Water for the Martian

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Image courtesy: The Telegraph

I got sick in my graduation week. And I missed my graduation. But every cloud has a silver lining. I could finish the book I was reading and finish another in few days. I could read as I wish after quite some time since the usual work was too tiring for me. Latter one I read was The Martian. It was not the most complete and sophisticated sci-fi I have ever read, rather it was simple and fun. The book did an impressive job in keeping me engaged with Mark Watney on Martian surface which had no water. I look forward for the movie, but usually the movie of a book is just the tip of an iceberg. This is how I reviewed The Martian on Goodreads.

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been sometime since I finished a book in one go (and I had time for that). The Martian did that! If you think this is another boring/exhausting science fiction specially because it is ‘hard science fiction’, it’s not! Mark Watney is a pretty fun guy to be with.

Yesterday NASA announced that they have found liquid water on Mars under certain circumstances. Whatever the circumstances, I feel sorry for the poor guy Watney, he had a rough time preserving water for his 549 sol days.

Science is a wonderful thing. No matter from which corner of the world you are, science will show you an amazing world if you show some passion towards it. I remember Pathfinder finding its way on red planet surface. I was curious, but my age kept me away from being too curious. More recently Curiosity made me far more curious about the whole cause of space travel. It ended up Curiosity (and Mars Science Laboratory) landing in the slide deck of a presentation I did for upper school students on power of code. It might not be the most relevant example, but I really wanted to share this scientific masterpiece with them to arouse their curiosity. It was not a total waste.

Elon Musk (again!) was recently called as a super villain by Stephen Colbert just because he has a fast way to warm up Mars to make it livable for humans. Having few organizations working on the first step of Mars colonization, sending humans to Mars in near future, I feel yesterday’s announcement is timely. May be the media and public attention is yet to come, but we should appreciate every person who is behind, creating our future while sacrificing their own. Let it be man on the moon or water on Mars, these things don’t happen overnight. It’s easy for us to watch a press conference streamed over web. Yet again what we watch is the tip of an iceberg. Underneath there’s work done by thousands people for hundreds of days, may be for generations. We were born here on planet earth, probably humankind is not destined to die here. Let’s enjoy the moment. Mars is being nice to us!

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Colombo Machine Intelligence Meetup: Let’s get together and talk!

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I have been talking a lot about machine learning lately. It’s no coincidence things happened that way. Machine learning is what I am getting paid for and it is something that I really look forward.

As I wrote somewhere else, machine learning is taking over the world. Luckily it’s not machines taking over. One thing might lead to another. But we can discuss it later, hopefully we have some time. Machine intelligence (I prefer the term machine intelligence over artificial intelligence or machine learning for the mere reason; it sounds like both) is becoming a part of our lives day by day. It was inevitable and finally it is happening. From research to business, fiction to news. But as a country our readiness for this new wave of technology is quite questionable. Do we have a dedicated community or a place to meet and discuss about this prevailing topic anywhere in Sri Lanka? We have few closed spaces. But not an open space to talk about, share or learn machine intelligence.

When I was an intern at my current workplace one year ago, this idea hit me with a sudden awe; why don’t we have a meetup for machine intelligence yet!? For those who are not familiar with meetup.com, this is how Wikipedia introduces it.

“Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.”

This might not be the most innovative idea you have ever heard. But it works surprisingly well despite of its not-for-free model. We already have over 50 meetups in Sri Lanka on different topics. Naturally, most of them are related to technology. Tech folks catch up sooner than others. Personally I want to see meetups on other topics as well, preferably on science and literature. One year back in time we had meetups for almost every hyped-up technology: big data, cloud computing and IoT. Now we have meetups for lesser known topics too, such as Go language and Bitcoin. Yet no shadow of anything related to machine learning, artificial intelligence or data science. I shared this idea with few other machine intelligence enthusiasts I personally knew back then. They showed a huge interest in both initiating and contributing. And I became part of the WSO2 Machine Learner team. Still it took almost a year to materialize. Finally, we have a meetup on machine intelligence and this is how we introduce it to everyone.

“This meetup is for all researchers, industry experts, academics, students and enthusiasts who are passionate about this astounding field, MACHINE INTELLIGENCE. Want to learn more about machine intelligence theory and applications? Looking for your next research idea in AI? Looking for colleagues for your machine learning start up? Want to share your AI/ML knowledge and experience with wannabe experts? Trying to figure out best tools and and technologies for your analytics task? You think machine intelligence will be the next big thing? This is the place for you! Let’s get together and talk!”

Within few days the group has attracted few dozens of members even without spreading the word around. We can safely say that what we are trying to do was missing in the picture. We hope to achieve several goals/objectives through this meetup.

  • Create a collaborative platform for machine intelligence industry and researchers.
  • Encourage and support ongoing and new research in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Share knowledge and recent advancements of machine intelligence.
  • Introducing opportunities and resources to the followers of this field.
  • Create a common platform to network with experts and enthusiasts.

These might sound bit serious, but what we are going to do is simply talk, share and learn. We already have people working on machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science in different ways. Most of the leading IT companies in Sri Lanka have started shipping machine learning components in their products, others following with R&D. Academics and researchers have been working in the field of AI for sometime. Students from both state and private universities have been showing a huge interest in learning basics and getting involved. But all these entities seem to be working in there own spaces, in isolation. Missing part here was the common ground to collaborate. A meetup fits into this gap perfectly, at least for now. It provides a space, most importantly offline, to meet and collaborate with peers who are involved and interested in a particular area. We are planning to focus on all the aspects of machine intelligence including theoretical background, research, tools, applications and opportunities. We will be having our first meetup very soon. And we will have no boundaries only the genuine interest in learning and popularizing this next big wave of technology. I’ll just drop an interview with Elon Musk a.k.a. real life Iron Man below and you will know what I’m talking.

All machine intelligence enthusiasts, unite!

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WSO2 Machine Learner: Machine Learning for Everyone

Machine learning is everywhere. If you do not agree, you have not noticed. It is everywhere. It’s inside your smartphone, web browser, smart watch if you use one, car very soon, and the list goes on making it simply everywhere. Machine learning has become one of the things which decides the future of mankind in one way or another. There was a time when artificial intelligence, the superset of machine learning, was something we read in science fiction. But not anymore.

Never heard of what I am talking? Do a simple Google search and you will end up with thousands of definitions, tutorials, articles and maybe some news on recent ML startup acquisitions. Google itself uses machine learning to bring all that to your web browser. So what is WSO2 Machine Learner? Why you should care?

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WSO2 is one of the leading middleware companies in the world with a very unique business model. Let’s keep details aside, I’ll just say that they (or we) develop products that are free and open source. We offer a complete stack of middleware products which are used by top enterprises of the world for integration to API management to real-time analytics. WSO2 Machine Learner is the newest addition to the stack to make machine learning closer to everyone. When we say everyone we mean it. If you feel like trying out the product even before reading the rest of this post, go try it out! If you think you should look at the code and even make some changes to it, go fork it from Github!

Spaces: Community and tools

Glad you decided to continue. In this post I would like to take a step back from my developer role and look at our own product from a typical ML user’s perspective. You might be a researcher, developer or even a CEO who is interested in trying out machine learning in your next venture. Reading this will give you an idea why WSO2 Machine Learner can be one of the best choices you make when it comes to machine learning.

There are different communities in machine learning. Mainly there are researchers who make this field what it is and decide its shape in future, developers who apply the theoretical work done by latter in practical problems using dedicated tools and there are industry people who look at this field as a new opportunity to grow their businesses. CXOs might fall into the last category. Interestingly in machine learning, these entities usually overlap, making highly research oriented CEOs and scientists developing industry solutions. Most of the top scientists in machine learning (and deep learning recently) are leading the industry towards catering more futuristic products to end user with AI/ML. At the same time top machine learning startups have been initiated mainly by the best researchers of this field.

To make all these a reality, we need tools. Tools which let all these entities work more efficiently and effortlessly. If you look at that space, where ML tools are scattered, once again you will notice more distinct regions. There are products that are very easy to use and intuitive, but most of the time they are not free. And there are products that are very powerful and extensible, but you will have to get your hands dirty (dig into code and make changes). Most of the tools used by researchers fall into this category. No disrespect, they have their reasons use them (I had my own). Another set of tools will give you an amazing set of visualizations with a very user friendly UI, but not enterprise ready. If you are looking for all of the above today, you will not end up with many choices. We truly hope that this will change soon. And instead of just of hoping we thought of building a one, to deliver most of them today and more in future.

How WSO2 Machine Learner helps?

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WSO2 Machine Learner workflow

WSO2 Machine Learner is powered by Apache Spark, popular and powerful large scale data processing engine. All the machine learning algorithms available in WSO2 ML are running Spark engine at the product core. With the recent boost from IBM we can safely say that Spark is here to stay, at least for a while. All the widely used classification, regression and clustering algorithms are available in WSO2 ML with a user interface that will make you think machine learning is easy! Yes, our web based interface will let you smoothly flow through the complete machine learning life-cycle.

  1. Get data
  2. Explore/analyse
  3. Build models
  4. Evaluate
  5. Predict/deploy

No matter from which entity you are from out of the entities I mentioned above, you will find it more convenient to do machine learning using WSO2 ML at no cost. The product will guide through each of the step, involves in this process in an intuitive manner and let you look at what you did with a comprehensive set of visualizations. Why visualizations? Because they talk in a language we all understand and that language is closer to us than numbers. These visualizations range from simple tables to sophisticated charts which will make data talk by themselves. At the end of the day your need can be either a low level task such as building the best ML model for a given dataset or a high level task such as evaluating machine learning as an opportunity for your business; either way WSO2 ML will help you to decide on what to do and how to do it. No matter whether you are a newbie or an expert it will let you get your job done with most powerful data processing tools available today. And when we say enterprise ready, we mean seamless integration with other products offered by WSO2 for integration to API management. WSO2 ML can be also thought of as a one component of a complete analytics platform that includes batch, real-time and predictive analytics. We do not discriminate, if you are just starting here and looking for something to begin with, simply get the binary and you are good to go! If you are looking for an enterprise level analytics solution with the power of machine learning take a look at our platform and decide which tools will work for you. In both cases, it’s free and it’s the same product.

ROC curve and AUC

ROC curve and AUC

Confusion matrix for Iris dataset

Confusion matrix for Iris dataset

Predicted vs. actual chart

Predicted vs. actual chart

What to expect?

Machine learning as a field is not going to end soon. Or I may say this is just the beginning. We are fully aware of the potential of it and the direction it is heading towards. In the initial release of WSO2 Machine Learner we are offering an essential but a complete set of features for your machine learning tasks. Alike to this field itself, our first release is just the beginning. We will be adding more and more features to WSO2 ML with cutting edge tools and research. In immediate releases you can expect multilayer architecture support, extensive data pre-processing, recommender solutions, anomaly detection and PMML support. And that’s not the end, we see beyond. Keep tabs on us, we will let you know.

Thanks for reading and happy machine learning! 🙂


Hate reading documentations but want to know more? You can just Sneak Peek into WSO2 Machine Learner 1.0.

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Good bye my little friend!

Few days back SHE sent me this picture with the caption “our kitty girl” saying she found her somewhere down the road, abandoned by the so called most intelligent beings of this planet earth. And today SHE sent me a message saying that this cutie just died. Even the doctor couldn’t save her from that miserable death. Her heart was too weak to survive. I never saw you, but I just can’t let you go.

My personal belief is that the term “Karma” stands for the equilibrium of nature. There’s no god or any other superstitious being looking over each and every one of us to punish or reward us for what we do. Karma should apply for everyone and everything in this universe or in all the universes. If karma applies for everyone fairly, the people who dump such innocent beings to be dead in roads deserve a special place in hell, if it exists somewhere. If this kitten had few more days with her mom she would have lived. I know what you think, hundreds and thousands of people die every day, in every passing minute. No, I don’t need your reminder on that! No matter whether a living being is black or white, a Sinhalese or a Tamil, a cat or a dog, life is a life. If we can save a life from death or from suffering, we should do our best. Every living being is here for a reason and each one of them has a right to live.

Good bye my little friend! I don’t want you to become a strong human in next life. That doesn’t guarantee you to have human qualities. Be a little kitten in a safer place where you can live your life until the mother nature calls you back.

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A tribute to few Hambayas we met on poya day

We were actually not lucky enough to reach our destination yesterday. But we could because of few Hambayas who helped us out.

Until we passed Mawanella on our way to hill country, everything was according to plan. And then the car broke down. First we thought it was trivial, and it could be unless yesterday was Vesak poya day. Things were not that easy on a public holiday which is celebrated by most in this country in one way or another. After asking from few, we were directed to a home garage managed by Irshad & Sons (who supported their dad with random hugs and screams). He could easily say “no” to us on such day but he said “yes” in the first place. Moreover it was not just “yes”, it was “we’ll find it and do it”.  We, or more precisely he, needed to find a belt to fix our ride. Again the fixing part was easy, finding that damned belt was the thing of the day! After a quick look and few calls, he hopped into his tuk-tuk with me for a ride which we hoped, would be the first and last of the belt rush. Sadly we were mistaken, a lot! It took a second time, third time, fourth time, fifth time and might be a sixth time, I can’t even remember how many times to Mawanella town and all around, to Motor shops, their owners houses and some random cousins’ houses looking for the belt! Each of these quick but long enough rides was followed by a time that Irshad was under my car checking whether the new one matches. All together it took good five hours and finally he was done! Meanwhile the only lady stayed at home was busy making everything home-like for my fiancée with what they got. Other ladies (Irshad’s brothers’ living nearby) were off to help dansala happening in the evening. According to Irshad’s words with pride, this time they are trying something new, Pol Roti with Katta Sambol. Last time it was manioc with Sambol.

In early hours I was bit worried about how much this long fixing would cost. But later on I was ready to give any amount he would ask. Shockingly when I asked for it his reply was “ganak balala denna” (you decide some fair amount)! I had to urge several times to get some amount out of his mouth and more shockingly it barely covered the cost of all our tuk-tuk rides! After handing some amount which I felt fair enough, we were literally out of words to thank him and his family. When we somehow put our thoughts into words, Irshad apologized for taking time to fix our ride. Well that was embarrassing! I’m so glad that I at least took some chocolate bars (she also really needed this) for those kids when I’m returning from our first tuk-tuk ride to town. Sadly we had to refuse their request to stay for lunch since we were already too late for our destination. Those godlike human beings just made our pilgrimage to Sri Dalada Maligawa possible. I wish I had a selfie or something with them to attach this post.

That’s one type of hambayas we meet in our everyday life. No matter whether you believe in Allah or Buddha, when you are only bounded by humanity, your beliefs won’t keep you away from doing good.

PS: If your car breaks down near Hingula, Mawanella ask for Irshad’s garage. He is at your service 24/7/365.

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Democratic! Socialist? Republic.

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True that this was supposed to be a [Tech] post, but not even a preschool kid seems to be escaped from the hype created by the presidential election or #PresPollSL as we all know.

Democracy and people’s sovereignty; no matter how many times these terms/phrases are repeated everyday, as citizens we are nowhere near being conscious of these and acting accordingly. A fair portion of the society seems to be still waiting for Prince Diyasena to appear from nowhere and make the country prosperous. Only thing changes is the face of Diyasena (even names rhyme this time!) from time to time or more precisely from election to election which always ends with disappointment of all. We are voting for a king, not for another government worker. As long as we follow this vicious cycle there will be no true victory for us but only for them.

Probably it is native to the eastern part of the world that we tend to believe more in someone else other than in ourselves. We are not ready to believe that we can make the change we want and we should be the change we want to see. Most of us prefer just to live our lives just because we are here. This negative prospect seems to be running in our veins no matter how much experienced or educated we are. We just let history to repeat its dark ages again and again doing nothing for a change. Or simply we are too lazy to change the way it is. This nature is evident in every aspect of this society from innovation to politics.

On the grounds of above we can take a look into our habits towards politics of today. There is no need to waste much of words to explain how corrupted our political system is when it is very explicit in every detail of the society, especially with an election around the corner. Incumbent party which has lost its popularity in an alarming rate seems to be doing literally anything to defend their power. We as citizens keep watching all these drama without making the noise that should be raised. It is true that everyone talks about that everywhere, but it doesn’t make the change we need. Or in another way, it is not what we have been offered by this term called democracy. No matter from which party these politicians are, all of them are just greedy human beings same as we are. Probably more greedy and corrupted since most of them lack even the minimum education level required to be a lowest ranked government worker. So our definition of democracy means voting for some of these maniacs and expecting each of them to be Diyasenas, an utter daydream in reality. How can we expect such from them? How dare? But that’s what exactly we are doing right now and keep on doing. Besides, whatever the party we vote for at the end of the day same set of bandits will be there at notorious Diyawanna residency after few jumps.

So how can we make the change we want to see? No doubts that it should start from ourselves. It is we are that corrupted and greedy. Even the bus conductor is corrupted. Most of the government organizations are corrupted. We complain about the dad who imports Lamborghinis for his son. But no one talks about thousands of dads who bring office stationary home for their kids. There is only a quantitative difference. It is said that we get leaders for what we are. Both parties who are involved in misconduct and who are indifferent towards them are equally responsible for whatever the situation we are facing now. That’s when our attitudes come into the play. True change should occur within ourselves than in anyone else. What matters is not the fact whether it is Maithri Palanaya (Maithri governance) or Mahinda Chintanaya (Mahinda vision), as far as we blindly follow our ancestral instincts, we will never be lucky enough to see the change we are dreaming of.

Above paragraphs contain a summery of few things I had to say about today’s politics. Those things take time to materialize and we have no time! After seeing few recent incidents from a particular political campaign and for the sake of this very word democracy it is much needed to change the regime. Only because of appointing a new mastermind is somewhat better than letting the same to make things worse exponentially.

Image courtesy: Hindustan Times

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Breaking the Habit

Yes, at the beginning being another tech blog was the last thing on my mind. I loved to share only conceptual stuff here rather than code lines. But things do change. Mainly due to two reasons, thought of filling this space with purely technical content as well. First reason is my final year project, something related to deep learning. There I have been working with pretty unique stuff which are not very popular and widely available on web yet. Hard times I had when looking for something on this very topic triggered me this need to share what I have been working on. Second reason is the place I do my internship. Here most of the things are free and open (source) in which I might need another lengthy post to explain. We are highly encouraged to share every bit of our work and it is always reminded that we are “standing on the shoulders of giants”. So why not share? Just a brief note on change and await for more mono-spaced content. Courtesy for the post title should be given to this song.

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