The University of Maryland has launched a multidisciplinary center that uses powerful computing tools to address challenges in big data, computer vision, health care, financial transactions and more.
Machine learning uses algorithms and statistical models so that computer systems can effectively perform a task without explicit instructions, relying instead on patterns and inference. At UMD, for example, computer vision experts are “training” computers to identify and match key facial characteristics by having machines analyze millions of images publicly available on social media.
The center officially launched with a workshop last month featuring talks and panel discussions from machine learning experts in auditory systems, biology and medicine, business, chemistry, natural language processing, and security.
Initial funding for the center comes from the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) and UMIACS, which will provide technical and administrative support.
An inaugural partner of the center, financial and technology leader Capital One, provided additional support, including endowing three faculty positions in machine learning and computer science. Those positions received matching funding from the state’s Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative. Capital One has also provided funding for research projects that align with the organization’s need to stay on the cutting edge in areas like fraud detection and enhancing the customer experience with more personalized, real-time features.
David Jacobs, a professor of computer science with an appointment in UMIACS, will serve as interim director of the new center. To jumpstart the center’s activities, Jacobs has recruited a core group of faculty members in computer science and UMIACS: John Dickerson, Soheil Feizi, Thomas Goldstein, Furong Huang and Aravind Srinivasan. Faculty members from mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, linguistics, and data science are also heavily involved in machine learning applications, and Jacobs said he expects many of them to be active in the center through direct or affiliate appointments.
“We want the center to be a focal point across the campus where faculty, students, and visiting scholars can come to learn about the latest technologies and theoretical applications based in machine learning,” he said.
Key to the center’s success will be a robust computational infrastructure that is needed to perform complex computations involving massive amounts of data. UMIACS technical staff is already supporting multiple machine learning activities in computer vision and computational linguistics.
Plans call for CMNS, UMIACS and other organizations to invest substantially in new computing resources for the machine learning center, Jacobs added.
Amitabh Varshney, professor of computer science and dean of CMNS, said the center will be a valuable resource for the state of Maryland and the region—both for students seeking the latest knowledge and skills and for companies wanting professional development training for their employees.
“We have new educational activities planned by the college that include professional master’s programs in machine learning and data science and analytics,” Varshney said. “We want to leverage our location near numerous federal agencies and private corporations that are interested in expanding their workforce capabilities in these areas.”
This article originally appeared on UMD Right Now.
April 16, 2019