Getting to Know Ya Xu

August 20, 2015

Talent is LinkedIn’s number one operating priority and we have no shortage of talented individuals in technical roles across the company. These are the folks that create, build and maintain our platform, tools and features - as well as write the posts for this blog. We are featuring some of the people and personalities that make LinkedIn great.

Name: Ya Xu
LinkedIn profile:
Position: Senior Staff Research Engineer

Ya has been working in the domain of A/B testing for over 5 years. She has built and led the experimentation team @ LinkedIn, with the mission to not only create a world-class A/B testing platform, but to create an experimentation ecosystem where people, process and platform can work tightly together to truly accelerate innovation through A/B testing. Before LinkedIn, she worked at Microsoft Bing where she focused on advancing A/B methodologies. She holds a PhD in Statistics from Stanford University, and is a frequent speaker at top-tier conferences worldwide, including WWW, WSDM, KDD and RecSys.

What is something not found on your LinkedIn profile?
I’ve spent almost half of my life living outside of my hometown Sichuan (China), but my passion for spicy Sichuan food never faded. Unlike most people, I don’t crave ice cream, I dream about Sichuan-style spicy hotpot.

What are your favorite things to do when you’re not at the office?
I love being active and outdoors with my husband and two kids, whether it is jogging, hiking or just relaxing on the beach.

What’s your favorite thing about working at LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a company that truly empowers its employees. I was impressed by it the first day, and I continue to be impressed every day I’m here.

What do you do best at work?
I’m a statistician, so I’m into anything data related really. A lot of my work consists of bridging science and engineering to create impactful results. I’m a strong believer in data-driven decisions, which – paired with my background in statistics and experimental design – led me to my deep involvement in A/B testing.

What do you love most about software engineering?
I really like to see the direct impact of my work, which is the main reason that I chose to work in business instead of academia after my PhD, and engineering is all about making things happen.

What tools do you use every day at LinkedIn?
XLNT, of course. It is our end-to-end A/B testing platform. There are about 400 experiments run daily on the platform. My team works closely with feature teams on experimental design and analysis the most complex ones.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Education. Part of my work is to educate and train our employees to learn best practices about A/B testing so they can run quality experiments. We hold education series every quarter and office-hours everyday. I’m constantly looking for more effective ways to make the knowledge stick.