Indian-American computer science professor at Kansas State gets Amazon Research Award

Pavithra Prabhakar, Peggy and Gary Edwards chair in engineering an professor of computer science at Kansas State University. Photo:

Professor of computer science at Kansas State University Pavithra Prabhakar received the Amazon Research Award to research how to minimize negative user experiences.

According to a Nov. 1, 2022, press release from KSU, Prabhakar, who is the Peggy and Gary Edwards chair in engineering received the award to design a tool that highlights changes between different versions of machine learning software systems with the goal of reducing negative experiences by users.

Prabhakar is currently on sabbatical from KSU to be a program director at the  National Science Foundation. She was one of 74 recipients of the awards from Amazon, which also includes an unrestricted gift, access to more than 300 Amazon public datasets, and Amazon Web Services’ artificial intelligence and machine learning services and tools, the press release said.

“The broad objective of the project is to automatically characterize how much two versions of machine learning-based systems are similar or different,” Prabhakar is quoted saying in the KSU press release. “These systems are regularly retrained to achieve superior performance; however, this does not often translate to a better user experience,” she said, adding, “This can be mitigated by equipping the design team with an automated tool that could highlight where and by how much the systems changed between different versions, thereby aiding the team in making decisions regarding the acceptability of the changes from a user experience perspective.”

Prabhakar did her PhD in computer science and a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She also did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Mathematics of Information in the California Institute of Technology.

She is the recipient of several prestigious awards and her work has been recognized by leading institutions in the U.S. and abroad, the press release noted (



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