I am a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond in the Mobility and Networking Research Group. My research focuses on practical machine learning (ML) for networking, seeking to create ML algorithms that are deployable on real-world networked systems and build platforms for training and validating new algorithms.

I completed my Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University in 2020, advised by Keith Winstein and Philip Levis. My dissertation was on the development of platforms and algorithms to achieve practical reinforcement learning (RL) on the Internet, in the context of video streaming and congestion control. The two papers composing my dissertation received the Community Award at USENIX NSDI 2020 and the Best Paper Award at USENIX ATC 2018 respectively.

Before that, I graduated from Tsinghua University in 2015, where I received a B.S. in computer science from Yao Class (founded by Turing Award laureate Andrew Chi-Chih Yao) and a B.A. in economics. I also studied at MIT in the spring of 2014.

Francis Y. Yan, Hudson Ayers, Chenzhi Zhu, Sadjad Fouladi, James Hong, Keyi Zhang, Philip Levis, Keith Winstein
emoji_events Community Award (“for the best paper whose code and/or data set is made publicly available”)
USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI), February 2020
links websitetalk slidescodewikipedia coverage
arrow_right We built Puffer, a free, publicly accessible website that live-streams television channels and operates as a randomized experiment of adaptive bitrate (ABR) algorithms. As of June 2020, Puffer has attracted 120,000 real users and streamed 60 years of video across the Internet. Using Puffer, we developed an ML-based ABR algorithm, Fugu, that robustly outperformed existing schemes by learning in situ, on real data from its actual deployment environment.

Francis Y. Yan, Jestin Ma, Greg D. Hill, Deepti Raghavan, Riad S. Wahby, Philip Levis, Keith Winstein
emoji_events Best Paper Award
USENIX Annual Technical Conference (ATC), July 2018
links website talk slidescode
arrow_right Pantheon is a community “training ground” for Internet congestion-control research and has assisted four schemes from other research groups in publishing at NSDI 2018 (Copa and Vivace), ICML 2019 (Aurora), and SIGCOMM 2020 (TCP-TACK). It also enabled our own ML-based congestion-control algorithm, Indigo, which was trained to imitate expert congestion-control algorithms we created in emulation and achieved good performance over the real Internet.
  • Reviewer, IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking (2019–)
  • Reviewer, ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review (2019–)
  • Reviewer, Computer Communications (2019–)

My current favorite sport is table tennis (skilled), but I also enjoy skiing (blue trail), ice/roller skating (intermediate), playing badminton (average), swimming (novice), etc. When I have no other choice, I'm fine with hiking too, ideally on scenic trails.

Life-changing tools (software and hardware):