Nickvash Kani

Affiliations. Research Assistant Profressor at UIUC, Head of MLP-group


265 Coordinated Science Lab

1308 W Main St

Urbana, IL 61801

I am a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I have a research group and a course that I have taught from Fall 2020 - Fall 2023. You can find link below (images are links).

My research can be best described by the umbrella phrase of Mathematical Language Processing. While researchers have spent the last few decades creating algorithms and systems that can better process natural language (e.g., English, German, etc.) texts, mathematical data has received far less attention. This is unfortunate because true intelligence, the type of intelligence current AI researchers want to create, is not mimicry or remixing known literature. True intelligence is axiomatic. It is reasoning; it is the ability to see that if A=B and B=C, then A must equal C. Mathematics is the language of axiomatic knowledge, and by focusing on mathematical literature, we can generate knowledge axioms from unlabeled literature, enabling the automated collection of axiomatic knowledge. I advise a group of brilliant young researchers dedicated to this problem. Please visit us at the Mathematical Language Processing Group!

As far as teaching goes, I understand the expectation for professors/teachers is to espouse the importance-of and passion-for teaching, but my personal view of this matter is much simpler: teaching is my job, and it is important to do it to the absolute best of my ability. And to do anything well, there is one strategy that has been proven to work: slow, iterative changes. Every semester, I enact policies and create new content or revise content to make the course more accessible to students and to support their overall learning objectives in this field of study. For the past three years, I have taught ECE 374 - Introduction to Algorithms and Models of Computation and for the majority of that time, I was/am the sole professor in a 200-300 student course consisting of two lectures and two discussion sections per week. As a result, my teaching experience and philosophy are largely geared toward large, STEM-based courses. Feel free to visit the ECE374 Course Website Periodically, I will make blog posts about what I have learned about teaching so stay tuned!


Aug 22, 2023 I am honored to receive the George Anner Excellence in Undergrad Teaching Award. This award was determine by a faculty panel using multiple factors, but I was only eligible because my amazing students and advisees nominated me. I owe you guys big.
May 29, 2023 I have received the 2023 Engineering Council Outstanding Advisors award. I am so grateful to all of you for your many nominations. I’ve been truly blessed to be surrounded for so many smart and hard-working individuals and hope that we can all keep working hard and keep winning/publishing even more.

selected publications

  1. Factors That Influence Automatic Recognition of African-American Vernacular English in Machine-Learning Models
    Emma Hamel, and Nickvash Kani
    IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, 2023
  2. Semantic Representations of Mathematical Expressions in a Continuous Vector Space
    Neeraj Gangwar, and Nickvash Kani
    Transactions on Machine Learning Research, 2023
  3. Highlighting Named Entities in Input for Auto-formulation of Optimization Problems
    Neeraj Gangwar, and Nickvash Kani
    In International Conference on Intelligent Computer Mathematics, 2023