Adam A. Smith

Associate Professor
Dept of Math & Computer Science

Office:Thompson 390E

Welcome to my professional web page!


The classes I’m teaching in fall 2021 are:

Previous classes (that I’ll likely teach again) include:


My doctoral work was with Mark Craven, developing algorithms for the EDGE project. My dissertation is here. We developed machine learning methods to discriminate toxins based on gene expression levels. The ultimate goal of the EDGE project is to make the analysis of industrial chemicals faster, cheaper, and more accurate.

My postdoc research was with Garet Lahvis, performing mathematical analyses of mouse ultrasonic vocalizations. The goal of this research is to better understand the state of a mouse through its vocalizations, to create a baseline when mice are used as models of mental disease, such as autism, schizophrenia, or traumatic brain injury.

Curriculum Vitae

My full CV is here. In addition, here is my research statement and teaching statement.

Journal/Conference Publications

Self Publications

Undergrad Publications


I’m from the state of Oregon in the U.S., though I was raised up and down the Pacific coast. I earned my B.A. in Computer Science/Mathematics (combined major) and Physics with Honors from Lewis & Clark College in 1999, and my M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, in 2002 and 2009, respectively.

Academic Pedigree

Yup, academics keep track of this stuff. My line goes back to Danish linguists, and then German theologians. (I’m about as surprised by this as you are.)

  • Adam A. Smith, PhD Computer Sciences (2009), at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying under...
  • ...Mark Craven, PhD Computer Sciences (1996), from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying under...
  • ...Jude Shavlik, PhD Computer Science (1988), from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying under...
  • ...Gerald DeJong, PhD Computer Science (1979), from Yale University, studying under...
  • ...Roger Schank, PhD Linguistics (1969), from the University of Texas-Austin, studying under...
  • ...Jacob Mey, PhD Linguistics (1960), from the University of Copenhagen, studying under...
  • ...Louis Hjelmslev, MA Linguistics (1923), from the University of Copenhagen, studying under...
  • ...Holger Pedersen, PhD Linguistics (1897), from the University of Copenhagen, studying under...
  • ...Heinrich Friedrich Zimmer, PhD Indology and Sanskrit (1878), from the University of Tübingen, studying under...
  • ...Rudolf von Roth, PhD Semitic Linguistics (1843), from the University of Tübingen, studying under...
  • ...Georg Heinrich August Ewald, PhD Oriental Languages (1823), from the University of Göttingen
    and Ferdinand Christian Baur, Theology (1817), from the University of Tübingen, studying under...
  • ...Ernst Gottlieb Bengel, Theology (1792), from the University of Tübingen, studying under...
  • ...Gottlob Christian Storr, Theology (1768), from the University of Tübingen.

Credit to Ray Mooney and Tim Wille for putting this together.



  • I really want to get into your class, but it’s full. Come talk to me in person, to make your case. I might be able to help.

  • Can I get into your lab but someone else’s lecture? (Or vice-versa.) Maybe, in extreme cases. We really try to avoid this.

  • When will (Algorithms, AI, etc.) be offered again? A lot of care goes into choosing the class schedule, trying to balance a lot of competing needs. Unfortunately we can’t please everybody. Come talk to one of us though; we might be able to help.

  • Will you be my advisor? Probably, if you already know me. If not, come by and let’s chat in person. Regardless of whether I’m your advisor or not, I’m happy to talk to you about which CS classes to take.

Letters of recommendation:

  • I’m your student. Would you be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me? Probably, if you give me enough time. It always helps if I know you better, and you’ve taken at least a couple classes from me. If I don’t feel that I know you that well, or I don’t think that I can honestly write you a good letter, I’ll be up front and recommend that you ask someone else.

  • What should I do if I want a letter of recommendation? First, ask me and give me plenty of time (at least a month is best). If it’s a second letter, I’ll probably need less time. Second, remind me when there’s a week left. I’m very busy, and it can be easy to forget this kind of thing. Don’t be scared to poke me and remind me about it.

Social media:

  • I’m your student—will you friend me on social media? It depends on the site. Regardless, even if you get a feed, it will be heavily censored and not very interesting.
  • You have to understand—I’m not your friend. I’m your teacher. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like you. (Fact is, I’m very fond of most of my students.) But I value my freedom to be myself among friends, without having to worry about workplace politics. Maybe a year after you graduate, you can start getting to know me as an equal and a colleague. But in the meantime, I like to keep these parts of my life separate.

  • How about a professional site like LinkedIn? I’m fine with that, but I don’t check those very often.

My name:

  • Didn’t you write The Wealth of Nations? No, that was some other guy.

  • How about the U.S. rep from Washington’s 9th Congressional District? Nope. Do I look like a politician? I can’t stand kissing random babies.

  • The retired Canadian hockey player? Lord, no. I can barely stay upright on the ice. (Though I did play some ice hockey during grad school. Yes, really. Stop laughing.)

  • The computer science professor at Boston University? Closer, but still no. That’s Adam D. Smith.

  • The computer science professor at UC Santa Cruz? Nope. At least he does AI and games, but he’s Adam M. Smith.

  • Why do you include your middle initial in your name? Isn’t that kind of pretentious? Too many Smiths in this world, and too many Adam Smiths. See the previous questions.

  • What do you like your students to call you? Honestly, I’m happiest with just “Adam”. But I’m not going to object to “Professor” or “Dr. Smith”. (Though the latter sounds a bit too much like a certin sci fi villain.) I am not fond of “Mr. Smith”—I worked too hard for my doctorate.


  • What is your Erdős Number? Five. I coauthored with Mark Craven (my advisor), who wrote a paper with Michael Newton, who wrote with David Mason, who coauthored with Paul Deheuvels, who wrote a paper with Erdős.


I do have other hobbies outside of academia. I might even put one up here on occasion.

  • I do a little flag redesign.
  • If you’re having a bad day, I suggest watching flamingos with yo-yos.
  • If you’re having trouble deciding a major, watch this. (And then come find us when you’re ready to devote your life to finding missing close parens.
  • And finally, here’s a very special link for all my students who confuse “its” with “it’s”, or “less” with “fewer”.