Zhiyang Chen

I am a PhD student at University of Toronto, supervised by Prof. Fan Long.

I also work as a part-time Research Engineer at Zircuit. Previously I also worked at Quantstamp.

My current research focus on Smart Contract Security and Program Synthesis. I'm generally interested in Programming Languages, Software Engineering Security and Distributed Systems.

Prior than that, I was luckily advised by Prof. Xinyu Wang at UMich, we worked on multiple program synthesis projects.

Email  /  Github  /  Twitter

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  • University of Toronto
    PhD in Computer Science, 2026(Expected)
    Advisor: Prof. Fan Long
  • University of Toronto
    MSc in Computer Science, 2023
    Advisor: Prof. Fan Long
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    B.S.E in Computer Science, minor in Mathematics, Summa Cum Laude, Sept 2019 - May 2021
    Advisor: Prof. Xinyu Wang
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
    B.S.E in Electrical and Computer Engineering, minor in Entrepreneurship, Sept 2017 - Aug 2021
Publications in Academia

Zhiyang Chen, Ye Liu, Sidi Mohamed Beillahi, Yi Li, Fan Long, “Demystifying Invariant Effectiveness for Securing Smart Contracts(FSE 2024) [paper] [artifact] [benchmarks] [invariant study results]

Zhiyang Chen, Sidi Mohamed Beillahi, Fan Long, “FlashSyn: Flash Loan Attack Synthesis via Counter Example Driven Approximation(ICSE 2024) [paper] [extended paper] [artifact]

Tianyi Zhang, Zhiyang Chen, Yuanli Zhu, Priyan Vaithilingam, Xinyu Wang, Elena L. Glassman, “Interpretable Program Synthesis”, Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(CHI 2021) [paper] [video] [artifact]

Publications in Industry

Martin Derka, Jan Gorzny, Diego Siqueira, Donato Pellegrino, Marius Guggenmos, Zhiyang Chen, “Sequencer Level Security" [paper]

Research Projects
Runtime Guard Synthesis to Stop Hacks on the Fly
Accepted to FSE 2024

With Dr. Ye Liu, Prof. Yi Li, Prof. Fan Long and Dr. Sidi Mohamed Beillahi

Smart contract transactions associated with security attacks often exhibit distinct behavioral patterns compared with historical benign transactions before the attacking events. While many runtime monitoring and guarding mechanisms have been proposed to validate invariants and stop anomalous transactions on the fly, the empirical effectiveness of the invariants used remains largely unexplored. We developed a tool which dynamically generates new invariants customized for a given contract based on its historical transaction data.

Flashloan Attack Synthesis
Accepted to ICSE 2024, adopted by Quantstamp

With Prof. Fan Long and Dr. Sidi Mohamed Beillahi

This project aims to build the first end-to-end program synthesis tool to detect flash loan attack vulnerabilities and automatically synthesize a profitable transition as proofs. Since executing smart contracts in a forked environment is notoriously slow, we propose a technique to speculate execution results locally. Our tool is evaluated in many flash loan attacks in the history of Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain.

Accelerate Regular Expresssion Synthesis via Subexpression Queries
Individual research project of EECS499

with Prof. Xinyu Wang


In this project, I proposed an algorithm to synthesize the most probable sub- expressions of the ground-truth regular expressions based on input-output examples. I evaluated and testified the effectiveness of sub-expression queries to accelerate regular expression synthesis.

Interpretable Program Synthesis
CHI '21: Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

with Prof. Tianyi Zhang, Prof. Xinyu Wang, Prof. Elena Glassman

pdf     video     code

We propose a novel approach that unveils the synthesis process and enables users to monitor and guide the synthesis. We designed three representations that explain the underlying synthesis process with different levels of fidelity.

Real-Time and Virtual Driving Simulator
Project of Multidisciplinary Design Program

with Prof. Paul Green

2-min presentation slides     code

We built a GUI tool to help human-vehicle interaction researchers design and conduct traffic experiments with CARLA real-time driving simulator.

  • The Mitacs Accelerate Fellow with Bank of Canada, University of Toronto, 2023-2024
  • The Wolfond Scholarship in Wireless Information Technology, University of Toronto, 2021
  • Outstanding graduate of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2021
  • James B. Angell Scholar, UMich, 2021
Fun Facts About Me:
Service and Volunteer Activities
  • Member, Artifact Evaluation Program Committee, PLDI 2024
  • Teaching Assistant of CSC108, CSC263, CSC373, CSC488(as head TA) at UofT
  • Grader of MATH 214 Linear Algebra, UMich, Fall 2020.
  • Tau Beta Phi-Michigan Gamma, elected in Nov 2020 (attending a series of K12 and professional activities)

Homepage credits: Jon Barron.