Data Science newsletter – June 5, 2019

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for June 5, 2019


Data Science News

The Apple Watch Is Now the Control Center for Your Health

WIRED, Science, Robbie Gonzalez


This week at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple executive Kevin Lynch announced multiple updates to WatchOS, the operating system that powers the company’s smartwatch. (Voice memos, a calculator, streaming audio, oh my!) But the most telling features were the new additions to the watch’s suite of health-monitoring tools.

Beginning this fall, Apple Watch will track your activity trends over time, help protect your hearing by alerting you to harmful levels of ambient noise, and allow users to track their menstrual cycles. Individually, these improvements might look small or trivial. But given the watch’s existing health and fitness features, this new bundle of capabilities underscores Apple’s push to make its smartwatch the control center for your personal health. Sure, calculating a tip from your wrist is neat. But a personal companion that monitors your well-being everywhere you go? That, Apple is betting, is the future.

Why Siri is not as smart as Alexa, Google Assistant

CNBC, Jordan Novet and Adam Isaak


So why doesn’t Siri always understand what you’re looking for?

In part, it comes down to things that have nothing to do with the science, and everything to do with the reality of how different companies work.

“One of the challenges of Siri is the negative image that they created by over-promising, under-delivering in the early days,” says Keyvan Mohajer, the co-founder and CEO SoundHound, a company that offers a virtual assistant that competes with Siri, along with music-recognition technology and voice tools for other companies to use.

“The other challenge they have is, they haven’t really increased the knowledge base as quickly as you would expect. Amazon went from a handful of skills to hundreds and thousands and ten

Networks of sponges could capture DNA to track ocean health

Science, Elizabeth Pennisi


To track the biological health of oceans, researchers use cameras, satellite images, and, increasingly, DNA shed directly into the water. But capturing genetic material in the sea is a tough task: Scientists must sift through massive amounts of water to dredge up their samples. Now, marine biologists have discovered that sponges are very good at “sponging” up DNA. More research is needed, but eventually a network of sponges planted throughout the oceans could provide an easy readout of how the diversity of plants and animals nearby is doing.

“It’s a clever idea,” says Eske Willeslev, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen who was not involved with the work. “It could make studies of biodiversity easier and more consistent.”

The Cute Dog Project

Daily Nous, Justin Weinberg


A group of undergraduates at Northeastern University studying philosophy, political science, computer science, data science, economics, and other subjects teamed up on a surprisingly interesting and sophisticated project to rank the cutest dog in the university’s Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Called The Cute Dog Project, it attempted to address “a topic about which there has been long-standing and passionate disagreement” in “a philosophically and scientifically rigorous way.”

Engineering the world’s largest digital camera

symmetry magazine, Erika K. Carlson


In a brightly lit clean room at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, engineers are building a car-sized digital camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

When it’s ready, LSST will image almost all of the sky visible from its vantage point on a Chilean mountain, Cerro Pachón, every few nights for a decade to make an astronomical movie of unprecedented proportions.

The camera is a combination of many extremes. Its largest lens is one of the biggest ever created for astronomy and astrophysics.

Toronto unveils city’s 1st ‘resilience strategy’ to address climate change, poverty

CBC News


City officials launched Toronto’s first “resilience strategy” on Tuesday that presents a vision to help residents deal with shocks, stresses and the unexpected.

Toronto’s Chief Resilience Officer Elliott Cappell told reporters that the city is becoming “hotter, wetter, wilder,” inequality is growing in Toronto and the city needs a plan.

“Our growing risks and vulnerabilities are interconnected, as those who are most vulnerable, in many cases, are also at highest risk. This resilience strategy helps us to address these urgent and growing challenges,” Cappell said in a news release on Tuesday.

Confronting Climate Change, Louisiana Shifts From Resilience to Retreat

Pacific Standard, Sophie Kasakove


In the face of rising sea levels, the state has begun to integrate a new strategy for confronting climate change: retreat. These first experiments in relocating those most vulnerable to climate change indicate the need for programs that incorporate retreat as one of a range of mitigation and adaptation strategies, ensuring that populations that remain aren’t left without the resources to become resilient.

Earlier this month, the state’s Office of Community Development and the non-profit Foundation for Louisiana released a widespread blueprint, Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE), that outlines the full consequence of the changes taking place on the coast and a range of possible tools with which to address them, but perhaps even more importantly, to accept them. Even if the state builds all of the levees, pumps, and floodgates outlined in this and previous plans, “complete protection is impossible,” according to the 1,500-page document, which focuses on the six parishes surrounding New Orleans that were hardest hit by Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

The changing imperative to demonstrate social science impact

LSE Impact Blog, Ziyad Marar


In less than a decade the impact agenda has evolved from being a controversial idea to an established part of most national research systems. Over the same period the conceptualisation of research impact in the social sciences and the ability to create and measure research impact through digital communication media has also developed significantly. In this post, Ziyad Marar argues that it is time to reinvigorate the debate on demonstrating social science research impact and to develop a language for talking about research impact that is unique to the social sciences.

Group targets a platform for collaborative data management in drug discovery

Chemical & Engineering News, Rick Mullin


A newly-formed consortium of pharmaceutical companies, academic researchers, and technology suppliers has announced a three-year, $20 million project that will apply machine learning methods and block-chain security techniques to data management in drug development. The Machine Learning Ledger Orchestration for Drug Discovery (Melloddy) project aims to facilitate sharing of data from chemical libraries among competitive drug firms.

“This project allows the pharma partners for the first time to collaborate in their core competitive space, invigorating discovery efforts through efficiency gains,” says Hugo Ceulemans, scientific director for discovery data sciences at Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Melloddy project leader.

USC to open “smart data” artificial intelligence institute

Charlotte Observer, Lucas Daprile


The University of South Carolina wants to start working smarter.

Later this summer, the school will open an institute dedicated to studying and developing artificial intelligence, which is sometimes abbreviated AI, the school announced Tuesday.

The institute aims to use its AI research to help develop “self-improving” and customized programs for social workers, pharmacists, teachers and more, the release said.

How Emma Boettcher’s ‘Whimsical’ Jeopardy! Strategy Defeated James Holzhauer

New York Magazine, Vulture blog, Devon Ivie


Did your career as a user-experience librarian help inform your strategy in any way?

When I was getting my master’s degree in information sciences, I wrote my master’s paper on Jeopardy! I don’t think being a librarian uniquely prepares me for such a game show, but I’m in an environment that really values knowledge. No question is too small, and no research avenue is too weird or unheard of. You’re around a lot of people who are fascinated by everything. It’s such a great place to be in to keep that love of learning going all the time.

What’s driving open source software in 2019

O'Reilly Media, Roger Magoulas and Rachel Roumeliotis


Our recent analysis of speaker proposals from the 2017-2019 editions of OSCON[1] yielded several intriguing findings:

  • We see cloud native gaining traction for open source developers to help promote resilience, scaling, availability, and improved responsiveness. The shift to a cloud native paradigm brings new challenges, new tools, and new practices for developers to master.
  • Results from our ranking of proposal phrases show the centrality of data to the open source community: “data” (the No. 5 term) outpacing “code” (the No. 14 term), the rise in AI/ML topics, and in the nascent cloud native paradigm where monitoring and analytics assume critical importance—highlighting the demand for skills in analytics, data acquisition, etc.

  • IEEE Reverses Huawei Paper Review Restrictions



    In a new statement issued late Sunday, the world’s largest technical professional organization the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) announced it is lifting restrictions it had imposed scarcely a week ago on editorial and peer reviews involving employees of Chinese tech communication giant Huawei.

    Stanford and NASA Ames researchers put inexpensive chip-size satellites into orbit

    Stanford University, Stanford News


    A swarm of 105 tiny satellites the size of computer chips, costing under $100 each, recently launched into Earth’s orbit. Stanford scientist Zac Manchester, who dreamed up the ChipSats, said they pave the way for cheaper and easier space exploration.

    DARPA to Use Shrimp, Plankton to Detect Undersea Threats

    National Defense magazine, Mandy Mayfield


    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s biological technology office will begin prototyping sensing capabilities using undersea organisms such as plankton and shrimp to detect threats.

    DARPA launched its biological technology office in 2014 to begin research in hopes of aiding the Defense Department in the fight against unique forms of bioterrorism, and deploy biological countermeasures to thwart peer adversaries, according to the agency.

    Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract in April to develop biological sensing hardware to observe patterns in the marine environment and help classify targets.


    PyData Ann Arbor Meetup – Machine Learning Infrastructure

    Meetup, PyData Ann Arbor


    Ann Arbor, MI June 12, starting at 6 p.m., TD Ameritrade (201 S. Division, Suite 500). Speaker: Alexandra Johnson from SigOpt. [rsvp required]

    Securing Our Cyber Future: Innovative Approaches to Digital Threats

    Stanford Cyber Policy Center


    Stanford, CA June 6, starting at 9 a.m. “Join us in-person or online for the official launch event of the new Stanford Cyber Policy Center. This event will feature the release of the new white paper “Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections and Beyond,” and offer a full day of research presentations and panels including white paper co-authors.”


    Data for Good Exchange 2019: Data Science for the SDGs Preliminary Call for Papers, Posters, Panels & Workshops

    New York, NY September 15, starting at 8:30 a.m., Bloomberg L.P. global headquarters. Deadline for submissions is June 17.

    HackSTIR – Interactive Data Science Workshop for Science, Technology and Innovation Research

    London, England October 21-25. “HackSTIR is a 5-day immersive hack week to be held at Nesta. Workshop participants will learn about new open source technologies used to analyse, link, and communicate datasets relating to science, technology and innovation research.” Deadline to apply is July 1.

    AI Fairness for People with Disabilities – Call for Position Papers

    Pittsburgh, PA October 27, part of ASSETS 2019 conference. ” This workshop will examine AI fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics (FATE) for the specific situations of people with disabilities.” Deadline for submissions is July 3.

    Raymond Carroll Young Investigator Award nominations

    “The Carroll Young Investigator Award is awarded biennially on odd numbered years [by Texas A&M, Department of Statistics] to a statistician who has made important contributions to the area of statistics.” Deadline for nominations is August 15.
    Tools & Resources

    5 min Guide to NNoM

    GitHub – majianjia


    The aim for NNoM is to help Embedded Engineers to develop and deploy Neural Network models onto the MCUs. NNoM is working closely with Keras. … This guide will show you how to use NNoM for your very first step from an embedded engineer perspective.

    Panel: A high-level app and dashboarding solution for the PyData ecosystem.

    Medium, Philipp Rudiger


    “Panel is a new open-source Python library that lets you create custom interactive web apps and dashboards by connecting user-defined widgets to plots, images, tables, or text. It is the culmination of our multi-year effort to connect data scientists with tools for deploying the output of their analysis and models with internal or external consumers of the analysis, without having to learn completely different technology stacks or getting into the weeds of web development.”


    Full-time positions outside academia

    Data Analyst / Software Developer

    Institute for Environmental Analytics; Reading, England

    Senior Data Engineer

    phData; Minneapolis, MN
    Full-time, non-tenured academic positions

    Senior Application Developer

    Vanderbilt University, Research IT Service; Nashville, TN

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