Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to choose a Grad Program in Machine Learning

So, you have decided to continue your studies.
You have decided it'll be Machine Learning.

Where can you start?

Have you been pondering on how to cook a pizza? If you are anything like me, you'll consider is a hassle just to get the ingredients, let alone start making the real stuff. How about fixing that old bicycle you have in the garage?

Most tasks in life are hard because we have a hard time figuring out how to start. And a graduate program is no different. Depending on which country you live, you can find that several universities have the same program, how do you know which one is best or which one will fit you?

Machine Learning, in its current form, is a rather recent area. Because of this, you'll find that few universities offer graduate courses specifically on Machine Learning. Often, to study ML, you'll have to enroll in a Computer Science graduate program and then go with a professor who specializes on ML.

I really recommend that you focus on the professor you want to work with, rather than the University's name. A lot of people will go to good Universities without knowing nothing of the researchers there.

Doing a quick search on Google with Machine Learning and Research Lab + Country name should throw some results. It would be impossible to make a list, since there are many labs to look into, but you can look into my webpage for some insight.

Try also looking into labs that pick your interest, like computer vision, text processing, data mining, a lot of these areas are using Machine Learning. And while the lab might be using other tools as well, you can always try to improve their work using ML.

Now, do you want to do applications or do you want to unravel the mysteries of the algorithms. It is safe to say that very few people would be able to create something entirely new in a 3 year PhD, you might success at modifying an algorithm or applying some obscure test to some unseen data.

Most laboratories will look into applications, and how to apply Machine Learning algorithms, I really recommend you to look into labs that have at least a couple of mathematicians in its staff, since it will be a guarantee that their work is well established on the theoretical part.

Another thing to check is whether the professor you are interested in, is still active as a researcher, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is for a research lab, if the professor does not write papers anymore, it will be hard for him to keep up with you or whatever crazy algorithm you are thinking of.

These are nothing but some advises, and in our next post we will speak more profoundly on applications and algorithms in Machine Learning and how to choose your path.

See you next time

Remember to visit www.leonpalafox.com for my latest research and a list of ML Conferences

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