Kien Nguyen is a graduate student pursuing his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, under the supervision of Professor Cyrus Shahabi. He received his Degree of Engineer from Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Vietnam) in 2013. Upon graduation, he was a Research Scientist in the Research and Development Department of VNG Corporation in Vietnam, conducting research on data mining and recommender systems for online social networks. He is interested in spatial-temporal data mining, privacy, machine learning, and their applications.




Research Interests

My research focuses on spatial-temporal data mining, privacy, machine learning , but not limited.


  • "A Secure Location-based Alert System with Tunable Privacy-Performance Trade-off", Gabriel Ghinita, Kien Nguyen, Mihai Maruseac, Cyrus Shahabi, GeoInformatia 2020 ([link, pdf, (code is coming)])
  • "A Privacy-Preserving, Accountable and Spam-Resilient Geo-Marketplace", Kien Nguyen, Gabriel Ghinita, Muhammad Naveed, Cyrus Shahabi, ACM SIGSPATIAL GIS 2019 (acceptance rate 21%) ([link, pdf, code]).
  • "Artificial Intelligence for Improving Access to Sexual Health Necessities for Youth Experiencing Homelessness", Aida Rahmattalabi, Laura Onasch-Vera, Orlando Roybal, Kien Nguyen, Luan Tran, Robin Petering, Eric Rice, Milind Tambe, In Tambe, M., & Rice, E. (Eds.), Artificial Intelligence and Social Work, Artificial Intelligence for Social Good, chapter, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018 (book).
  • "Los Angeles Metro Bus Data Analysis Using GPS Trajectory and Schedule Data (Demo Paper)", Kien Nguyen, Jingyun Yang, Yijun Lin, Jianfa Lin, Yao-Yi Chiang, Cyrus Shahabi, ACM SIGSPATIAL GIS 2018. ([link, pdf]).
  • "Differentially Private Publication of Location Entropy", Hien To*, Kien Nguyen*, Cyrus Shahabi, ACM SIGSPATIAL GIS, 2016 (acceptance rate 18%) ([link, pdf, code]) (*equal contribution).
  • Exploiting Direct and Indirect Information for Friend Suggestion in ZingMe, Kien Duy Nguyen, Tuan Pham Minh, Quang Nhat Nguyen and Thanh Trung Nguyen, NIPS 2013 workshop on Frontiers of Network Analysis: Methods, Models, and Applications, 2013 [link].

Research experiences

  • Research Assistant at the University of Southern California:
    • Geospatial Data, Data Mining, Privacy-Preserving Data Analytics
  • Software Engineer Intern at Facebook:
    • Summer 2020, Applied Privacy Tech team
  • Research Intern at Microsoft Research, Redmond:
    • Summer 2019
  • Research scientist at VNG Corporation:
    • July 2012 - present
    • Recommender systems: friend, news, group, blog recommendations to millions of users on ZingMe.
      • Friend recommendation: to integrate various information sources such as network topology, node attributes, edge attributes to recommend potential friends to users, we built for each target user a separate local relationship graph and used a linear combination of features from various sources to assign a weight for each edge. We then run Random Walk with Restart on the local graphs and integrated the stationary distribution of the walk with the mutual information between the target user and candidates to determine the potential that they become friends.
      • News recommendation: to recommend news, which users share on ZingMe or which from other sources, to users, we used Latent Dirichlet Allocation to discovery hidden topics of a news, considered topics of a user as a combination of topics of news that user viewed, and recommended to users some news with matched topics.
    • Spatial indexing for mobile users on Zing Me.
  • Intern at VNG Corporation:
    • September 2011 - February 2012
    • Recommender systems: friend recommendation
    • Weighted finite-state transducer for Vietnamese diacritic correction problem

Teaching Experience

  • Introduction to Software Development, Fall 2015 - Spring 2017
  • Machine Learning for Data Informatics, Fall 2015.


  • Blockchain Technology and Applications, Spring 2018
  • Introduction to Online Learning, Fall 2017
  • Artificial Intelligence for Social Good, Spring 2017
  • Advanced Analysis of Algorithms, Spring 2017
  • Machine Learning, Fall 2016
  • Privacy in the World of Big Data, Spring 2016
  • Geospatial Information Management, Fall 2015

Independent courses

  • Machine Learning (online certificate), by Prof. Andrew Ng.
  • Convex Optimization (online certificate), by Prof. Stephen Boyd.
  • Probabilistic Graphical Models (online certificate), by Prof. Daphne Koller
  • VIASM Summer School 2012 mini-course: Modern statistical method in machine learning:
    • Clustering problems, mixture models and Bayesian non-parametrics, by Prof. XuanLong Nguyen.
    • Statistical machine learning for High dimensional data, by Prof. John Lafferty.

Technical skills

  • Geospatial Data Management, Machine Learning, Differential Privacy, Searchable encryption, Digital commitment, Blockchain
  • Java, Python, C/C++, Swift/Objective-C, Kotlin, Matlab, SQL

Honors and Awards

  • NSF Student Travel Awards, 2019
  • NSF Student Travel Awards, 2018
  • NSF Student Travel Awards, 2016
  • The First Prize in Vietnam Olympiad in Informatics, 2007
  • The Second Prize in Vietnam Olympiad in Informatics, 2008
  • Odon Vallet scholarship, 2007.