Getting to Know Aurick Qiao

Our team at Petuum is made up of incredibly talented people. This series will feature the engineers, managers, and creators that keep our company moving forward and make us proud of the work we do together.

Aurick is Director of AI/ML Operating Systems at Petuum. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where he researches resource adaptability and elasticity for distributed machine learning systems. Before Petuum and CMU, Aurick studied computer science and combinatorics & optimization at the University of Waterloo, where he also researched multi-pivot quicksort. In the past, Aurick was also successful in competitive programming.


Why did you join Petuum?

Data comes in many different types and forms and this creates very challenging real-world use cases for deploying ML over distributed systems. The work at Petuum explores intersections of a lot of really exciting areas, like combining distributed systems and machine learning (ML) in order to run interesting new algorithms over vast amounts of data.

I wanted to be a part of that excitement, so I joined the company to help bring our solutions to the market.

What do you do at Petuum?

I am responsible for leading an engineering team in developing a data center operating system and infrastructure for ML solutions. I work with a lot of really talented systems engineers to build a platform that can run on any hardware efficiently.

Aurick in Yosemite, California in June 2014.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on at Petuum?

The data center OS that we are developing is very unique and something that no one has tackled before, so we’re actually creating a whole new set of abstractions and concepts. It’s allowed me to exercise my creativity and it’s been thrilling to work on something so groundbreaking.

What’s been most challenging in your work so far?

Startup life is tough. The sheer amount of work we have to do is incredible. We have to build new systems and new components, and we need to expand our team very aggressively to do so.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing similar work?

There is a lot of opportunity to dive into this kind of work, from companies like Petuum to research labs. The overlap of ML and systems is an area that’s quickly becoming popular, and new communities and projects are emerging all over the place. Getting involved with some of those new projects would be a great first step. For those who are interested, Petuum takes interns!

A photo by Aurick while kayaking in Ross Lake in Washington in July 2013.

What do you love to do outside of work?

I really enjoy water sports and any kind of outdoor activity! I used to swim competitively in school, and now I enjoy swimming casually. I also love kayaking, rock climbing, and bouldering.

Last year, I visited one of Pennsylvania’s parks and had a great time kayaking around a lake. I would love to someday go kayaking in Alaska, Iceland, or Peru.


We’re hiring! We’re growing quickly and looking for highly trained and talented technical staff, including engineers, architects, and more. Contact us at careers@petuum.com.