Data Science newsletter – March 28, 2017

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for March 28, 2017


Data Science News

“Dig once” bill could bring fiber Internet to much of the US | Ars Technica

Ars Technica, Jon Brodkin


Years in the making, a proposal to mandate the installation of fiber conduits during federally funded highway projects might be gaining some new momentum.

If the US adopts a “dig once” policy, construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished.

Like Ambulances, Data Needs to be Treated as a Strategic Asset

Johns Hopkins University, GovEx, Andrew Nicklin


Why we need more government Chief Data Officers

Ambulances aren’t magical, self-maintaining machines. They must be stocked with bandages, defibrillators, and burn kits. Like any other car, they must have air in their tires, plenty of fuel, and working headlights. They are frequently inspected, and repaired or replaced when they break down. They are upgraded when new techniques for treating patients are developed. Ambulances cannot do these things for themselves; people are responsible for taking care of these important tools. When there are several ambulances in a fleet, there is usually a person who manages that fleet, ensuring that all of them are ready at a moment’s notice to help save lives.

I Took the AI Class Facebookers Are Literally Sprinting to Get Into

WIRED, Business, Cade Metz


Companies have now vacuumed up most of the available talent—and they need more. Until recently, deep learning was a fringe pursuit even in the academic world. Relatively few people are formally trained in these techniques, which require a very different kind of thinking than traditional software engineering. So, Facebook is now organizing formal classes and longterm research internships in an effort to build new deep learning talent and spread it across the company. “We have incredibly smart people here,” Zitnick says. “They just need the tools.”

The Battle for Top AI Talent Only Gets Tougher From Here

WIRED, Business, Cade Metz


AI researchers are among the most prized talent in the modern tech world. A few years ago, Peter Lee, a vice president inside Microsoft Research, said that the cost of acquiring a top AI researcher was comparable to the cost of signing a quarterback in the NFL. Since then, the market for talent has only gotten hotter. Elon Musk nabbed several researchers out from under Google and Facebook in founding a new lab called OpenAI, and the big players are now buying up AI startups before they get off the ground.

NYC’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab brings Internet of Things, apps and analytics to Brooklyn

statescoop, Jason Shueh


New York City is bringing residents into the smart city planning process with the announcement that Brownsville, in Brooklyn, will be the first to have its own Neighborhood Innovation Lab.

The purpose of the lab is to gather residents, educators, tech companies, government officials and other stakeholders to solve local problems through data analysis, apps, sensors that monitor neighborhood resources and Internet of Things devices.

Code Ocean: Tackling Reproducibility and Transparency in Scientific Research

Cornell Tech, News & Views


A Jacobs Institute-incubated startup has launched a global platform to address a challenging topic in scientific research — the crisis of reproducibility and transparency.

Code Ocean is a cloud-based platform that makes the computational code used in research both accessible and usable. Researchers and software engineers across the planet can now share and run code with a single click.

Facebook pioneer donates $75 million to UCSD for data science

The San Diego Union-Tribune, Gary Robbins


UC San Diego’s push to raise a record $2 billion in private donations got a big lift Saturday when a scientist who helped turn Facebook into a social-media giant gave the campus $75 million.

Taner Halicioglu’s gift is meant to make the campus a national leader in data science and to launch the public phase of a capital campaign that’s already produced almost $1 billion.

Elon Musk’s OpenAI Unveils a Simpler Way for Machines to Learn

MIT Technology Review, Tom Simonite


OpenAI, a nonprofit research institute cofounded and funded by Elon Musk, says it has discovered an easier-to-use alternative to reinforcement learning that gets rival results when it plays games and performs other tasks. At MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco on Monday, OpenAI’s research director, Ilya Sutskever, said that could allow researchers to make progress in machine learning faster.

“It’s competitive with today’s reinforcement-learning algorithms on standard benchmarks,” said Sutskever. “It is surprising that something so simple actually works.”

Entering a Golden Age of Innovation in Computer Science

LinkedIn, Paul G. Allen


Today’s computer science and engineering students have a wonderful opportunity to put their skills and expertise to use solving the world’s biggest problems. The computer programs of today are really only constrained by the user’s imagination.

Today’s announcement that the University of Washington’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering will be elevated to a school and will bear my name is truly an honor.

UW has always felt like home to me for several reasons.

Testing new networking protocols



At the Usenix Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation later this month, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory will present a system for testing new traffic management protocols that requires no alteration to network hardware but still works at realistic speeds — 20 times as fast as networks of software-controlled routers.

New AI Algorithm Beats Even the World’s Worst Traffic

VICE, Motherboard, Michael Byrne


Computer scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a new intelligent routing algorithm that attempts to minimize the occurrence of spontaneous traffic jams—those sudden snarls caused by greedy merges and other isolated disruptions—throughout a roadway network. It’s both computationally distributed and fast, requirements for any real-world traffic management system. Their work is described in the April issue of IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computational Intelligence.

Satellite Data Reveal Effects of Aerosols in Earth’s Atmosphere – Eos

Eos, Sarah Stanley


Earth’s atmosphere is dusted with tiny particles known as aerosols, which include windblown ash, sea salt, pollution, and other natural and human-produced materials. Aerosols can absorb or scatter sunlight, affecting how much light reflects back into space or stays trapped in the atmosphere.

Despite aerosols’ known impact on Earth’s temperature, major uncertainties plague current estimates of their overall effects, which in turn limit the certainty of climate change models. In an effort to reduce this uncertainty, Lacagnina et al. have combined new satellite data, providing, for the first time, data on aerosols’ ability to absorb or reflect light globally, through model simulations

Natural Language Understanding in Automated Question Answering

ReWork, Machine Learning Weekly, Chloe Pang


Leading up to the Machine Intelligence Summit in San Francisco this week, RE•WORK sat down with Minjoon Seo for a chat about his recent work that will be showcased at the summit. Minjoon is a 4th year PhD student in computer science at the University of Washington who is currently focusing on natural language understanding and QA research.


National Math Festival

Mathematical Sciences Research Institute


Washington, DC The National Math Festival is free and open to the public from 10:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

ML@GT Launch and Welcome Celebration

Machine Learning at Georgia Tech


Atlanta, GA Monday April 17 at 11 a.m. in Technology Square Research Building (TSRB) Banquet Hall [free, rsvp by April 3]

TC Sessions: Robotics



Cambridge, MA a one-day event on everything robots, July 17 at MIT, Kresge Auditorium [registration not yet available]

Cloudera Government Forum



Washington, DC Tuesday, April 25, at The Newseum [registration required]

Humanizing Data: Data, Humanities, and the City – Urban Democracy Lab

NYU Gallatin, Urban Democracy Lab


New York, NY April 8 starting at 9 a.m., 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor [free, please RSVP]

KDD 2017



Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada August 13-17 [$$$$]


NASA request for input on the K2 Campaign 17 and 18 field placement

The fields for K2 Campaigns 17 and beyond have not yet been set. Although these future Campaigns are at risk of not being executed due to Kepler running low on fuel, there is a significant chance that the spacecraft will continue to function well into 2018 and the project must be ready to observe fields accordingly. Deadline for requests for field placements is April 11.

Microsoft Research Data Science Summer School

The Data Science Summer School (DS3) is an intensive, eight-week hands-on introduction to data science for college students in the New York City area. Deadline to apply is April 14.

Data Science + Journalism @ KDD 2017

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Workshop preceding KDD 2017 on August 14. Deadline for submissions is May 26.

The RepEval 2017 Shared Task

RepEval 2017 features a shared task meant to evaluate natural language understanding models based on sentence encoders—that is, models that transform sentences into fixed-length vector representations and reason using those representations. The task will be natural language inference (also known as recognizing textual entailment, or RTE) in the style of SNLI—a three-class balanced classification problem over sentence pairs. The shared task will feature a new, dedicated dataset that spans several genres of text.

Kaggle evaluation site opens on June 1. Evaluation ends June 14.

WSSSPE5.2 submissions open – WSSSPE

Auckland, New Zealand Working towards Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences is part of the eScience 2017 meeting on October 24. Deadline for abstract submissions is June 30.

Video and Image Processing Cup – Traffic Sign Detection under Challenging Conditions

Finalists will be selected by the organizers of the competition and will be invited to ICIP 2017. Deadline for submissions is July 1.

Low-Power Image Recognition Challenge (LPIRC) 2017

Honolulu, HI A workshop and competition preceding CVPR: Detect all relevant objects in as many images as possible of a common test set from the ImageNet object detection data set within 10 minutes.
Tools & Resources

Next.js 2.0



“Next.js is a very slim yet powerful framework. Place React components in a pages directory and running next, and you’ll get automatic code splitting, routing, hot code reloading and universal (server-side and client-side) rendering.”



AsciiMath is an easy-to-write markup language for mathematics.


Full-time positions outside academia

Survey Processing and Data Management Specialist

USAID, DHS Program; Rockville, MD

Sr. Data Engineer – Higher Education Data Analytics

HelioCampus; Bethesda, MD

Anxieties of Democracy Program Director

Social Science Research Council; Brooklyn, NY

Postdoctoral Fellow

Harvard University, Crowd Innovation Lab at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Cambridge, MA

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