A Revival of Sorts

Saturday was the unveiling of the Computer History Museum's Difference Engine. Unfortunately, I missed it because I was half-zonked on the couch all day with something like strep throat. That was a bummer, but it's okay, I had a bit of a religious revival.

Trolling around Google Video for something interesting, I came across Google's Tech Talks again. A total gold mine (and it'd be even better if people knew how to use microphones).

Supporting Scalable Online Statistical Processing was really interesting, about using statistical mechanisms and randomized algorithms to numerically optimize really hard SQL queries. I recommend it as a different way of thinking about working with large datasets.

However, the really significant talk for me was The Next Generation of Neural Networks, by Geoffrey Hinton. In it, he presents a new twist on good ole connectionism. This is one hell of a demo, despite the Chomsky-esque annoying political asides.

"I am interested in what you say and would like to subscribe to your newsletter." It reaffirms my belief in the plausibility of neural networks. There's a long way to go until they're practical, but this demo makes it clear that the promise is still there. I'm back in the fold, I believe again. No pulpit-pounding required, no fire and brimstone. Just the promise of heaven in a clean, intuitive, fundamentally simple model.

The best part, though, is that they publish all the code for this on his website. Unfortunately, it's in Matlab; fortunately, it runs in octave. When I've been up to it (ie: the few hours I was less feverish Sunday), I've started porting it to C++ with GSL, mostly to fully understand the underlying structure.

For now, though, I should get back to sleep. Tomorrow morning: to the doctor's, then hopefully to work. I've run out of watchable movies on Netflix on-demand, and, quite frankly, can't stand the idea of sleeping away another day when there's cool stuff to be done.