NIPS 2015: few things to note, thoughts, moments

It has been a good NIPS. I got my visa at the last minute (I wasn’t decisive on going since I don’t have anything to contribute this year and I can not decide fast).  I am kind of glad that I put in the effort in getting it,  it was my first NIPS without any networking pressure, so I was able to channel more thoughts more on the good stuff. Here are few papers that I will probably go back and read:

Estimating Mixture Models via Mixtures of Polynomials
Sida Wang · Arun Tejasvi Chaganty · Percy S Liang
Automatic Variational Inference in Stan
Alp Kucukelbir · Rajesh Ranganath · Andrew Gelman · David Blei
   -might make life slightly easier for me
Matrix Manifold Optimization for Gaussian Mixtures
Reshad Hosseini · Suvrit Sra
   -interested in manifold optimization in general
Sparse and Low-Rank Tensor Decomposition
Parikshit Shah · Nikhil Rao · Gongguo Tang
    -I like tensors and factorizations
Mixing Time Estimation in Reversible Markov Chains from a Single Sample Path
Daniel J Hsu · Aryeh Kontorovich · Csaba Szepesvari
    -I like chains of Markov, and my advisor is an author
Gradient Estimation Using Stochastic Computation Graphs
John Schulman · Nicolas Heess · Theophane Weber · Pieter Abbeel
     -had a good conversation during the poster presentation
Besides technical stuff I am really glad that they had the symposium on societal impacts of machine learning. I liked the discussions in general and I am particularly happy that they talked about economic consequences  of AI. I highly recommend checking out the talk by  Erik Brynjolfsson on the subject once the talks get uploaded. The idea I got is, although the GDP saw a rise after AI, the median income person regressed few steps in the social ladder: It seems like AI is indeed helping the rich get richer. I would have liked them to talk more on this problem, but they rather allocated more time on singularity and similar catchy topics.
Here’s the symposium website by the way:
On a more personal note, I liked the week in Montreal. I have been able to contemplate on few general things about people, me and few general things. It seems like I may be able to find solace in pure curiosity. On another note, after few interactions during this week, I am more and more getting inclined to think that people are inherently ‘good’ beings and it pays off to getting to reach out to that inner ‘goodness’. – yeah sounds naive- Connecting with people is definitely a winding road with no convergence guarantee, but it no doubt deserves a try . People do seem and act far from promising – even despicably-  at times, but I guess I don’t see the point in raising the levels of hostility at this point in time. Note that I am saying all these things for a species which is on the verge of planetary suicide.
Here are few moments from the week in Montreal:
There was way too many people!
Will algorithms help these guys?IMG_2528.JPG
Seems like we are not alleviating the income inequality – from the algorithms among us symposium
even more disturbing..
not all ‘machines’ are inorganic..IMG_2585.JPG
this is not related to the conference except that it was in ‘palais des congres’. I like the colors.
Please do comment, suggest papers, share thoughts if you want to..


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