Tianyu Zhang

Tianyu Photo

Tianyu Zhang, PhD

I'm a Post-doc,AI Research Scientist at the,at University of Alberta,Autodesk.


Tianyu Photo

Tianyu is a post-doc/AI Research Scientist with a primary focus on designing occupant-centric control algorithms for buildings using learning-based approaches. His research is driven by the urgency of addressing the challenges posed by carbon neutrality and the need for energy-saving solutions, even when faced with limited training data.

Within his research area, Tianyu has extensively explored various aspects, including sensor fusion, simulation environment design and implementation, transfer learning, diversity-induced reinforcement learning, multi-agent reinforcement learning, and combinatorial optimization. His expertise spans these domains, allowing him to tackle complex problems from different angles.

Recognized for his outstanding academic performance, Tianyu was awarded the Alberta Graduate Excellent Scholarship during his Ph.D. program. Moreover, his master's thesis was acknowledged as the runner-up for the departmental graduate award in 2020, specifically the outstanding MSc thesis award, with the second position.

What's new?

  • January 2024 - I'll be joining the Autodesk AI research team led by Dr. Tonya Cutsis in March 2024!
  • December 2023 - I passed my PhD final exam. Big shout out to my advisor, Prof. Omid Ardakanian for his invaluable guidance!
  • June 2023 - Our eEnergy workshop paper got accepted!
  • May 2023 - We presented a poster on UpperBound AI week.
  • May 2023 - Our journal paper is accepted! Check out why we should learn suboptimal policies.
  • April 2023 - Congrats Abilmansur for his first paper!
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2019 - 2023

Doctor of Philosophy

University logo University of Alberta
Department of Computing Science

Advisor: Dr. Omid Ardakanian

Thesis Title: Data-Enabled Optimization of Building Operations*

*Nominated for Departmental Outstanding PhD of Science Thesis Award

Research topic: Energy-efficient smart buildings

My research is inter-disciplinary and utilizes different techniques from machine learning, control systems and communication networks. It could produce innovative data-driven solutions for optimizing the energy consumption of buildings in the context of a smart city.

Expected Graduation: August 2023

2017 - 2019

Master of Science

University logo University of Alberta
Department of Computing Science

Advisor: Dr. Omid Ardakanian

Thesis Title: Building Occupancy and Thermal Modelling in the Wild*

*Departmental Outstanding Master of Science Thesis Award Runner Up

2013 - 2017

Bachelor of Science with Honors

University logo University of Alberta
Department of Computing Science

Three ACM ICPC Regional medals.

2021 May - 2021 December

Associate Researcher

Huawei Canada (Part-time)

Design a workflow for user to evaluate the robustness of their machine learning classifier. Investigate the application of Reinforcement learning in the domain of Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP), specifically the application of variable selection in Branch-and-Bound method.

2017 September - Present

Research Assistant

University of Alberta (Part-time)

Assists with academic research include but are not limited to editing and preparing manuscripts, producing academic papers, performing research work in archives, analyzing data, and developing models.

2017 September - Present

Teaching Assistant

University of Alberta (Part-time)

CMPUT 379 - Operating System Concepts
This course covers the design and implementation of operating systems, and operating systems concepts that appear in other distributed systems.

CMPUT 366 - Reinforcement Learning
This course provides an introduction to reinforcement learning intelligence, which focuses on the study and design of agents that interact with a complex, uncertain world to achieve a goal.

CMPUT 272 - Formal Systems and Logic
This course introduces the fundamentals of discrete mathematics and then use that knowledge to solve problems and communicate the correctness of the solutions.

2019 September - 2021 April

Library Back-End Programmer

University of Alberta (Part-time)

Deal with university publications. This includes organizing files stored on OpenStack Swift and MySQL entries, structuring and uploading items to the university production server using Ruby on Rails. Uploading items to the Internet Archive.


  • Everything
  • Refereed Papers
  • Preprints
  • Theses
  • Presentations

Refereed Papers




  • Modeling and Simulation Studies and Tools: Co-simulation Platform for Occupant-centric Control of Buildings, 6th International Symposium on Occupant Behaviour, September 2020.


My supreme supervisor

Omid Ardakanian

Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta
My beloved girlfriend

Yang Liu

Graduate Student at UNSW
My MVP colleague

Aakash Krishna G.S.

M.Sc. Student at the University of Alberta
My MVP colleague

Abdullah Al Zishan

Senior Software Engineer at AMD


  • University of Alberta Departmental Outstanding PhD Thesis Award Nomination
  • 2023
  • Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship ($12,000)
  • 2022-2023
  • University of Alberta Mary Louise Imrie Graduate Student Award ($3,000)
  • 2019 & 2022
  • NeurIPS ML4CO Competition Dual Task Runner-up
  • 2021
  • University of Alberta Departmental Outstanding Master Thesis Award Runner Up (2nd place)
  • 2020
  • University of Alberta Graduate Student Teaching Award
  • April 2020
  • North America ACM-ICPC Regional Contest Silver Medal
  • 2017
  • North America ACM-ICPC Regional Contest Bronze Medal
  • 2015 & 2016

Get In Touch

I'm looking for any collaboration opportunities!

Please send me an email if you are interested. 👋

Email: tianyu[dot]zhang[at]ualberta[dot]ca

Mailing Address: Athabasca Hall, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E8