Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Machine Learning and The New York Academy of Sciences

Last Friday some friends and I attended the 5th Machine Learning Symposium organized by The New York Academy of Sciences in Manhattan. People from institutions nearby presented some of their research going in Machine Learning and Learning Theory. Even when I have been mostly working on Computer Vision and Images, the kind of projects that I am working on have a lot to do with Machine Learning so I'm very excited that there exists such a large local community interested in those topics in which I mostly rely upon and might potentially contribute. I would like to comment some of my impressions about the Machine Learning and Computer Vision community ecosystem and how there is an EM-like process going between these two.

Sometimes people in Computer Vision contribute to Machine Learning and sometimes people in Machine Learning contribute to Computer Vision as well. Computer Vision scientists get better results as they get better understanding of the human visual system and also when they get better ways to learn from data. So they often find themselves coming up with new techniques to discover patterns on image data. On the other hand Machine Learning researchers will often try
Charles Darwin at The New York Academy of Sciences
to prove their theories on interesting datasets. Interesting could mean complicated but could also mean datasets that are likely to be reproduced by a natural or artificial process. In this case image statistics are a very interesting case because they come with their own encoded statistics, the so-called natural image statistics. Another application that comes with natural statistics is NLP or Natural Language Processing. So very often Machine Learning researchers find themselves trying to discover patterns on either images or language. And maybe I should also mention that there are those who these days are trying to do them all three and I happen to be a member of such groups which is good because it lets me see closer what's going on in each of those fields. The symposium was very well balanced in this regard, it presented projects dealing with images, text and pure learning theory. I'm looking forward to attend the meeting next year and perhaps presenting some of my own this time.

I also want to stress how impressive New York looks from the New York Academy of Sciences auditorium. The whole magnificence of the giant skyscrapers feels like it can almost be touched and sensation of flying is astounding. You can see in the picture here the shadow projected by the building I was in onto the other buildings. Also I was very happy to find the bust of Charles Darwin in the inside. The eminent scientist that one day decided to pursue his research in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador in his quest for uncovering the mysteries of evolution.

View from The New York Academy of Sciences