An Overview

The UBC Department of Computer Science (UBC CS) has a strong research presence, ranked within the top 3 in Canada, top 30 in North America, and top 50 worldwide. Our research, conducted by nearly 50 research-stream faculty and nearly 200 graduate students, takes place within 20+ research groups and coalitions that cover five broad categories.

Categories of Research

Artificial Intelligence (AI) &
Machine Learning (ML)

  • AI and ML have continued to be an area of focus and growth for UBC CS, with many recent faculty hires. We have numerous Canada CIFAR AI Chairs (Kevin Leyton-Brown, Jeff Clune, Mark Schmidt, Leonid Sigal, Vered Shwartz, and Frank Wood). 
  • A new collaboration, Mathematics of Information, Leanring and Data (MILD) was created in 2022, working on rigorous mathematics related to machine learning and data. 
  • Recently, Kevin Leyton-Brown chaired AAAI 2021 and Cristina Conati chaired IUI 2020. 
  • The Centre for Artificial Intelligence Decision-making and Action (CAIDA) unites researchers from all across UBC.

bezier curve
Graphics & Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

  • Our graphics group has been a major force at SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia for many years, earning accolades such as Technical Academy Awards and spinning off many start ups including Anomotion, Brightside Technologies, Exotic Matter, Hemisphere Games, Point Grey Research, VGC Software, and Vital Mechanics.
  • Our HCI group includes two recent hires and many prominent senior researchers; Karon MacLean chaired UIST 2020 and Joanna McGrenere chaired CHI 2020. The Designing for People (DFP) research network spans UBC, forming a nexus of social and technical problem-solving through human-centred design. 
  • UBC faculty co-founded the ACM SIGGRAPH / Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation.

Software Engineering, Programming Languages, and Formal Methods

  • UBC CS is a longstanding powerhouse in software engineering, particularly in human-centred approaches. A major spinoff company started by faculty and students in this area is Tasktop Technologies. 
  • We have two recent hires in programming languages and formal methods, and Ron Garcia chaired ICFP 2021.  

Systems & Data


  • Computer Systems has been bolstered by many recent faculty hires at all levels. Senior hire Margo Seltzer's arrival in 2018 as Canada 150 and Cheriton Family Chair brought the department $1M/year for seven years in federal funding, and we are joined by three new recent PhDs in security and privacy.
  • Data management, data mining, and social network analysis continue as active research areas for senior faculty
  • The Data Science Institute (DSI) brings together researchers across all departments within the Faculty of Science who innovate in data-intensive science.

Theory & Scientific Computing


  • UBC CS has many faculty interested in optimization, from multiple angles.  
  • Our other theory strengths include randomized algorithms, computational geometry, and algorithms for molecular computing.
  • Our scientific computing group has historical and current strengths in numerical methods, including numerical linear algebra and differential equations.        

Recent Highlights

  • 6 IEEE and ACM Fellows, 6 Royal Society of Canada Fellows
  • 8 Technical and Lifetime Leadership/Achievement Awards
  • 1 US National Academy of Engineering Member
  • 26 Best Paper/Distinguished Paper awards in the past 6 years 
  • 4 Test of Time/Most Influential Paper awards in the past 6 years 

Interdisciplinary Collaborations

  • UBC is a hotbed of research in computational health and medicine, bioinformatics, and genomics. Our CS faculty engage in collaborative research with many other groups including the UBC Faculty of Medicine and the wider biomedical community including: the BC Cancer Agency; Genome BC; St. Paul's Hospital; and BC Children's Hospital. 
  • UBC CS is a driving force behind many large-scale interdisciplinary initiatives, including Centre for Artificial Intelligence Decision-making and Action (CAIDA), Designing for People (DFP), and the Data Science Institute (DSI)
  • We have several joint appointments:  Andy Roth bridges CS and Pathology, and Michael Friedlander links CS with Mathematics (and is Director of the UBC Institute of Applied Mathematics). We are also currently hiring into several more joint positions with the Faculty of Medicine.  

Regional Initiatives

UBC CS is a part of the British Columbia-based Digital Supercluster, helping to drive global leadership in research of digital technologies, thereby fueling economic growth, and creating thousands of new jobs across Canada. 

We are also part of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, a new initiative to link the tech industry and research developments across the mega-region of Vancouver BC, Seattle WA, and Portland OR.


Last Updated