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Brian Ruttenberg: Probabilistic Programming and the Democratization of AI

Probabilistic models form the foundation of modern Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. However, building and reasoning on models that represent large and complex scenarios is a daunting task for even the most expert and experienced programmers. As a result, there has been significant effort lately on the development of probabilistic programming languages, which allow probabilistic processes, models and algorithms to be specified using familiar programming language constructs. These languages are democratizing the AI field, enabling users  with little ML and AI experience to easily construct and perform inference on large and complex probabilistic models.

In this talk, Brian will discuss the motivation for the advent of probabilistic programming languages, detail some of the major problems they are trying to solve, and will throw in a little theory for good measure. He will present many examples of the power of these new languages using Figaro, a free, open-source (BSD license), probabilistic programming language.

Bio: Brian Ruttenberg is a scientist at Charles River Analytics. His primary area of expertise is machine learning, data mining and probabilistic modeling. His current area of research focuses on exploring new representations and inference mechanisms in probabilistic programming languages, and applications of probabilistic programming to new fields such as cyber security and malware analysis. Prior to joining Charles River Analytics, he designed graphics and memory systems for Intel and Qualcomm Corporations. Dr. Ruttenberg holds a B.S.E. in computer engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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  • EdK

    Great! I'll start playing with it.

    October 10, 2013

  • Brian R.

    Hi everyone. Figaro 2.0 has finally been released! I apologize for the delay. You can find the github repository here:

    We are still trying to settle on a process for people to contribute (should be a couple of days), but you should still be able to clone the code and play around with it.

    October 10, 2013

  • Tim S.

    Hi All,

    the video of Brian's talk is now live on YouTube. Catch it here:

    September 18, 2013

  • sean s.

    Will the slides be shared later?

    September 17, 2013

    • Brian R.

      Hi Sean. You can email me at the address below if you'd like the slides.

      September 17, 2013

  • Brian R.

    I just wanted to thank the organizers for giving me the opportunity to talk about probabilistic programming and thank everyone for attending. I really enjoyed it.

    If you'd like a copy of the slides, feel free to email me at [masked] and I can send them to you. Also, I will post a reminder when version 2.0 is released.


    September 17, 2013

  • Nirupam S.

    The topic to be discussed is very interesting as I have experinece in both AI and ML. I can not reach Cambridge before 6:30. I'll try to make it next time.

    1 · September 13, 2013

    • Dan Von K.

      Nirupam, it was nice to meet you there.

      September 17, 2013

  • Venkat

    Got stuck in a meeting. Just getting out. Is there a chance I can join now? If not, I'll just wait for the video to be made available. I'm sorry for the late notice..

    September 16, 2013

  • Beth L.

    Interesting talk but for those of us who don't know Scala well, it was hard to absorb the coding examples.

    September 16, 2013

  • Alex E. stuck in a meeting that ran over. Regrettably, can't make it. Changed my RSVP to 'no'.

    September 16, 2013

  • Anthony T.

    Sick, but looking forward to the next one!

    September 16, 2013

  • Chichi S.

    Where can we park around that area?

    September 16, 2013

    • Dan Von K.

      There is a lot of parking around the area. Most of the meters don't need payment after 6pm.

      September 16, 2013

  • Michael L.

    Will the talk be recorded?

    September 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      interview with entrepreneur doing AI work

      July 10, 2013

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