About Me

My name is Xiaodan Zhang and you can call me Sally. I am currently working at Apple, Inc. as a Software Engineer/Data Scientist in Santa Clara Valley, CA.
In December 2015, I graduated with a Master of Science in Computer Science degree from Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). My research interest included Text Mining and Information Retrieval. My thesis advisor was Professor Chengxiang Zhai.
In May 2014, I graduated with Distinction of Bachelor's degree in Statistics and Computer Science from UIUC, along with a Math Minor and Informatics Minor.

Latest News

Work Experience

Apple, Inc.

Software EngineerCupertino, CA February 2016 - Present

  • I work for Apple.
  • I am a big fan of Apple products.

Department of Computer Science

Teaching Assistant Champaign, IL August 2015 - December 2015

  • Intro to Computer Science course (CS 105) is for non-engineering majors which covers:
    Programming - Scratch; basic algorithms and data structures (arrays, searching, and sorting, etc.)
    Data Use and Manipulation - HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Microsoft Excel
    Data Visualization - JSON data representation, d3.js
  • Led 2 labs and held office hours every week to help students who hAD questions regarding the course materials
  • Answered questions on Piazza and created exam questions

Groupon, Inc.

Software Engineering InternPalo Alto, CA June 2015 - August 2015

  • Worked on the Fraud Prevention engineering team to drive the strategy for building the backend infrastructure of the anti-fraud platform across all of Groupon using Ruby on Rails and RSpec
  • Worked on fraud data analysis to evaluate two models for classifying Groupon Local purchases as fraud/non-fraud using various kinds of ETL frameworks and tools including Splunk, Hadoop, Teradata, Accertify, Python/Bash/SQL, etc.
  • Worked on a GeekOn Hackathon project, AL, an experience package recommendation system built with AngularJS, Jetty web socket and Knapsack approximation algorithm (Top 3 of Palo Alto office local finalists)
  • Invited to write a #GrouponU Intern Blog

Department of Computer Science

Teaching Assistant Champaign, IL August 2014 - May 2015

  • Helped monitor student teams and their progress in Senior Project I (CS 492) and Senior project II (CS 493)
  • Met with teams regularly to talk about their technical designs, plans and the software development process

BazaarVoice, Inc.

Software Engineer Intern Austin, TX June 2014 - August 2014

  • Worked on Data Services team to help rebuild the Universal Brand Catalog that enables content moderators to view brand candidates and validate their legitimacy alongside validating their associated synonyms
  • Worked as a data wrangler to clean, transform, group and analyze brand data using Python and text mining techniques
  • Web Crawled brand name lists using Scrapy framework
  • Worked on back-end to design and implemented API definitions using Java and Dropwizard framework
  • Built, released and deployed the project using Jenkins

NeuStar, Inc.

Data Science Intern (Innovation Center) Champaign, IL June 2013 - May 2014

  • Analyzed large scale DNS traffic data stored in the Hadoop cluster using HiveQL, Python, Shell scripts
  • Wrote Hive UDFs in Java to process several fields
  • Visualized the data in Tableau by creating geographical heat maps, bar charts, pie charts, etc.
  • Built a DNS Dashboard for displaying plots generated by Tableau of major characteristics and descriptive statistics like Traffic, Response time, Response rate based on different Domains and Nodes
  • Utilized Machine Learning techniques to build models for detecting DDoS attacks

Department of Computer Science

Undergraduate Research Student Champaign, IL August 2012 - August 2013

  • Took part in a scientific computing project about Topology of Relations with hands-on instructions
  • Did data analysis and integration by writing scripts in Python and plotting graphs with Matplotlib
  • Read papers about Topological Data Analysis in sports

Department of Computer Science

CS357 Numerical Analysis I Grader Champaign, IL January 2012 - December 2012

  • Graded the written homework, programming assignments (in Python/Matlab), and projects of over 150 students who were enrolled in CS357 for two semesters
  • Answered students' questions about assignments in Piazza course group

Irwin Academic Services Center

Tutor Champaign, IL September 2011 - May 2012

  • Tutored for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics in CHEM, CS, STAT, and PHYS courses
  • Helped improve student-athlete’s performance in the classroom by teaching them efficient ways of learning materials in class



University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Master of Science in Computer Science Champaign, IL December 2015

  • Research Interest: Information Retrieval, Natural Language Processing and Text Mining
  • Awarded 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration Scholar from Anita Borg Institute.
  • Fall ’15 CS Grad Ambassador of Department of Computer Science at UIUC.
  • Teaching Assistant for Senior Project I (Fall 2014) and II (Spring 2015).
  • Research Assistant in Text Information Management and Analysis Group (TIMAN) at UIUC.
  • Awarded 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration Sponsorship from Bazaarvoice Inc. :)
  • Awarded Fall 2014 Conference Travel Grant from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Graduate College.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Computer Science Champaign, IL May 2014


Coursera Online Education

Motivated Self-learner Urbana, IL October 2012 - Present


High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China (中国人民大学附属中学, "人大附中", RDFZ)

High School Diploma in Science Beijing, China June 2010

  • One of the most prestigious high schools in Beijing, and even in China.
  • I attended RDFZ for both middle school and high school from Sep 2004 to June 2010.
  • Activities: Student Union, RDFZ Volunteer Group, 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Transportation Volunteer, etc.
  • Honors: Excellent Student Awards, 2nd place in Beijing 8th Grade Mathematics Contest, etc.

I love life <3

  • Jun 2010. Attended China National Higher Education Entrance Examination (a.k.a. Gaokao, 高考). @Beijing, China.
  • Jun 2010. With our lovely Principal Pengzhi Liu (刘彭芝) at RDFZ. @Beijing, China.
  • Aug 2012. Dancing on the grass in front of our hotel. A beautiful day! @Rhode Island.
  • Jan 2012. Playing Ping Pong @Groupon, Palo Alto.
  • Jan 2012. UIUC Silicon Valley Entrepreneurial Workshop @San Francisco, CA.
  • Jun 2014. Appreciating arts at Castle Hill Graffiti. @Austin, TX.
  • Jun 2014. Bazaarvoice Global All-hands Meeting!
        With Manny, Bridget and Ellen :) @Austin, TX.
  • Jun 2014. Bazaarvoice Global All-hands Meeting with amazing interns! @Austin, TX.
  • Jul 2014. Kayaking on Barton Creek Springs. @Austin, TX.
  • Aug 2014. Watched Guardians of the Galaxy at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema with interns. @Austin, TX.
  • Aug 2014. Team Lunch at Franklin BBQ! No.1 BBQ in the US! @Austin, TX.
  • Aug 2014. Playing golf at Top Golf Austin! @Austin, TX.
  • Aug 2014. With awesome Data Services interns at 360 (Pennybacker) Bridge Overlook! @Austin, TX.
  • Aug 2014. Dinner at Xian Sushi and Noodle restaurant. Love the foods! @Austin, TX.
  • Aug 2014. With Anna at "Meet and Greet" New Grad BBQ. @UIUC.
  • Oct 2014. With awesome CEO & President of ABI, Telle Whitney at 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration @Phoenix, AZ.
  • Oct 2014. I love Cactus! @Phoenix, AZ.
  • Oct 2014. With Ellen and Neha at 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration Party! @Phoenix, AZ.
  • Oct 2014. With UIUC WCS girls at 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration! @Phoenix, AZ.
  • Dec 2014. With Barbara and Androids! @Google, Mountain View.
  • Oct 2016. With Apple GHC team at 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration! @Houston, TX.
  • Dec 2016. Volunteering and inspiring kids at Lairon College Preparatory Academy for 2016 Hour of Code week. I was giving a talk to the kids who participated in CyberPatriot, the National Youth Cybersecurity Competition, about my experince as a CS student and a Software Engineer in Tech! @San Jose, CA.
  • Dec 2016. Before the snow machine tour @Fairbanks, AK.
  • Jan 2017. With the Bear 🐻. @Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Get In Touch.

Thanks for stopping by my personal website!    
If you are interested or have any questions, please feel free to contact me! :)