Jennifer Tour Chayes

Jennifer Tour Chayes is a Technical Fellow and Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she founded in 2008, and Microsoft Research New York City, which she founded in 2012.[1] Chayes is best known for her work on phase transitions in discrete mathematics and computer science, structural and dynamical properties of self-engineered networks, and algorithmic game theory. She is considered one of the world's experts in the modeling and analysis of dynamically growing graphs.[2] Chayes has been with Microsoft Research since 1997, when she co-founded the Theory Group. She received her Ph.D. in mathematical physics at Princeton University in 1983. She is Affiliate Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Washington, and was for many years Professor of Mathematics at UCLA. She is an author on almost 120 scientific papers and the inventor on more than 25 patents. She has accepted an offer from the University of California, Berkeley to become the campus's Associate Provost for the Division of Data Science and Information and Dean of the School of Information. Her tenure with UC Berkeley is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2020.

Jennifer Tour Chayes
in 2017
Alma materWesleyan University
Princeton University
Known forphase transitions
discrete mathematics
graph theory
game theory
Scientific career
Theoretical computer science
InstitutionsUC Berkeley (Starting 2020)
Microsoft Research New England
Microsoft Research New York City
Cornell University
Harvard University
ThesisThe Inverse Problem, Plaquette Percolation and a Generalized Potts Model (1983)
Doctoral advisorElliott H. Lieb
Michael Aizenman

Early life and education

Chayes was born in New York City[1] and grew up in White Plains, N.Y., the child of Iranian immigrants. She received her B.A. in Biology and Physics from Wesleyan University in 1979 where she graduated first in her class. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics at Princeton University. She did her postdoctoral work in the Mathematics and Physics departments at Harvard and Cornell. She moved to UCLA as a tenured Professor of Mathematics in 1987.

Career at Microsoft

While she was on sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1997, Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, a classmate of Chayes's from Princeton, asked her to start and lead the Theory Group at Microsoft Research Redmond.[3] The Theory Group analyzes fundamental questions in theoretical computer science using techniques from statistical physics and discrete mathematics. Chayes opened Microsoft Research New England in July 2008 with Borgs. The lab is located at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center and is pursuing new, interdisciplinary areas of research that bring together core computer scientists and social scientists to understand, model, and enable future computing and online experiences.[2] On May 3, 2012, the New York Times reported that, "Microsoft is opening a research lab in New York City…" which Chayes will co-manage.[4][5] The new lab also brings together computer scientists and social scientists, particularly in the areas of economics, computational and behavioral social sciences, and machine learning. Chayes is currently Managing Director of both Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City. She has contributed the development of methods to analyze the structure and behavior of various networks, the design of auction algorithms, and the design and analysis of various business models for the online world.


Chayes serves on numerous institute boards, advisory committees and editorial boards, including the Turing Award Selection Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Board of Trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics, the Advisory Boards of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Campus, and Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology. Chayes is a past Chair of the Mathematics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past Vice-President of the American Mathematical Society. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Sloan Fellowship, and the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award.[6][7][8][9]

Chayes is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Fields Institute, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Mathematical Society, as well as a National Associate of the National Academies. The Association for Women in Mathematics has included her in the 2020 class of AWM Fellows for "pioneering the way for women in the mathematical sciences to have leading technical roles in the high-tech industry; for extraordinary leadership and mentoring on behalf of women in the mathematical sciences".[10] She has been the recipient of many leadership awards, including one of the 2012 Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Awards. In 2019 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[11]

Chayes is featured in the Notable Women in Computing cards.[12]

Awards and honors

Personal life

Chayes married Christian Borgs in 1993 and was previously married to Lincoln Chayes whom she met at Wesleyan. She has had extremely successful collaborations with both her husbands; of her 94 papers in MathSciNet (as of February 2014), 51 are coauthored with Christian Borgs and 37 are coauthored with Lincoln Chayes.


  1. "Jennifer Tour Chayes CURRICULUM VITAE" (PDF). Microsoft Research. April 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  2. 2012 Women to Watch: Jennifer Chayes, Massachusetts High Tech. By Scott Pickering. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  3. "Lab of Ideas". Wesleyan Magazine. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. Microsoft Taps Yahoo Scientists for New York Research Lab, NYT. By Steve Lohr. Fifth, tenth and eleventh paragraphs. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  5. Microsoft Opens New York Research Lab, Hires Mainly Yahoo Researchers, CSO. By John Ribeiro. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  6. B. Bollobas; C. Borgs; J. Chayes; J.H. Kim; D.B. Wilson (May 2001), "The scaling window of the 2-SAT transition", Random Structures and Algorithms, 18 (3): 201–256, arXiv:math/9909031, doi:10.1002/rsa.1006
  7. Chayes, Jennifer; N. Berger; C. Borgs; R. D'Souza; R. D. Kleinberg (2007), Emergence of tempered preferential attachment from optimization, 104, pp. 6112–6117
  8. Chayes, Jennifer; R. Andersen; C. Borgs; U.Feige; A. Flaxman; A. Kalai; V. Mirrokni; M. Tennenholtz (2008), Trust-based recommendation systems: An axiomatic approach
  9. Chayes, Jennifer; M. Biskup; C. Borgs; L. Kleinwaks; Kotecky (2004), "Partition function zeros at first-order phase transitions: A general analysis", Communications in Mathematical Physics, 251 (1): 79–131, arXiv:math-ph/0304007, Bibcode:2004CMaPh.251...79B, doi:10.1007/s00220-004-1169-5
  10. 2020 Class of AWM Fellows, Association for Women in Mathematics, retrieved 2019-11-08
  11. "National Academy of Sciences Elects Members and Foreign Associates; Historic Number of Women Elected to Its Membership", News from the National Academy of Sciences, May 2, 2019
  12. "Notable Women in Computing".
  13. Chayes, Jennifer T. (1998). "Finite-size scaling in percolation". Doc. Math. (Bielefeld) Extra Vol. ICM Berlin, 1998, vol. III. pp. 113–122.
  14. ACM Names 41 Fellows from World's Leading Institutions: Many Innovations Made in Areas Critical to Global Competitiveness Archived 2012-04-28 at the Wayback Machine, ACM, December 7, 2010, retrieved 2011-11-20.
  15. List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.
  16. Anita Borg 2012 Winner of the ABIE Award Winner for Technical Leadership, retrieved 2017-06-26
  17. University of Leiden news retrieved 2017-06-26
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