For prospective graduate (Masters, or PhD) students

I am by no means desperate to get more students. Thus, if your background and experience is obviously not a good match, save time for both of us, and do not email me (if you made it to Alberta, feel free to send me an email anyways).

On the necessary background

I am working on RL theory and I am looking for students with relevant background and experience only. I will not accept students who fail to demonstrate this.

You may be a straight A+ student at a good university, but, sadly, this is not sufficient for me to be interested in working with you. How can you start working with me?

Option 1: Through a Masters program

Steps before getting here:

  • Read my papers; learn what I am interested in

  • Be able to explain results from my papers to me

Next, get accepted into our thesis based Masters program. Once here, take the following steps:

  • Take a graduate course with me and be on the top of the class

  • Join our research group's team meetings, read and present relevant research papers

  • Ask (even better, answer) good questions (we have a discussion forum on slack)

Option 2: Through the PhD program

I only accept PhD students who did not work with me before (as part of their Masters) if one or more of the following conditions is satisfied:

  • You wrote one or more (theory) papers I like

  • You come with the recommendation of someone (usually, prof) whom I trust

Should you write me an email?

First of all, see above. If your background is not a good match, do not bother. You will waste your time and mine. I receive too many emails which are just a generic enquire, with minimum personalization. Either I will not reply to these emails, or you will get an equally generic template reply. The replies are copied below, so you can save time for both of us but not sending me these generic emails. To prove that you care, include in the subject of your email “jo diak”; then you may get more attention. Some further rules about sending me emails are as follows:

  • I welcome emails of students accepted to the UofA if the email pertains research, especially if they propose a research topic (relevant to my research focus).

  • Regarding remote supervision: The same rules apply as above. I don't have unlimited time, so sadly, I cannot just accept all opportunities to work together. I would only do this if I am convinced that the cooperation is mutually beneficial (i.e., I also gain something). Again, for this, you would need to have evidence (see above) that proves your ability to work on theory.

  • I will only care about the email of an incoming grad student if the email explicitly mentions the how the student qualifies per the two “options” mentioned above and this webpage.

  • Finally, I am not an expert on legal topics (e.g., immigration) or financial support, so don't ask me about these (hint on financial support: Canadian grad students get enough support to survive with no external loans). There is good information about these on the official websites.

Generic reply to generic email enquires about MSc positions

Thanks for reaching out. You may find useful information on my homepage at Once you studied my homepage, feel free to send me another email that satisfies the requirements laid out there. I hope this makes sense. Best, Csaba

Generic reply to generic email enquires about PhD positions

Thanks for reaching out.

I am on a leave from the university and as such I will only take students if any under extremely exceptional circumstances, e.g., when the student did a lot of work in my closer area of research and have in particularly published papers at either COLT or ICML or NIPS in these topics.

Sorry for not bringing the news that you may have hoped for. But I encourage you to reach out to my colleagues at the university who may share your interests.

Best, Csaba