John Mitchell

John Mitchell

PhD, MIT (1984)

About

"Over my 30 years at Stanford, I have done research on programming languages, computer security and education. I spent six years as vice provost. returning to the computer science department in 2018 and beginning my term as department chair in 2019.

"In the area of programming languages, I have worked on type systems, modularity, and mathematical methods for proving properties of programming languages. A portion of this work helped establish the tone and scope of current programming language conferences (POPL, PLDI, etc) and contributed to object, type, and module constructs in Java and other languages.

"In the area of computer security, our group worked on security of network protocols, authentication, authorization, privacy, and foundations of security. Among other topics, we developed a number of principles for web security and collaborated on the initial security architecture of the Chrome browser.

"My research in education started with development of Stanford CourseWare platform, which served as the foundation for initial flipped classroom experiments at Stanford and helped inspire the first massive open online courses (MOOCs) from Stanford. As vice provost, my team worked with more than 500 Stanford faculty members and instructors on over 1,000 online projects for campus or public audiences. I also co-founded the Lytics Lab to improve educational outcomes through data-driven, co-lead the Carta project, and set up collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District around CS education.

"My current research focuses on blockchain, AI explainability, and CS education."

John Mitchell is the Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor, professor of computer science, and by courtesy professor of electrical engineering and professor of education. He was previously appointed as Stanford Vice Provost for Online Learning (2012-2015) and Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (2015-2018). His team worked with more than 500 Stanford faculty members and instructors on over 1,000 online projects for campus or public audiences and organized the Year of Learning to envision the future of teaching and learning at Stanford and beyond. As co-director of the Lytics Lab and Carta Lab, he worked to improve educational outcomes through data-driven research and iterative design. Recent interviews and articles for the general public include: The Ethics of Emerging Technologies (podcast with Tom Byers and Mildred Cho), Aspen Institute Forum for the Future of Higher Education Interview Series - John Mitchell, and School of Engineering Interviews ”How can we improve online learning?” and “How can we design for security?.” Mitchell’s past research has focused on computer security, including network protocols, web security, and privacy, as well as programming languages and applications of mathematical logic to computer science. Relevant publications include Reinforcement Learning for the Adaptive Scheduling of Educational Activities (CHI 2020), Automated Analysis of Cryptographic Assumptions in Generic Group Models (J. Cryptology, 2019), Evaluating the privacy properties of telephone metadata (PNAS 2016), Third-party web tracking: Policy and technology (IEEE S&P). He is the author of two textbooks, Foundations for Programming Languages (1996) and Concepts in Programming Languages (2002); over 200 publications have received over 25,000 citations. Mitchell’s first research project in online learning started in 2009, when he and six undergraduate students built Stanford CourseWare, an innovative platform that expanded to support interactive video and discussion. CourseWare served as the foundation for initial flipped classroom experiments at Stanford and helped inspire the first massive open online courses (MOOCs) from Stanford. Professor Mitchell currently serves as Chair of the Stanford Department of Computer Science.

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