Alex's Answers to Common Emails

I have resigned myself to the fact that I don't have time to answer all of my professional email. If I ignore your message, it's probably because the answer is already on this page, which is divided into the following topics:

Admission to the Stanford or Berkeley Graduate Programs

I think the world of the Berkeley graduate program and highly recommend it. However, I am no longer on the faculty at Berkeley, and so I really have nothing to worthwhile to say about admission to the graduate program there.

The Stanford graduate program in computer science is also first rate. The only way to be admitted is to apply to either the PhD or Masters program. Admission is very competitive, since we receive many more qualified applicants than we can accept. PhD students are almost always guaranteed support by the department. Masters admits are rarely guaranteed financial support.

Admission decisions are made entirely by a faculty committee. Individual faculty members cannot accept students on their own.

Recommendation Letters

I am happy to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school for any student that I have taught in at least one class. While I will point out what I see as strengths in an application, I won't gloss over weaknesses either. As a rule of thumb, a letter may help you if you received an A or A+, though there have been cases where I felt I could write a strong letter for students whose grades were lower.

I need the following at least two weeks before the letter is due:


I receive many requests to sponsor professional visits, but I simply don't have the capacity to accept more than a very small number of visitors. I will not respond to enquiries about visits unless I think there is a chance that the visit could actually happen.


I generally don't respond to requests for help recruiting students into industry, though I will pass such requests along if I know a well-qualified candidate.