Rediet Abebe

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Rediet Abebe
Rediet Abebe

May 1991 (1991-05) (age 29)
Alma mater
Known forMechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG)
AI for social good
Scientific career
ThesisDesigning Algorithms for Social Good (2019)
Doctoral advisorJon M. Kleinberg

Rediet Abebe (Amharic: ረድኤት አበበ; born 1991) is an Ethiopian computer scientist working in algorithms and artificial intelligence. She is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley and a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.[1] Abebe is the first female computer scientist and second Junior Fellow with a computer science Ph.D. to be inducted into the Society and the first Black woman to be appointed a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Abebe's research develops mathematical and computational frameworks for examining questions related to discrimination, poverty, and inequality.[2] She co-founded the multi-institutional interdisciplinary research initiative Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) and Black in AI.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Abebe was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.[5] She was educated in the Ethiopian National Curriculum at Nazareth School before winning a competitive merit-based scholarship to attend the International Community School of Addis Ababa for high school.[5]

Abebe attended Harvard University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and later a Master of Science degree in applied mathematics. As an undergraduate, she co-authored research papers in mathematics, physics, and public health.[6][7] She completed her master's degree from Harvard SEAS, conducting research with professor David C. Parkes. While at Harvard, Abebe contributed to The Harvard Crimson as a staff writer, where she focused on the Cambridge public school system (2009-2011).[8]

After college, she attended the University of Cambridge as the Governor William Shirley Scholar at Pembroke College.[9][10] She completed the Mathematics Tripos and earned a Master of Advanced Studies in pure mathematics under the supervision of Imre Leader.

Abebe completed her doctoral degree in computer science at Cornell University, where she was advised by Jon Kleinberg.[11] Her dissertation made notable contributions across multiple fields in computer science, receiving the 2020 ACM SIGKDD Dissertation Award and an honorable mention for the ACM SIGecom Dissertation Award. She is the first Black woman to complete a Ph.D. in computer science in the university's history. [12]

Research and career[edit]

Abebe's research develops techniques in AI and algorithms to improve access to opportunity for historically marginalized communities.[13] Her work has introduced new algorithmic frameworks for examining questions related to poverty and inequality.

In 2018, Abebe presented her talk Can Algorithms Reduce Inequality?[14] at TEDxLosGatos.[15]

Throughout 2019 Abebe served on the National Institutes of Health Working Group on AI along AI experts including Kate Crawford, Dina Katabi, Daphne Koller, and Eric Lander.[16] The working group was tasked with developing a comprehensive report and recommendations, which were unanimously approved by the Advisory Committee to the Director and NIH General Director Francis Collins.[16]

In 2019, Abebe was inducted into the Harvard Society of Fellows.[17] She is the second Junior Fellow with a CS Ph.D., the first female computer scientist, and the first Black computer scientist in the Society's history.[18]

Abebe joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley as an Assistant Professor, where she is a member of both the theory and artificial intelligence research groups. She is the first Black female professor in the history of the department and the second in the history of the College of Engineering.[19]

Mechanism Design for Social Good[edit]

Abebe co-founded the Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) initiative, a multi-disciplinary research collective that uses algorithms and mechanism design to tackle inequality, with Kira Goldner, in 2016. Abebe has since been co-organizing the initiative with Irene Lo and Ana-Andreea Stoica. MD4SG hosts an annual workshop series highlighting work and connecting the community of researchers committed to using algorithms to improve societal welfare.

Abebe was honored as a pioneer in the 2019 MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 in part for her work co-founding MD4SG.[20][21] Her dissertation received the 2020 ACM SIGKDD Dissertation Award and an honorable mention for the ACM SIGecom Dissertation Award for offering foundations of the emerging area of Mechanism Design for Social Good.[22]

Black in AI[edit]

Abebe co-founded Black in AI, a network of 1,500 researchers working on AI, with Timnit Gebru, in 2016.[23][24] The organization arranges annual workshops at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) and offers networking and collaborative opportunities. Through Black in AI, Abebe has spearheaded the Academic Program, for which she was honored in the 2019 Bloomberg 50 list as a one to watch.[25]

Awards and honors[edit]

Abebe's awards and honors include:

  • 2020: ACM SIGKDD Dissertation Award[26]
  • 2020: ACM SIGecom Dissertation Award (honorable mention)[27]
  • 2020: Innovation for Equity, Rising Star Award[28]
  • 2019: Harvard Society of Fellows, Junior Fellow
  • 2019: MIT Technology Review, 35 Under 35[29]
  • 2019: Bloomberg 50, One to Watch[30]


  1. ^ "Current and Former Junior Fellows". Harvard Society of Fellows. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  2. ^ "Meet the Innovators Under 35". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  3. ^ "Black in AI". Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  4. ^ "Mechanism Design for Social Good". Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  5. ^ a b "How Ethiopia's Rediet Abebe is using algorithms and AI to address socio-economic inequality". Levers in Heels. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  6. ^ Harding, Charles; Pompei, Francesco; Burmistrov, Dmitriy; Welch, H. Gilbert; Abebe, Rediet; Wilson, Richard (2015). "Breast Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Mortality Across US Counties". JAMA Internal Medicine. 175 (9): 1483–9. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3043. PMID 26147578. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  7. ^ Trifunovic, Luka; Dial, Oliver; Trif, Mircea; Wootton, James R.; Abebe, Rediet; Yacoby, Amir; Loss, Daniel (2012). "Long-Distance Spin-Spin Coupling via Floating Gates". Physical Review X. 2 (1): 011006. arXiv:1110.1342. Bibcode:2012PhRvX...2a1006T. doi:10.1103/PhysRevX.2.011006. S2CID 1275824.
  8. ^ "Rediet T. Abebe - Writer Page". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  9. ^ "The Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships – Former Scholars". The Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  10. ^ "Cambridge Scholars". Harvard Magazine. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  11. ^ "Jon Kleinberg – Home Page". Cornell University. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  12. ^ "In December, Rediet Abebe Will Become the First Black Woman to Receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Cornell". The Cornell Sun. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  13. ^ "Mechanism Design for Social Good – MIT Technology Review". MIT Technology Review Events. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  14. ^ "Can Algorithms Reduce Inequality? - Rediet Abebe - TEDxLosGatos". TEDx Talks. October 29, 2018. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  15. ^ "TEDxLosGatos". TED. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  16. ^ a b "ACD Working Group on Artificial Intelligence". NIH Advisory Committee to the Director. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  17. ^ "Rediet Abebe". Berkman Klein Center. 2019-08-16. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  18. ^ "Current and Former Junior Fellows". Harvard Society of Fellows. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  19. ^ "Cornell's first black female CS Ph.D. blazed her own trail". Cornell Chronicle. May 21, 2020. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  20. ^ "Meet the Innovators Under 35 – MIT Technology Review". MIT Technology Review Events. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  21. ^ "35 Innovators Under 35 - Pioneers". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  22. ^ "ACM SIGecom Dissertation Award". Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  23. ^ Forbes (2019-02-22). "Rediet Abebe, Co-Founder of Black in AI, talks about the need for more diversity in AI job roles, and why she founded her own organization". @forbes. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  24. ^ "Rediet Abebe". Berkman Klein Center. 2019-08-16. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
  25. ^ "The Bloomberg 50". Retrieved 2020-11-29.
  26. ^ "ACM SIGKDD Dissertation Award". Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  27. ^ "ACM SIGecom Dissertation Award". Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  28. ^ "Innovation for Equity". Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  29. ^ "MIT Technology Review". Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  30. ^ "Bloomberg 50". Retrieved 2020-09-07.

External links[edit]

  1. Rediet Abebe publications indexed by Google Scholar
  2. She uses algorithms and AI to fight socioeconomic inequality in MIT Technology Review 'Pioneers, In breaking with the old ways, they create better AI, antibiotics, and even architecture'.