“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
― Jim Rohn
Tried to find a better quote but I guess this one resonates more than anything else. With this in mind, I’ve started to take a Data Sciences course in order to delve into something outside of my day to day work. I decided to choose something that I still had a fair amount of interest in. I’ve been following with interest the newfound resurgence of things such as statistics, machine learning, and “big data” and have been meaning to dip my toe into them for a while. For the most part I read up articles shared on Hacker News or watched videos on Coursera on Web Intelligence and Big Data but given the number of false starts I have been having I thought going back to a classroom and being in the presence of a teacher and other students might give me the right amount of nudge to actually complete an initiative.
After doing some research and speaking to a friend, I came across this Data Science class by General Assembly London in Clerkenwell, London. The course has quite a lot of breadth and lasts 10 weeks with 2 3-hour classes a week. London enough to get more than my toe dipped and not long enough to scare me off. So far we have been going at a fairly brisk space on common functions and algorithms (using R) associated with Classification and Categorization. The coming weeks will introduce machine learning using Python and use them in such topics as dimensionality reduction, decision trees, recommendation systems, and social network analysis. Although it’s the scope of the course is not to describe the statistical and mathematical theories behind the functions and concepts used, I’m finding it is providing me with a lot of opportunities to think and explore things that I might have come across during my engineering program at university but not quite paid attention to. Some of the math is probably beyond undergraduate or graduate math but it’s still interesting to be able to read about those as explained to the lay person. I’m hoping some of the practical skills and techniques will help in analytics type situations I run into but I’m also hoping to be inspired into looking at some new jobs and opportunities that will take me out of my current role as a developer/architect of web content management solutions.
Next up, Big Data. I’m currently also teaching myself about MongoDB and Cassandra so as to familiarize myself with the more popular big data databases. Time permitting I’d like to get to meet some people who actually work in Big Data using Hadoop and related technologies. I’ve earmarked a course by Cloudera for that so that’ll at least equip me with the base level language and concepts to look at opportunities in this market.
– Sarwar Bhuiyan