8/31/2014

My View of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning

Read a tweet today, Information of Things surpassed Big Data on the Hype Cycle.

Which is interesting, because my interest in Hadoop has fallen over the past few months.  I initially liked it because it was new territory, had value in handling unstructured data and large volumes.

Except I don't have unstructured data or large volumes.  And I never got to work on a project that had Hadoop.  As far as setting up and administering a cluster (Hadoop DBA) or developing HIVE or PIG or Flume or whatever.

It's like the best Christmas gift (or Chanukah gift) never opened.  And now every Tom Dick and Harry is entering the space which is getting a little too crowded for me.

However, my real interest has always been Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks and Machine Learning.  So when I watched the following video on Microsoft Azure Machine Learning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQojmRevsdE

It kind of sparked my creativity again.  So today I watched another video on the subject:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sbrand/archive/2014/07/22/tutorial-how-to-train-a-neural-network-with-azure-machine-learning.aspx

My basic takeaways are this.

They've removed the need to program advanced algorithms.  So no PhD in Math required.
They've removed the need to program essentially.

In that the entire process can be performed within a web browser.

First you upload your data set, or use an existing data set.  You simply add the data set to your project, start dragging and dropping and connecting steps into your workflow from the huge list of available options.

Which means you kind of have to know what each of the the widgets do.  As in Classification, Clustering and Regression for starters, but then some of advanced algorithms and what they do as well.

Microsoft Azure Machine Learning is tightly integrated into Azure so there's the single sign in, connectors to BloB Storage, Azure Tables and SQL Azure as well as Hive and Hadoop.

So those two factors, single sign on and web browser based are huge factors.

Throw in the full life cycle processing, no need to learn advanced Mathematics or Programming and I see this as the future.

Plus the ability to move to production within minutes, having it build a REST API consumable by c# code for programmers to send in data and receive a result based on the trained model, or you can send batches of data and receive a batch back.

However, I'll still need to get up to speed on deeper understanding of Statistics, how to interpret the results and what kinds of projects to work on.

Anyway you look at it, this stuff is awesome~!

Babalon