Teller was born in Cambridge, England and raised in Evanston, Illinois. He is the son of Paul Teller, who was an instructor in the philosophy of science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chantal DeSoto, a buyer and clothing designer for Sears who later became a teacher of gifted children. His grandparents include both French economist and mathematician Gérard Debreu and Hungarian-born American theoretical physicist Edward Teller. He received the nickname “Astro” after high school friends compared his flat-top haircut to AstroTurf, and reportedly had the image of cartoon dog Astro from The Jetsons painted on his car door in college.

Teller holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Stanford University, Masters of Science in symbolic computation (symbolic and heuristic computation), also from Stanford University, and a PhD in artificial intelligence from Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a recipient of a Hertz fellowship. After working as a teacher at Stanford University, he became a business executive.