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MancML @ Auto Trader

May 16, 2017


MancML returned for our third installment on Thursday 11th May hosted by Auto Trader.

Last night we had another sold out MancML and personally my favourite event so far. It was great to see so many people from the previous two events, it’s really encouraging to see the enthusiasm for Machine Learning in Manchester. We had a few new faces in the audience as well and from the feedback I got, everyone seemed to have a great time.


A quick thank you to Auto Trader again for hosting, the event space was incredible and the food, well that was just amazing. We definitely undersold it pre-event, ‘nibbles’ is probably the understatement of the year - for those of you who missed out, we had: handmade pizzas, hot dogs, pomegranate salad and lots more!


Andrew from Auto Trader was up first in our line-up of speakers and although only 4 months into his role with the company, he delivered an accomplished presentation on how they approach some of the problems they face. It was interesting to hear the various ways the team at Auto Trader are approaching Data Science and how they apply that to accurately price the hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the site. Andrew also showed us a model using real Auto Trader data using Gaussian Process Regression, comparing that with a simpler Linear Regression model - which in this case worked much better.


Up next we had Dominic, Chief Data Scientist at INRIX. Dom gave us an in-depth look at how INRIX approach mapping out cities to make searching for a parking space much easier - ‘Mapping the face of the City: neighbourhood identification using PCA’. With a relaxed presentation style and ability to break down what they are doing even to the simplest of minds (that’s me …) it was very well received.


After a short break - in which we devoured the aforementioned ‘nibbles’ we got back into the swing of things with Steven from autosermo talking about Chatbots and how to implement them in the real world. Although we had a couple of technical difficulties we did get to see a real Chatbot working and everyone had a go at interacting with the bot. Steven talked about the potential for Chatbots in a variety of industries, with autosermo working closely with MEN to encourage people to register to vote using a bot. The big thing I took away from Steven’s talk was the potential use of bots in the Charity sector, where having someone available to talk to 24/7 could literally save lives.


Last but by no means was least MancML and’s own Erik Mathieson who delivered a funny, technical and insightful talk on Deep Learning. Erik did pre-warn everyone in the audience that some math would be coming our way - he was not lying. Fortunately for him, I was the only one who struggled to keep up, with everyone else seeming to really enjoy the more in-depth look at Neural Networks.


That concluded another packed session! Straight after the last talk we had people asking about the next meet-up which was lovely to hear. We don’t have anything set in stone, however, we will be back sometime in August - everything will be announced on our Twitter and website.


If you can’t wait until then we are expanding internationally (well Scotland …) with our first event in Edinburgh penciled in for July 6th and is being hosted by Amazon. Tickets for this will be extremely limited so again keep an eye on our social media for updates.


Thanks again to everyone who came along and of course the wonderful Auto Trader, & Cathcart Associates.


Lots of love,


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