I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, working with Tovi Grossman. I received my Ph.D., advised by Steve Oney, from the University of Michigan School of Information. I study and create programming support systems to improve people's performance in software development and programming learning. In particular, my research in human-computer interaction (HCI) studies challenges that computer programmers at all levels of expertise face when using existing tools and methods to seek support. It combines human and machine computation to create programming support systems that can effectively and scalably assist programmers when needed. The systems I create address challenges including providing personalized help in nearly real time, providing feedback to learners at scale, making communication more effective, better using human effort to progressively automate machine, and coordinating teams to more efficiently collaborate, which neither computers nor humans can effectively solve alone. To make these systems possible, my research explores how to design workflows and interfaces that can effectively coordinate and scale the collective effort of experts, non-experts, and machines.


I'm on the job market this year! Happy to hear and chat about opportunities!

Selected Publications

Rui Dong, Zhicheng Huang, Ian Iong Lam, Yan Chen, Xinyu Wang. WebRobot: Web Robotic Process Automation using Interactive Programming-by-Demonstration. ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), 2022. (conditionally accepted)

Jiannan Li, Mauricio Sousa, Chu Li, Jessie Liu, Yan Chen, Ravin Balakrishnan, Tovi Grossman. ASTEROIDS: Exploring Swarms of Mini-Telepresence Robots for Physical Skill Demonstration. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2022.

Yan Chen, Tovi Grossman. Umitation: Retargeting UI Behavior Examples for Website Design. ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST), 2021

Umitation enables web developers to perform "copy-and-paste" (retarget) interaction on web front-end UI behaviors with a trigger-object-response framework.

April Wang*, Yan Chen*, John Joon Young Chung, Christopher Brooks, Steve Oney. PuzzleMe: Leveraging Peer Assessment for In-Class Programming Exercises. ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), 2021 (* == equal contribution).

To scale programming support in a large live classroom, PuzzleMe coordinates students to help each other by exchanging test cases and problem-solving approaches for coding exercises.

Yan Chen, Sang Won Lee, Steve Oney. CoCapture: Effectively Communicating UI Behaviors on Existing Websites by Demonstrating and Remixing. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2021.

CoCapture allows designers to create UI behavior mockups on existing web interfaces by demonstrating and remixing, and to accurately describe their requests to developers by referencing the resulting mockups using hypertext.

Yan Chen, Walter S. Lasecki, Tao Dong. Towards Supporting Programming Education at Scale via Live Streaming. ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), 2020.

Explores the motivations/barriers/opportunities of live streaming programming as compared to pre-recorded video through interviews with 14 streamers & 12 viewers.

Yan Chen, Jaylin Herskovitz, Walter S. Lasecki, Steve Oney. A Hybrid Crowd-Machine Workflow for Program Synthesis. IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 2020.

Bashon introduces a crowdsourcing approach to help make program synthesis systems more robust, reliable, and trustworthy, and reduces the cost of downstream data collection for training a program synthesis system.

Yan Chen, Jaylin Herskovitz, Gabriel Matute, April Wang, Sang Won Lee, Walter S. Lasecki, Steve Oney. EdCode: Towards Personalized Support at Scale for Remote Assistance in CS Education. IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 2020. (🏆 Best Short Paper)

EdCode applies a semi-asychronous on-demand help seeking model in a learning setting, aiming towards provide more personalized support at scale.

Yan Chen, Maulishree Pandey, Jean Y. Song, Walter S. Lasecki, Steve Oney. Improving Crowd-Supported GUI Testing with Structural Guidance. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2020.

Two techniques, interactive event-flow graphs and GUI-level guidance, that guide GUI testers to discover more test cases and avoid duplicate test cases.

Yan Chen, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Ian Wehrman, Steve Oney, Walter S. Lasecki, Rajan Vaish. Sifter: A Hybrid Workflow for Theme-based Video Curation at Scale. ACM Conference on Interactive Media Experiences (IMX), 2020.

Sifter improves the video curation process by combining automated techniques with a human-powered two-stage pipeline that browses, selects, and reaches an agreement.

Yan Chen, Sang Won Lee, Yin Xie, YiWei Yang, Walter Lasecki, and Steve Oney. Codeon: On-Demand Software Development Assistance. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2017.
[local pdf | full video | 30s preview | BibTeX ]

CodeOn enables effective task hand-offs between developers and remote helpers by allowing asynchronous responses to on-demand requests.

Sang Lee, Yan Chen, Noah Klugman, Sai R. Gouravajhala, Angela Chen, and Walter S. Lasecki. Exploring Coordination Models for Ad Hoc Programming Teams ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Late Breaking Work (CHI), 2017.

Explore the types and causes of the coordination costs for transient software teams when using existing collaborative programming tools: a VCS and a shared editor.

Yan Chen, Steve Oney and Walter Lasecki. Towards Providing On-Demand Expert Support for Software Developers. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2016.
[pdf | ACM DL | 30s preview | talk | BibTeX ]

Two studies that present the opportunities and the design recommendations of on-demand remote support systems for developers.

Other Publications

Yan Chen, Jasmine Jones, and Steve Oney.
The New Future of Work  Microsoft Research 2020
Yan Chen
VL/HCC Graduate Consortium 2019
Sang Lee, Yan Chen, and Walter S. Lasecki.
Yan Chen, Steve Oney and Walter Lasecki.
Collective Intelligence 2016. Oral Presentation.
pdf ·  BibTeX
Esther Vasiete, Yan Chen, Ian Char, Tom Yeh, Vishal Patel, Larry Davis, and Rama Chellappa.
Mobile HCI Poster 2014
pdf ·  ACM DL
Vishal Patel, Tom Yeh, M Salem, Yangmuzi Zhang, Yan Chen, Rama Chellappa, Larry Davis.
IT Professional 2013
pdf ·  IEEE
Yan Chen, Harvey Segur
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences.