroom and lab?
Biking (when the weather permits). I love reading and also happen to really enjoy contributing to open source software.

What are your plans post-UChicago?

In my job search, I am prioritizing research-adjacent roles in the industry. I am also open to the possibility of doing a post doc given the industry is slowing down hiring in the current economy.

If you were speaking to someone who wants to learn about UChicago, what would you tell them?
UChicago is full of opportunities like most other big schools; one needs to take an active role in seeking them.

How has your background or experience prepared you to contribute to an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued?
I went through several layers of exposure to a diversity of people in my life. I grew up in a relatively homogenous region in Northern India and then spent six years in Southern India: first as an undergrad in a national institute (with students from all states of a huge and diverse country with their own regional languages and customs) and then working in Bangalore where none of my immediate teammates or managers spoke my native tongue. This was then followed by these last four years in the US where I lived in three different states (Rhode Island, California for two summers, and Illinois) and was exposed to a diversity of people, languages, and viewpoints. At each of these stages of my life, I was in a leadership/mentoring role where I helped develop an environment where everyone’s voice was heard and respected.

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