Thursday, February 28, 2013

Machine learning for Internet

I have a passion for eClub and startups, but I also do research with my students. I would like to share with you some thoughts about our strategy.

I have a team of doctoral, MSc and BSc students working mainly on Internet apps. Most of our projects are in machine learning, some in infrastructure (cloud), provisioning and the rest are mobile applications. We are lucky, because all of these are of high interest for many industries today.

What are the essential ingredients for our research? For machine learning we need data, actually we need big data. Big data needs big infrastructure.

What is the industry situation? The leading Internet companies have pioneered big data processing and currently are capitalizing on this success. Many have developed large data centers and many are offering them as a service, but the smart algorithms are kept in house. There are many medium and small companies generating large data, but without smart algorithms. They do not have the research resources, investments and know-how to develop them.

Our target is to develop useful applications and algorithms. For that we need to understand what are our customers needs. They are very different in different, sometimes the law requires physical location of data in the home country or in EU. Some want to keep all the data on premises. Sometimes the customer needs to use both public as well as private resources. Every company has the data in different format. Each company wants to extract different information from data.

What should we do at universities?  We have to find partners in the industry to get the big data and good problem formulation.

Who are the best partners for university? These are the companies who generate the big data, who already feel the need for smart SW and who want to differentiate on the market. We must look at companies with established internal processes, who understand that the university can deliver the algorithm but cannot be responsible for integration or product delivery.

We can research custom solutions for our partners. The open source is another important distribution channel for university  The open source smart algorithms must stick to standards. To make the algorithms useful for medium and small companies we need to offer the solutions along with platforms for building, provisioning, managing and monitoring. The tools must run on popular APIs, for example AWS, which is becoming a standard for cloud.

The companies needs for data location and processing will differ. Some will require keeping the data in particular locations on private or hybrid clouds. These requirements are best satisfied deploying to open source cloud operating systems (Eucalyptus, OpenStack, …), which can be easily installed on private clouds. But the provisioning and management systems are nonexistent or in their infancy. This is opening another track for research and development of smart algorithms along with provisioning, management and monitoring easy to deploy to standard clouds. In addition these offering must install on private, public and hybrids cloud too.

Here is the conclusion: search the partners who can share the big data with us and help them designing smart applications. For other customers provide smart applications with provisioning, managing and monitoring on open source clouds.

BTW I am looking for new doctoral students ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Next week the eClub starts new series.

eClubbers suggested many projects, new, inspiring ideas, demonstrated good skills and it only remains to turn the ideas to a profitable business. Here comes the eClub again with a new series of lean startup presentations. 

We start next Tuesday, join us. The invited speaker Is Karel Obluk. He is an investor and long time AVG CTO. He will specifically focus on the role of high education for building successsf startups in the opening session. His speech will come in a very specific moment. You may have noticed it too. The Cognitive Security startup was sold to Cisco and Karel was one of the team members who helped with the exit. Great success, congratulation to the whole team. In my view, this sets the best example for all eClubbers. Cognitive Security was originated by CTU PhD students and their professors. The principal know-how comes from a CTU PhD dissection. CS is a high-tech company created by real scientists with smart ideas and great enthusiasm for research. This is the kind of companies we all should shoot for. The top quality of their ideas and solutions is proved by the fact that they were bought by an Internet communication leading company such as Cisco. This exit is a great win not only for CS, but for the whole startup community in the Czech Republic. The initial investor was Credo Ventures, who also helped to start eClub.

What to do now? eClubbers we have to copy it. The know-how comes from CTU doctoral study and research. And the business part? Here comes eClub, we want to help all of you who are interested in high-tech to complement the top professional skills with the businessk know-how. We want to help you with the basics of how to create a company and repeat the success of CS.

How to do it? We have decided to follow the leabn startup movement pioneered by Steven Blank professor at Stadford university. It is a proven system. The lean start up movement has many followers all over the world these days. It is introducing the required steps for creating successful business. The most attracting for me is that the theory is based on the scientific approach. The same approaches as we use in research. First we have hypothesis then we need to prove it by an experiment. Our series will show what are the business hypothesis and what are the right experiments to prove them or pivoting. By the way if you do not know what is pivoting, join us we will explain. During the course we also would like to let you simulate or test your ideas at the end of presentations. In the middle of the course there will be a dry run presentation in front of your peers to test how well you can communicate your idea. We plan to have tutors to validate your steps. We assume you will work in teams. If you do not have team, do not get nervouse join us you will meet new friends in the networking sessions to create a new team. We have a simple advice: Follow lean startup steps, join us for the presentations and we quarantee you will avoid many mistakes and get much faster to a match between your product and customers. 

On top of all this we will organize a competition for the best idea with great prices. The final presentation is planned for May. Join us Tuesday Feb 19th at 18:30 in the Era Svet Jungmannovo nam. The following presentations will be on Thursdays in the same place.