A 50-week-long online programme on Foundations of Modern Machine Learning designed for the benefit of undergraduate engineering students in India, got underway at IIIT Hyderabad today.
Prof P J Narayanan, Director of IIIT Hyderabad, inaugurated the programme. In the inaugural address, Prof P J Narayanan said that IIIT Hyderabad had been around for 23 years, where students and scholars who studied at the campus, had performed exceptionally well in data-driven technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing and other allied domains, most of whom are doing well across the globe. The idea to scale up this process and address the issue of reaching out to a wider audience had finally materialised after a long gestation period, which involved series of discussions, investigations and inquiries.
The year-long programme has students drawn from all parts of the country, with a fair mix of gender and from different socio-economic settings. Prof P J Narayanan called upon the students to make best use of the presence of accomplished teachers and teaching associates in the programme and prepare themselves for serious engagement with research in these domains. Explaining the rationale behind planning such an online programme, Prof C V Jawahar, Dean (R&D), IIIT Hyderabad and Smart Mobility Head, IHub-Data mentioned that despite the availability of a plethora of online courses, public resources and utilities, there was always a dearth of professionals in Machine Learning, who could solve problems for industry or who could take up research problems.
A glaring omission, especially visible in the popular massive online modes of learning, is the absence of professional/personal mentoring system. For instance, if the way to an optimal solution for a machine-learning problem needed 100 different iterations all of which are resource-intensive and time-consuming, a mentor could be of great help in pointing out the 99 wrong ones. Prof Jawahar mentioned that the pedagogy for this online programme had been designed to provide more avenues for human-to-human interaction between learners and mentors.
Presiding over the inaugural ceremony, Prof U Deva Priyakumar, Academic Head, IHub-Data, IIIT Hyderabad, which is currently executing this online programme, mentioned how IHub has been at the forefront in promoting research on data-driven technologies and its translation to products, in order to cater to the wider needs of both the research community as well as other important stakeholders in the society at large.
The 50-week long programme consists of lecture sessions, practical sessions, invited talks by experts and also a few social gatherings. The programme is expected to conclude in September next year.