AI for Programming Education

Education needs technology-based disruption for personalization. Programming education needs most attention, given the increasing skills gap in the IT industry and the need to introduce computational thinking in schools. Programming education is also challenging as there is no unique solution to a problem and today’s programming toolkit is far from the challengers that learners face. First, precise syntax requirement of programming languages (made worse by confusing and unhelpful errors messages from compilers) throws off some students who fall behind or drop off. Then the next challenge for students is to fix semantic/logical bugs in their programs. Providing them a sample solution isn’t sufficient since what they really need to know is, how their solution, which reflects their creative process, can be lifted into a correct solution. There is potential to also help students with performance and design issues in their code. With recent ongoing advances in program analysis and synthesis techniques, there is a huge opportunity to build AI-powered bots for programming education that can provide personalized and interactive feedback/hints to students just like a human instructor. This can enable more students to learn, and learn better and faster. In this talk, I will showcase some of these advances and potential.

Speaker Details

Sumit Gulwani is a computer scientist connecting ideas, research & practice, and people with varied roles. He invented the popular Flash Fill feature in Excel and founded the PROSE research and engineering team that has shipped program synthesis innovations across multiple Microsoft products including Office, Visual Studio, PowerQuery, PowerApps, Powershell, and SQL. He has co-authored 10 award-winning papers (including 3 test-of-time awards from ICSE and POPL) amongst 140+ research publications across multiple computer science areas and delivered 50+ keynotes/invited talks. He was awarded the Max Planck-Humboldt medal in 2021 and the ACM SIGPLAN Robin Milner Young Researcher Award in 2014 for his pioneering contributions to program synthesis and intelligent tutoring systems. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from UC-Berkeley, and was awarded the ACM SIGPLAN Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. He obtained his BTech in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Kanpur, and was awarded the President’s Gold Medal.

Sumit Gulwani