david minh-duy cao

computer science & ethnic studies

uc san diego



a picture of me, david cao!

heyo! I'm David, a fourth year undergrad at UC San Diego interested in the intersection of PL, HCI, and social justice.


Principles of Programming Languages (POPL) 2023

babble: Learning Better Abstractions with E-Graphs and Anti-Unification

David Cao*, Rose Kunkel*, Chandrakana Nandi, Max Willsey, Zachary Tatlock, Nadia Polikarpova

Humans are really good at library learning: finding common patterns in code and extracting them into a library of common abstractions. This problem has a bunch of use cases across FPGA design, program synthesis, and modeling human perception. So how can we get a computer to do this?

Building off of prior work in library learning and e-graphs, we contribute new algorithms for proposing candidate abstractions and choosing the best set. We improve on the prior state-of-the-art in compression and speed by several orders of magnitude!

Paper Slides (.key) Code (Github)

Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI) 2022

Type-Directed Program Synthesis for RESTful APIs

Zheng Guo, David Cao, Davin Tjong, Jean Yang, Cole Schlesinger, Nadia Polikarpova

Interacting with REST APIs can often be extremely unwieldy; APIs can have hundreds of methods, and may or may not be documented. We propose a system that can synthesize programs that call into REST APIs.


POPL 2021 • Student Research Competition, 2nd Prize

Automated Dependent Resource Analysis

David Cao, advised by Tristan Knoth and Nadia Polikarpova

When programming, it's useful to know the resource use of a program (in undergrad we take whole courses on this!). We contribute a system that can automatically infer resource bounds that can depend on the inputs of a program.

Abstract Virtual poster (video)


January 2023

Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Finalist

Computing Research Association


January 2022–Present

Campus Diversity Engagement Coordinator

SPACES at UC San Diego

SPACES is one of the last student-run, student-led college resource centers in the country, aimed at improving marginalized folks in San Diego's access to and retention in higher education. I've helped give Alternative Tours & Panels to hundreds of local high school and college students, which examine the ungarnished history of student activism and organizing here at UCSD.

SPACES Website

Photography & Videography

I do photography and videography on the side too! I've been doing macro and portrait photography since high school, and since starting my undergrad I've helped filmed/edit videos for live dance events and dance team concept videos.

see full photography/videography portfolio!


September 2020

seascape (ucsd cape eval analysis)

June 2020

ucsd wushu website

June 2020

defund sfpd now website