Jacob Steinhardt was born in Ithaca, New York, later moving to Massachusetts and finally to Fairfax County, Virginia, where he attended high school at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. While in high school, he participated in the United States Math, Physics, and Computing Olympiads, and was invited to the national training camp for all three. As a senior, he represented the United States at the International Olympiad in Informatics and placed 29th overall. He was also a co-captain of the math, physics, and computer science teams at Thomas Jefferson, where he gave lectures and helped other students to train for the Olympiads.
In June 2012, Jacob will receive his BS in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he continued to be involved in competitions. He represented MIT in the Putnam Mathematical Competition, placing among the top 15 students for three years in a row. He also acted as a coach for the USA Computing Olympiad and helped organize the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament, a bi-annual math competition for high school students both in the Boston area and around the world.
Jacob’s major interests shifted towards research, and specifically towards the question of which research was likely to have the largest future impact. After conducting research in mathematics, cognitive science, robotics, and machine learning, he decided that artificial intelligence was likely to be one of the most game-changing future technologies, and now devotes his time to studying how we can build computer systems that are as intelligent as humans, and how to ensure that such systems act in ways beneficial to society. He will present some of his work at the Fifteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics this April, and plans to continue this research in machine learning in graduate school. Jacob will attend Stanford University in the fall of 2012.
In his free time, Jacob likes to play ultimate frisbee and ice hockey.