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Bloomberg's big move on machine learning and open source

George Nott | Oct. 18, 2017
The company's head of data science, Gideon Mann, on the work behind 'The Terminal'

The organisation took some convincing, but, championed by the CTO, there has been a "huge culture change" towards open source.

"There are two groups you got to convince: you've got to convince management that using open source is going to be safe and lead to better software, and then you also have to convince engineers that using open source is going to increase their skillset, will lead to software that's easier to maintain and is less buggy and it's going to be a more beautiful system. Once you can kind of convince those two then you're set," Mann says.

The company is an active contributor to projects including Solr, Hadoop, Apache Spark and Open Stack.

"I don't think you can be a leading edge technology company these days without being heavily invested in open source and without being - especially in the machine learning space - heavily invested in the academic community and in publishing."


Big buzz

Although there is certainly a lot of buzz around machine learning, Mann believes it is well founded.

"It's funny. There's certainly a lot of hype around machine learning and data science right now. As a cautious person my inclination would be to be cynical, but my cynicism is tempered by the fact that when I look at what we know in the state of the art in academia, and what is in practice - there's a phenomenally huge gap," he says.

"I feel like if we didn't learn anything new it would take five, 10 years for all of that learning to get integrated. This actually makes me very optimistic about the prognosis for machine learning, that it will really have a huge effect."


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