Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python – Submitted!

There you go, the first checkpoint is completed: I have officially submitted the completed version of “Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python”.

The book has been some time in the making (and in the thinking…). It is a follow up from my previous book, imaginatively called “Data Science and Analytics with Python” . The book covers aspects that were necessarily left out in the previous volume; however, the readers in mind are still technical people interested in moving into the data science and analytics world. I have tried to keep the same tone as in the first book, peppering the pages with some bits and bobs of popular culture, science fiction and indeed Monty Python puns. 

Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python enables data scientists to continue developing their skills and apply them in business as well as academic settings. The subjects discussed in this book are complementary and a follow up from the topics discuss in Data Science and Analytics with Python. The aim is to cover important advanced areas in data science using tools developed in Python such as SciKit-learn, Pandas, Numpy, Beautiful Soup, NLTK, NetworkX and others. The development is also supported by the use of frameworks such as Keras, TensorFlow and Core ML, as well as Swift for the development of iOS and MacOS applications.

The book can be read independently form the previous volume and each of the chapters in this volume is sufficiently independent from the others proving flexibiity for the reader. Each of the topics adressed in the book tackles the data science workflow from a practical perspective, concentrating on the process and results obtained. The implementation and deployment of trained models are central to the book

Time series analysis, natural language processing, topic modelling, social network analysis, neural networds and deep learning are comprehensively covrered in the book. The book discusses the need to develop data products and tackles the subject of bringing models to their intended audiences. In this case literally to the users fingertips in the form of an iPhone app.

While the book is still in the oven, you may want to take a look at the first volume. You can get your copy here:

Furthermore you can see my Author profile here.

ODSC Europe 2019

It was a pleasure to come to the opening day of ODSC Europe 2019. This time round I was the first speaker of the first session, and it was very apt as the talk was effectively an introduction to Data Science.

The next 4 days will be very hectic for the attendees and it the quality is similar to the previous editions we are going to have a great time.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Original article by JF Puget here.

Here is a question I was asked to discuss at a conference last month: what is Artifical Intelligence (AI)?  Instead of trying to answer it, which could take days, I decided to focus on how AI has been defined over the years.  Nowadays, most people probably equate AI with deep learning.  This has not always been the case as we shall see.

Most people say that AI was first defined as a research field in a 1956 workshop at Dartmouth College.  Reality is that is has been defined 6 years earlier by Alan Turing in 1950.  Let me cite Wikipedia here:

The Turing test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviorequivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation is a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so the result would not depend on the machine’s ability to render words as speech.[2] If the evaluator cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give correct answers to questions, only how closely answers resemble those a human would give.

The test was introduced by Turing in his paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence“, while working at the University of Manchester(Turing, 1950; p. 460).[3] It opens with the words: “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?'” Because “thinking” is difficult to define, Turing chooses to “replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words.”[4] Turing’s new question is: “Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?”[5] This question, Turing believed, is one that can actually be answered. In the remainder of the paper, he argued against all the major objections to the proposition that “machines can think”.[6]


So, the first definition of AI was about thinking machines.  Turing decided to test thinking via a chat.

The definition of AI rapidly evolved to include the ability to perform complex reasoning and planing tasks.  Early success in the 50s led prominent researchers to make imprudent predictions about how AI would become a reality in the 60s.  The lack of realization of these predictions led to funding cut known as the AI winter in the 70s.

In the early 80s, building on some success for medical diagnosis, AI came back with expert systems.  These systems were trying to capture the expertise of humans in various domains, and were implemented as rule based systems.  This was the days were AI was focusing on the ability to perform tasks at best human expertise level.  Success like IBM Deep Blue beating the chess world champion, Gary Kasparov, in  1997 was the acme of this line of AI research.

Let’s contrast this with today’s AI.  The focus is on perception: can we have systems that recognize what is in a picture, what is in a video, what is said in a sound track?  Rapid progress is underway for these tasks thanks to the use of deep learning.  Is it AI still?  Are we automating human thinking?  Reality is we are working on automating tasks that most humans can do without any thinking effort. Yet we see lots of bragging about AI being a reality when all we have is some ability to mimic human perception.  I really find it ironic that our definition of intelligence is that of mere perception  rather than thinking.

Granted, not all AI work today is about perception.  Work on natural language processing (e.g. translation) is a bit closer to reasoning than mere perception tasks described above.  Success like IBM Watson at Jeopardy, or Google AlphaGO at Go are two examples of the traditional AI aiming at replicate tasks performed by human experts.    The good news (to me at least) is that the progress is so rapid on perception that it will move from a research field to an engineering field in the coming years.  We will then see a re-positioning of researchers on other AI related topics such as reasoning and planning.  We’ll be closer to Turing’s initial view of AI.

Data Science & Augmented Intelligence – Reblog from “Data Science: a new discipline to change the world” by Alan Wilson

This is a reblog of the post by Alan Wilson that appeared in the EPSRC blog. You can see the original here.


Data science – the new kid on the block

I have re-badged myself several times in my research career: mathematician, theoretical physicist, economist (of sorts), geographer, city planner, complexity scientist, and now data scientist. This is partly personal idiosyncrasy but also a reflection of how new interdisciplinary research challenges emerge. I now have the privilege of being the Chief Executive of The Alan Turing Institute – the national centre for data science. ‘Data science’ is the new kid on the block. How come?

First, there is an enormous amount of new ‘big’ data; second, this has had a powerful impact on all the sciences; and thirdly, on society, the economy and our way of life. Data science represents these combinations. The data comes from wide-spread digitisation combined with the ‘open data’ initiatives of government and extensive deployment of sensors and devices such as mobile phones. This generates huge research opportunities.

In broad terms, data science has two main branches. First, what can we do with the data? Applications of statistics and machine learning fall under this branch. Second, how can we transform existing science with this data and these methods? Much of the second is rooted in mathematics. To make this work in practice, there is a time-consuming first step: making the data useable by combining different sources in different formats. This is known as ‘data wrangling’, which coincidentally is the subject of a new Turing research project to speed up this time-consuming process. The whole field is driven by the power of the computer, and computer science. Understanding the effects of data on society, and the ethical questions it provokes, is led by the social sciences.

All of this combines in the idea of artificial intelligence, or AI. While the ‘machine’ has not yet passed the ‘Turing test’ and cannot compete with humans in thought, in many applications AI and data science now support human decision making. The current buzz phrase for this is ‘augmented intelligence’.

Cross-disciplinary potential

I can illustrate the research potential of data science through two examples, the first from my own field of urban research; the second from medicine – with recent AI research in this field learned, no doubt imperfectly, from my Turing colleague Mihaela van der Schaar.

There is a long history of developing mathematical and computer models of cities. Data arrives very slowly for model calibration – the census, for example, is critical. A combination of open government data and real-time flows from mobile phones and social media networks has changed this situation: real-time calibration is now possible. This potentially transforms both the science and its application in city planning. Machine learning complements, and potentially integrates with, the models. Data science in this case adds to an existing deep knowledge base.

Medical diagnosis is also underpinned by existing knowledge – physiology, cell and molecular biology for example. It is a skilled business, interpreting symptoms and tests. This can be enhanced through data science techniques – beginning with advances in imaging and visualisation and then the application of machine learning to the variety of evidence available. The clinician can add his or her own judgement. Treatment plans follow. At this point, something really new kicks in. ‘Live’ data on patients, including their responses to treatment, becomes available. This data can be combined with personal data to derive clusters of ‘like’ patients, enabling the exploration of the effectiveness of different treatment plans for different types of patients. This combination of data science techniques and human decision making is an excellent example of augmented intelligence. This opens the way to personalised intelligent medicine, which is set to have a transformative effect on healthcare (for those interested in finding out more, reserve a place for Mihaela van der Schaar’s Turing Lecture on 4 May).

An exciting new agenda

These kinds of developments of data science, and the associated applications, are possible in almost all sectors of industry. It is the role of the Alan Turing Institute to explore both the fundamental science underpinnings, and the potential applications, of data science across this wide landscape.

We currently work in fields as diverse as digital engineering, defence and security, computer technology and finance as well as cities and health. This range will expand as this very new Institute grows. We will work with and through universities and with commercial, public and third sector partners, to generate and develop the fruits of data science. This is a challenging agenda but a hugely exciting one.

Artificial Intelligence, Revealed

A few weeks ago I was invited by General Assembly to give a short intro to Data Science to a group of interested (and interesting) students. They all had different backgrounds, but they all shared an interest for technology and related subjects.

While I was explaining some of the differences between supervised and unsupervised machine learning, I used my example of an alien life trying to cluster (and eventually classify) cats and dogs. If you are interested to know more about this, you will probably have to wait for the publication of my “Data Science and Analytics with Python” book.. I digress…

So, Ed Shipley – one of the admissions managers at GA London – asked me and the students if we had seen the videos that Facebook had produced to explain machine learning… He was reminded of them as they use an example about a machine distinguishing between dogs and cars… (see what they did there?…). If you haven’t seen the videos, here you go:

Intro to AI

Machine Learning

Convolutional Neural Nets

First full draft of “Data Science and Analytics with Python”

It has been nearly 12 months in development almost to the day, and I am very please to tell you that the first full draft of my new book entitled “Data Science and Analytics with Python” is ready.

Data Analytics Python

The book is aimed at data enthusiasts and professionals with some knowledge of programming principles as well as developers and business people interested in learning more about data science and analytics The proposed table of contents is as follows:

  1. The Trials and Tribulations of a Data Scientist
  2. Firsts Slithers with Python
  3. The Machine that Goes “Ping”: Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition
  4. The Relationship Conundrum: Regression
  5. Jackalopes and Hares, Unicorns and Horses: Clustering and Classification
  6. Decisions, Decisions: Hierarchical Clustering, Decision Trees and Ensemble Techniques
  7. Dimensionality Reduction and Support Vector Machines

At the moment the book contains 53 figures and 18 tables, plus plenty of bits and pieces of code ready to be tried.

The next step is to start the re-reading, re-draftings and revisions in preparation for the final version and submission to my publisher CRC Press later in the year. I will keep you posted as how things go.

Keep in touch!


How much should we fear the rise of artificial intelligence?

  1. When the arena is something as pure as a board game, where the rules are entirely known and always exactly the same, the results are remarkable. When the arena is something as messy, unrepeatable and ill-defined as actuality, the business of adaptation and translation is a great deal more difficult.

Tom Chatfield

From the opinion article of Tom Chatfiled in The Guardian.

Astronaut Bowman

Artificial Intelligence – Debunking Myths

Exploring around the interwebs, I came across this article by Rupert Goodwins in ArsTechnica about debunking myths about Artificial Intelligence. 

HAL 9000 in the film 2001.

It is a good read and it you have a few minutes to spare, do give it a go.

Rupert addresses the following myths:

  1. AI’s makes machines that can think.
  2. AI will not be bound by human ethics.
  3. AI will get out of control
  4. Breakthroughs in AI will all happen in sudden jumps.

It is true that there are a number of effort to try to replicate (and therefore understand) human thought. Some examples include the Blue Brain project in the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. However, this does not imply that they will get immediately a machine such as HAL or C3-PO.

This is because the brain is fat more complex than the current efforts are able to simulate. As a matter of fact, even simpler brains are significantly more complex for simulation. This does not mean that we should not try to understand and learn how brains work.

Part of the problem is that it is difficult to even define what we mean by “thought”— the so called hard problem. So finding a solution to the strong AI problem is not going to be here soon, but we should definitely try.

So, once that myth is out of the way, the idea that a Terminator-like robot is around the corner is put into perspective. Sure, there are attempts at getting some self-driving cars and such but we are not quite there yet. All in all, it is true that a number of technological advances can be used for good or bad causes, and that is surely something that we all should bear in mind.