The first Data Weekend on Machine Learning in San Francisco was a great success!
Participants arrived in the morning, not sure of what to expect. After all they were the pioneers... The first curious ones wanting to spend a whole weekend cranking on Data Science.
We mingled over breakfast and participants started to get to know each other and interact, then at 9:30 we started to work.
During the first day participants discover the basic techniques of Machine Learning: regression, classification and clustering and they learn to apply them to data problems using Python. The balance of class to theory is about half and half, so that one builds knowledge and hands-on practice together. Real world datasets are used throughout the examples, starting from simple and then building up complexity.
We had breaks for coffee and lunch. It was very hard to break sessions, though. People seemed to be genuinely engaged and having fun learning, so much so that they were willing to skip coffee breaks and lunch !
On the second day the atmosphere was more relaxed and familiar. People were getting to know each other, and we facilitated that with a short fun activity in the morning. Then, more advanced techniques were introduced. Students learnt how to validate a model and how to judge the results of a prediction task. The whole afternoon of the second day was dedicated to the final project, which involved setting up a simple website to serve predictions based on a model.
When the second day was over, we parted with a smile. The experiment was a success. Data Weekend was born!
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