Yann LeCun and John Langford Co-Teaching New Course: “Large-Scale Machine Learning and Big Data”

Currently during the Spring 2013 semester, Yann LeCun, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Silver Professor of Computer ScienceNeural Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and John Langford, Doctor of Learning at Microsoft Research, are co-teaching a new course entitled “Big Data, Large Scale Machine Learning.”

“It’s great to have John on board because he has considerable practical expertise in these issues,” said Yann LeCun, Director of the recently-launched NYU Center for Data Science. “He’s making his techniques available for the world to see.” The course is a prototype for one of the Center for Data Science’s required core courses in the Master in Science of Data Science to be launched in the fall of 2013.

Formerly at Yahoo! Research and now at Microsoft’s new research lab in New York City, John Langford has been working on various techniques to make machine learning more reliable, predictable, automatic, effective and parallelizable. “I’m a researcher and I believe if you’re doing good research, it should be the kind of thing you teach,” he said. “The class is a great idea because there are a lot of things that have been developed in machine learning. The primary development center is still substantially in academia but there’s also a considerable part now in industry. The fact that I can teach at NYU is very helpful for students because we have various techniques and tools that aren’t as available otherwise in academia.”

With enormous changes in machine learning happening right now, LeCun and Langford feel the course is coming at just the right time. According to Langford, “Machine learning is becoming an industrial tool and is going to stretch in various ways in order to accommodate what’s needed for industry. What’s really driving it is people have lots of data and they want to figure out how to do something useful with it.”

Both LeCun and Langford agree that demand is extremely high for people with this kind of specialized learning. “In this revolution of data-driven knowledge in science, business and government, we need people who really know the methods and techniques for extracting knowledge from data,” said LeCun. Echoing his statement, Langford added, “You really want people who understand computers and you really want people who understand data. And then you want the two of them together because computers and data together allow you to do things you couldn’t imagine doing otherwise.”

To learn more about the course “Big Data, Large Scale Machine Learning,” click here.

Written by M.L. Ball