Big Fan mail for 2020 course, and disclaimer

Wow. My last exposure to this excellent course series was in 2018, after which I’ve stayed peripherally connected but really have been “off doing my own thing” since then research-wise and learning from others elsewhere.

I recently returned to the fastaiv2 library and nbdev in the process of planning out the code & teaching for my own university-based DL course this fall, for which I’d decided to base it on using Colab and/or Gradient, coding in “PyTorch and a bit of fastai for convenience”, after eschewing Lightning for [you know] and noting that JAX, while gaining popularity among researchers, didn’t have yet have a mature-enough ecosystem of “tools” for for the things I wanted to do with the students.

And what I wanted to do were some things I’d done in my previous ML course (e.g. integrated ethics), but “new” things like:

  • dataset building and cleaning (influenced by Justin Salamon of Adobe),
  • visualization tools (influenced via contacts at Facebook) for weights & activations, and saliency/attribution/intepretability
  • model deployment (via local ML developers in my city, & 2018-era,
  • specific advice for people in business (influenced by contacts at Seattle U., and the fact that my course is co-listed in the Business school)…
  • embeddings and zero-shot classifiers (b/c been writing a book on classification!)
  • Emphasize Transfer Learning (totally influenced by alone!)

…Familiar, right? I did not even know the first 4 things were now such highly developed parts of the course—and I celebrated news of your book release but haven’t even looked at it yet—, until two days ago @NathanSepulveda hit me up on Twitter about the project he’s building as part of the course, while I was in the middle of building my own graphical dataset-curation tool to use on Colab, and trying to build my own library via nbdev for the first time & posting to these forums about learning nbdev, but still not having viewed the 2020 course. I wasn’t even planning to watch the 2020 course, but after interacting with Nathan I started it yesterday, and…

OH MY GOODNESS. It is so good! Watching Jeremy is like…watching a concert by a virtuoso musician, only it’s a performance of “deep learning education”. Even the little “side” comments are right on time and apropos. So, soo good. Wow. Jeremy, Rachel, Sylvain: Be encouraged! I won’t “at” you, but I hope you see this post. Thanks for your work and service. Hope things go well in Australia & at HuggingFace.

So, then, the Disclaimer:
Talk about “ideas are rarely new or original”: My data-scraping and cleaning tools don’t look like like yours but are similarly Jupyter widget-based interactive GUIs. So…In teaching my own course, I will freely & liberally attribute & cite whatever I glean as I continue viewing the 2020 course (& other courses by others), and won’t claim that things in my course would be “first”…and I certainly won’t do any weird slander like the Lightning gang… but also just in case: Please don’t “come after me” if I don’t cite every feature that also includes, as some of these ideas I’d already had “independently” or via other people (again, I won’t be making any claims of originality or precedence). And I’ll continue contributing to the community here – particularly, I’ll be encouraging the audio grad students to come to me, to help with fastai-audio.

Also my starting my own little nbdev-based DL-teaching library for packaging together “things I like” will in no sense be intended to compete with or snub; it’ll just be more of a separate workspace for me & my students, where I don’t have to wait for Pull Requests to pass’s amazingly-crafted set of standards while I’m developing.

Looking forward to lessons 4 onward!

P.S.- Oh hey: The “first draft” version of my course will be available for free late this summer; “freely ye have received, freely give.” Again, not to compete with—that would be impossible LOL—but if anyone would want to check it out, I’d be happy to share a link when it’s ready. There will be an autograder. :wink: