Author Archive
Quick Hit: 100 Days of Divided Attention

Quick Hit: 100 Days of Divided Attention

The week before the 2016 election, I proposed my dissertation. I had ambitious goals and I was ready to put in the work to achieve them. A December 2017 graduation date was in my sights. But on November 9th, I entered into an unfamiliar brain state: constant, low-level panic. An itching feeling that I needed...
Quick Hit: Bad Advice from a Bad Mentor

Quick Hit: Bad Advice from a Bad Mentor

As anyone in a PhD program knows, your experience is highly dependent on your relationship with your advisor. We discussed in our earlier post, How to Choose a PhD Advisor, ways to hopefully make the “right” (best?) choice. While there are many advisors in the world, not all can be called mentors. The difference is...
Neurons 101

Neurons 101

Neurons are the building blocks of the brain. They take information they receive from upstream neurons and summarize it as a spike that is sent  to downstream neurons. (image courtesy of wikimedia commons) Let’s talk about the anatomy of neurons:   Nucleus: Like any cell in your body, each neuron has a nucleus, where its...
What should an intro to machine learning course look like?

What should an intro to machine learning course look like?

As we gear up for another semester, once again the “Introduction to Machine Learning” course offered by CMU is filled to capacity, with a long waitlist to boot.  It has become overwhelmingly one of the most popular courses for graduate students at CMU – several departments even list it as a required course. Why so...
ML Ethics and the "Criminal Detector"

ML Ethics and the “Criminal Detector”

Confession: I roll my eyes whenever someone says the word ‘singularity.’ As awesome frightening as it would be to have computers take over the world, the fear of that potential future distracts from the more pressing ethical concerns surrounding machine learning and AI today. Edward Snowden alerted everyone in the US to the possibility that...
How a Machine Learner Should Approach a Neuroscientist

How a Machine Learner Should Approach a Neuroscientist

Image from Mitchell, Tom M., et al. “Predicting human brain activity associated with the meanings of nouns.” science 320.5880 (2008): 1191-1195. Machine learners are always on the prowl for new datasets to analyze. Neuroscientists are forever searching for new techniques to help make the most of their data. Naturally, there’s been an explosion of collaborations between...