The weekly SILO Seminar Series is made possible through the generous support of the 3M Company and its Advanced Technology Group


with additional support from the Analytics Group of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual

Machine Learning: Art or Science?

Shivani Agarwal, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science

Date and Time: Dec 02, 2015 (12:30 PM)
Location: Orchard room (3280) at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Building


The notion of machines that can learn has caught imaginations since the days of the early computer. In recent years, as we face burgeoning amounts of data around us that no human mind can process, machines that can learn to automatically find insights from such vast amounts of data have become a growing necessity. The field of machine learning is a modern marriage between computer science and statistics, and is the soul behind what is increasingly termed “data science”. But, is machine learning a science or an art? While I won’t answer the question fully, I’ll argue that with a scientific approach, machine learning is indeed a science, and a beautiful and powerful one at that: it has rigorous mathematics at its core, its judicious use allows us to make various kinds of impact on society, and its exploration together with other natural and social sciences allows us to uncover surprising natural and social phenomena. I’ll illustrate these ideas with examples from our
work on foundations of supervised learning, applications in predicting anticancer drug response in patients, and connections with social sciences in understanding how we make choices.