The Stan group at Columbia is looking to hire a postdoc^{*} to work on the next generation compiler for the Stan open-source probabilistic programming language. Ideally, a candidate will bring language development experience and also have research interests in a related field such as programming languages, applied statistics, numerical analysis, or statistical computation.

The language features on the roadmap include lambdas with closures, sparse matrices and vectors, ragged arrays, tuples and structs, user-defined Jacobians, and variadic functions. The parser, intermediate representation, and code generation are written in OCaml using the Menhir compiler framework. The code is hosted on GitHub in the stanc3 repo; the current design documents are in the design docs repo. The generated code is templated C++ that depends on the automatic differentiation framework in the Stan math library and is used by Stan’s statistical inference algorithms.

The research and development for Stan will be carried out in collaboration with the larger Stan development team, which includes a large group of friendly and constructive collaborators within and outside of Columbia University. In addition to software development, the team has a diverse set of research interests in programming language semantics, applied statistics, statistical methodology, and statistical computation. Of particular relevance to this project is foundational theory work on programming language semantics for differentiable and probabilistic programming languages.

The position would be housed in the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University and supervised by Bob Carpenter. The initial appointment will be for one year with a possible reappointment for a second year.

To apply, please send a CV and a statement of interest and experience in this area if not included in the CV to Bob Carpenter, carp@alias-i.com. The position is available immediately and we will review applications as they arrive.

Thanks to Schmidt Futures for the funding to make this possible!

^{*} We could also hire a contractor on an hourly basis. For that, I’d be looking for someone with experience who could hit the ground running with the OCaml code.

Yessssss!

If I were younger (etc.), that sounds like an enjoyable way to spend a year or so.