Machine Learning (Theory)

1/25/2006

1 year

Tags: Research jl@ 12:34 am

At the one year (+5 days) anniversary, the natural question is: “Was it helpful for research?”

Answer: Yes, and so it shall continue.

Some evidence is provided by noticing that I am about a factor of 2 more overloaded with paper ideas than I’ve ever previously been. It is always hard to estimate counterfactual worlds, but I expect that this is also a factor of 2 more than “What if I had not started the blog?”

As for “Why?”, there seem to be two primary effects.

  1. A blog is a mechanism for connecting with people who either think like you or are interested in the same problems. This allows for concentration of thinking which is very helpful in solving problems.
  2. The process of stating things you don’t understand publicly is very helpful in understanding them. Sometimes you are simply forced to express them in a way which aids understanding. Sometimes someone else says something which helps. And sometimes you discover that someone else has already solved the problem.

There are drawbacks which should not be minimized.

  1. A great deal of accumulated time and effort goes into writing posts.
  2. Stress. Telling coauthors “I’m sorry, but I don’t have much time to actually write.” is not at all fun. And the wrists are hurting.

One of the things that I thought would be a problem was running out of ideas for posts, but this just didn’t happen. I’m hoping to have more posts by others over the next year to help relieve (1). (Also, I often find the posts of occasional posters more interesting.) Problem (2) is just an ill of success that must be coped with.

Some statistics:

  1. posts 1 every 2 days, on average (150)
  2. comments 3/post on average (492)
  3. posters 10
  4. registered users 72
  5. visits per day About 2000 (some uncertainty due to sharing of webserver with less-used sites).
  6. unique IP addreses per month Perhaps 7000 (uncertainty due to same source).

I’ve been surprised by the growth of traffic to the site. It is odd to realize that a post here is seen by more people than a talk at even the largest machine learning conference. Radically more effort goes into any talk at nearly any conference.

Please comment on any particular thoughts, suggestions, changes, for the new year or the last.

5 Comments to “1 year”
  1. elrania says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR & THE COMING CHINESE SPRING FESTIVAL
    got tons of valuable information from ur’s blog.

  2. Huzefa says:

    I think your blog is certainly very thought provoking. There could be a machine learning place just like slashdot, where say the best posts by large number of users get linked to provide the best of machine learning

  3. nicolas.le.roux says:

    I was just wondering to what extent this could be the place to tell everyone “I got this idea, my work is at a very early stage, what do you think about it and would you be interested in working with me.”

    Is it a possibility you’d like to have and would you rather stick with sharing news ?

  4. jl says:

    The truth is, we don’t really know how to use blogs with research very well yet, so I’m entirely willing to experiment with new ways.

  5. Sanjoy Dasgupta says:

    John, I’m glad to hear you have benefitted from this blog; but the real beneficiaries of your efforts are all the rest of us. This site has been a endless source of interesting opinions, paper references, and research ideas. My heartfelt thanks!

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