The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data

ECE/SCS Distinguished Lecture: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data

Starts at: October 16, 2012 4:30 PM

Location: Rashid Auditorium - Gates&Hillman 4401

Speaker: Peter Norvig

Affiliation: Director of Research, Google, Inc.

Refreshments provided: Yes




Tuesday, 16 October 2012

-- Distinguished Refreshments:  3:10 pm (outside the auditorium)

-- Lecture: 3:30 pm -- Rashid Auditorium - Gates&Hillman 4401

-- Additional Details:


with very special guest....



Director of Research

Google, Inc.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data

In decades past, models of human language were wrought from the sweat and pencils of linguists. In the modern day, it is more common to think of language modeling as an exercise in probabilistic inference from data: we observe how words and combinations of words are used, and from that build computer models of what the phrases mean. This approach is hopeless with a small amount of data, but somewhere in the range of millions or billions of examples, we pass a threshold, and the hopeless suddenly becomes effective, and computer models sometimes meet or exceed human performance. This talk gives examples of the data available in large repositories: text, images, videos, and even the interactions of students in a massive online class, and shows what can be done with the data.


Peter Norvig is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery. At Google Inc he was Director of Search Quality, responsible for the core web search algorithms from 2002-2005, and has been Director of Research from 2005 on.

Previously he was the head of the Computational Sciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center, making him NASA's senior computer scientist. He received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Award in 2001. He has served as an assistant professor at the University of Southern California and a research faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley Computer Science Department, from which he received a Ph.D. in 1986 and the distinguished alumni award in 2006. He has over fifty publications in Computer Science, concentrating on Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Software Engineering, including the books Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (the leading textbook in the field), Paradigms of AI Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp, Verbmobil: A Translation System for Face-to-Face Dialog, and Intelligent Help Systems for UNIX. He is also the author of the Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation and the world's longest palindromic sentence.


Special Note:  This lecture will be be followed by a reception and then a special Joint TechBridgeWorld-SCS-Heinz College Distinguished Lecture by Ann Mei Chang, Senior Advisor for Women and Technology, Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues and Franklin Fellow, U.S. Department of State at 5:00 pm.