Barriers To Accelerating The Training Of Artificial Neural Networks – A Systemic Perspective – Meet Manuel Muro

manuel-muroThe real breakthrough for the modern Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology explosions started back in 1943 when researchers McCulloch & Pitts came up with a mathematical model to represent that function of the biological neuron; nature’s gift that allows all life to operate and learn over time. Eventually this research would then give birth to the Artificial Neural Network (ANN).

Continue reading “Barriers To Accelerating The Training Of Artificial Neural Networks – A Systemic Perspective – Meet Manuel Muro”

Conducting a Data Science Contest in Your Organization w/ Ashutosh Sanzgiri

ashutosh-sanzgiriAshutosh Sanzgiri (@sanzgiri) is a Data Scientist at AppNexus, the world’s largest independent Online Advertising (Ad Tech) company. I develop algorithms for machine learning products and services that help digital publishers optimize the monetization of their inventory on the AppNexus platform.

Ashutosh has a diverse educational and career background. He’s attained a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, a Ph.D. in Particle Physics from Texas A&M University and he’s conducted Post-Doctoral research in Nuclear Physics at Yale University. In addition to these achievements Ashutosh also has a certificate in Computational Finance and an MBA from the Oregon Health & Sciences University.

Prior to joining AppNexus, Ashutosh has held positions in Embedded Software Development, Agile Project Management, Program Management and Technical Leadership at Tektronix, Xerox, Grass Valley and Nike.

Scaling Machine Learning (ML) at your organization means increasing ML knowledge beyond the Data Science (DS) department. Several companies have Data / ML literacy strategies in place, usually through an internal data science university or a formal training program. At AppNexus, we’ve been experimenting with different ways to expand the use of ML in our products and services and share responsibility for its evaluation. An internal contest adds a competitive element, and makes the learning process more fun. It can engage people to work on a problem that’s important to the company instead of working on generic examples (e.g. “cat vs dog” classification), and gives contestants familiarity with the tools used by the DS team.

In this talk, Ashutosh will present the experience of conducting a “Kaggle-style” internal DS contest at AppNexus. he’ll discuss our motivations for doing it and how we went about it. Then he’ll share the tools we developed to host the contest. The hope being you too will find inspiration to try something in your organization!

From Zero to Machine Learning for Everyone w/ Poul Peterson

poul-petersenBigML was founded in January 2011 in Corvallis, Oregon with the mission of making Machine Learning beautifully simple for everyone. We pioneered Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS), creating our platform that effectively lowers the barriers of entry to help organizations of all industries and sizes to adopt Machine Learning.

As a local company with a mission in complete alignment with that of the conference, BigML would be delighted to partake in this first edition of ML4ALL.

“So you’ve heard of Machine Learning and are eager to make data driven decisions, but don’t know where to start? The first step is not to read all the latest and greatest research in artificial intelligence, but rather to focus on the data you have and the decisions you want to make. Fortunately, this is easier than ever because platforms like BigML have commoditized Machine Learning, providing a consistent abstraction making it simple to solve use cases across industries, no Ph.D.s required.

As a practical, jump-start into Machine Learning, Poul Petersen, CIO of BigML, will demonstrate how to build a housing recommender system. In just 30 minutes, he will cover a blend of foundational Machine Learning techniques like classification, anomaly detection, clustering, association discovery and topic modeling to create an end-to-end predictive application. More importantly, using the availability of an API will make it easy to put this model into production, on stage, complete with a voice interface and a GUI. Learn Machine Learning and find a great home – all without paying expensive experts!”

Poul Petersen (@pejpgrep) is the Chief Infrastructure Officer at BigML. An Oregon native, he has an MS degree in Mathematics as well as BS degrees in Mathematics, Physics and Engineering Physics from Oregon State University. With 20 plus years of experience building scalable and fault-tolerant systems in data centers, Poul currently enjoys the benefits of programmatic infrastructure, hacking in python to run BigML with only a laptop and a cloud.


Your First NLP Machine Learning Project: Perks and Pitfalls of Unstructured Data w/ Anna Widiger

anna-widigerAnna Widiger (@widiger_anna) has a B.A. degree in Computational Linguistics from University of Tübingen. She’s been doing NLP since her very first programming assignment, specializing in Russian morphology, German syntax, cross-lingual named entity recognition, topic modeling, and grammatical error detection.

Anna describes “Your First NLP Machine Learning Project: Perks and Pitfalls of Unstructured Data” to us. Faced with words instead of numbers, many data scientists prefer to feed words straight from csv files into lists without filtering or transformation, but there is a better way! Text normalization improves the quality of your data for future analysis and increases the accuracy of your machine learning model.

Which text preprocessing steps are necessary and which ones are “nice-to-have” depends on the source of your data and the information you want to extract from it. It’s important to know what goes into the bag of words and what metrics are useful to compare word frequencies in documents. In this hands-on talk, I will show some do’s and don’ts for processing tweets, Yelp reviews, and multilingual news articles using spaCy.

Kubernetes 101 Workshop

Today I TA’d (Teacher’s Assistant) a course with Bridget at GOTO Chicago Conference. There were a number of workshops besides just the Kubernetes 101 like; Working Effectively with Legacy Code with Michael Feathers (@mfeathers), Estimates or NoEstimates with Woody Zuill (@WoodyZuill), Testing Faster with Dan North (@tastapod), Data Science and Analytics for Developers (Machine Learning) with Phil Winder (@DrPhilWinder), and so many others that I’d love to have multi-processed all at the same time! Digging through Kubernetes from a 101 course level was interesting, as I’ve never formally tried to educate myself about Kubernetes, just dove in. My own knowledge is very random about what I do or don’t know about, and a 101 course fills out some of the gaps for me.

The conference is located in a cool and sort of strange place for a conference, out kind of in the lake, called the Navy Pier. Honestly, I dig it, it’s a cool place for a conference. I enjoyed the ~15 minute walk from the hotel to the location too, because it’s right there on the tip of the pier, as shown in the fancy map below.


The workshop is going well. Bridget is filling up student’s brains and I’m going to dork around Kuberneting some Cassandra and Node.js for my talk. I’m pretty stoked as the talk has given me a good excuse to delve into some Node.js again, from a nodal systemic viewpoint, “Node Systems for Node.js Services on Nodes of Systemic Nodal Systems” this Thursday.

Geek Train from Seattle to Portland

April 12th-14th is the epic .NET Fringe Conference. For those coming from Seattle for the conference, there’s going to be a geek train, there however one major decision that needs to be made. What departure should we board to get to Portland. This is where I’ll need your help to decide. There will be a mini-hack, wifi, food, and likely we’ll actually get the entire car to ourselves with enough of a crew. So sign up, vote, vote often and frequently for your preferred departure time! I’ll see you on the train!

Along with the departure, the trip, events for the trip and more information will be posted on the .NET Fringe site soon, along with additional ideas here.

Conference Recap – The awe inspiring quality & number of conferences in Cascadia!

Rails 2013 Conf (April 29th-May 1st)

The Rails 2013 Conference kicked off for me, with a short bike ride through town to the conference center. The Portland conference center is one of the most connected conference centers I’ve seen; light rail, streetcar, bus, bicycle boulevards, trails & of course pedestrian access is all available. I personally have no idea if you can drive to it, but I hear there is parking & such for drivers.



Rails Conf however clearly places itself in the category of a conference of people that give a shit! This is evident in so many things among the community, from the inclusive nature creating one of the most diverse groups of developers to the fact they handed out 7 day transit passes upon picking up your Rails Conf Pass!



The keynote was by DHH (obviously right?). He laid out where the Rails stack is, some roadmap topics & drew out how much the community had grown. Overall, Rails is now in the state of maintain and grow the ideal. Considering its inclusive nature I hope to see it continue to grow and to increase options out there for people getting into software development.

Railsconf 2013

Railsconf 2013

I also met a number of people while at the conference. One person I ran into again was Travis, who lives out yonder in Jacksonville, Florida and works with Hashrocket. Travis & I, besides the pure metal, have Jacksonville as common stomping ground. Last year I’d met him while the Hash Rocket Crew were in town. We discussed Portland, where to go and how to get there, plus what Hashrocket has been up to in regards to use around Mongo, other databases and how Ruby on Rails was treating them. The conclusion, all good on the dev front!

One of these days though, the Hashrocket crew is just gonna have to move to Portland. Sorry Jacksonville, we’ll visit one day. 😉

For the later half of the conferene I actually dove out and headed down for some client discussions in the country of Southern California. Nathan Aschbacher headed up Basho attendance at the conference from this point on. Which reminds me, I’ve gotta get a sitrep with Nathan…

RICON East (May 13th & 14th)



Ok, so I didn’t actually attend RICON East (sad face), I had far too many things to handle over here in Portlandia – but I watched over 1/3rd of the talks via the 1080p live stream. The basic idea of the RICON Conferences, is a conference series focused on distributed systems. Riak is of course a distributed database, falling into that category, but RICON is by no means merely about Riak at all. At RICON the talks range from competing products to acedemic heavy hitting talks about how, where and why distributed systems are the future of computing. They may touch on things you may be familiar with such as;

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • Existing databases and how they may fit into the fabric of distributed systems (such as Postgresql)
  • How to scale distributed across AWS Cloud Services, Azure or other cloud providers


As the videos are posted online I’ll be providing some blog entries around the talks. It will however be extremely difficult to choose the first to review, just as RICON back in October of 2012, every single talk was far above the modicum of the median!

Two immediate two talks that stand out was Christopher Meiklejohn’s @cmeik talk, doing a bit o’ proofs and all, in realtime off the cuff and all. It was merely a 5 minute lightnight talk, but holy shit this guy can roll through and hand off intelligence via a talk so fast in blew my mind!

The other talk was Kyle’s, AKA @aphry, who went through network partitions with databases. Basically destroying any comfort you might have with your database being effective at getting reads in a partition event. Kyle knows his stuff, that is without doubt.

There are many others, so subscribe keep reading and I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks.

Node PDX 2013 (May 16th & 17th)

Horse_js and other characters, planning some JavaScript hacking!

Horse_js and other characters, planning some JavaScript hacking!

Holy moley we did it, again! Thanks to EVERYBODY out there in the community for helping us pull together another kick ass Node PDX event! That’s two years in a row now! My fellow cohort of Troy Howard @thoward37 and Luc Perkins @lucperkins had hustled like some crazed worker bees to get everything together and ready – as always a lot always comes together the last minute and we don’t get a wink of sleep until its all done and everybody has had a good time!

Node PDX Sticker Selection was WICKED COOL!

Node PDX Sticker Selection was WICKED COOL!

Node PDX, it’s pretty self descriptive. It’s a one Node.js conference that also includes topics on hardware, javascript on the client side and a host of other topics. It’s also Portland specific. We have Portland Local Roasted Coffee (thanks Ristretto for the pour over & Coava for the custom roast!), Portland Beer (thanks brew capital of the world!), Portland Food (thanks Nicolas’!), Portland DJs (thanks Monika Mhz!), Portland Bands and tons of Portland wierdness all over the place. It’s always a good time! We get the notion at Node PDX, with all the Portlandia spread all over it’s one of the reasons that 8-12 people move to and get hired in Portland after this conference every year (it might become a larger range, as there are a few people planning to make the move in the coming months!).

A wide angle view of Holocene where Node PDX magic happened!

A wide angle view of Holocene where Node PDX magic happened!

The talks this year increased in number, but maintained a solid range of topics. We had a node.js disco talk, client side JavaScript, sensors and node.js, and even heard about people’s personal stories of how they got into programming JavaScript. Excellent talks, and as with RICON, I’ll be posting a blog entry and adding a few penny thoughts of my own to each talk.

Polyglot Conference 2013 (May 24th Workshops, 25th Conference)

Tea & Chris kick off Polyglot Conference 2013!

Tea & Chris kick off Polyglot Conference 2013!

A smiling crowd!

A smiling crowd!

Polyglot Conference was held in Vancouver again this year, with clear intent to expand to Portland and Seattle in the coming year or two. I’m super stoked about this and will definitely be looking to help out – if you’re interested in helping let me know and I’ll get you in contact with the entire crew that’s been handling things so far!

Polyglot Conference itself is a yearly conference held as an open spaces event. The way open space conferences work is described well on Wikipedia were it is referred to as Open Spaces Technology.

The crowds amass to order the chaos of tracks.

The crowds amass to order the chaos of tracks.

The biggest problem with this conference, is that it’s technically only one day. I hope that we can extend it to two days for next year – and hopefully even have the Seattle and Portland branches go with an extended two day itenerary.

A counting system...

A counting system…

This year the break out sessions that that I attended included “Dev Tools”, “How to Be a Better Programmer”, “Go (Language) Noises”, other great sessions and I threw down a session of my own on “Distributed Systems”. Overall, great time and great sessions! I had a blast and am looking forward to next year.

By the way, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of this blog entry, but this is only THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER IN CASCADIA! I’ll have more coverage of these events and others coming up, the roadmap includes OS Bridge (where I’m also speaking) and Portland’s notorious OSCON.

Until the next conference, keep hacking on that next bad ass piece of software, cheers!