Machine Learning since 1997: what’s new?

Tom Mitchell is creator and chair of, to my knowledge, the only “Machine Learning Department” in academia.

In doing so he authored a document in 2006 which strives to define Machine Learning as a separate intellectual discipline from statistics, computer science, or other related fields. His is one of several definitions.

So I was happy to see that he’s announced he’s updating his classic textbook on the subject from 1997.

He’s put up a page with one chapter on generative modeling and a request for comments. It’s been a dynamic 16 years for machine learning — what do you think is missing and should be included in the 2nd edition?




So long…we are now over at SpotOn

The New York blog is no longer being updated, although you can still read the archives. If you’d like to find out about discussions in NYC on how science is carried out and communicated online, you can check out the new SpotOn events microsite. SpotOn stands for science policy, outreach and tools online and reflects the three main discussion topics that the monthly NYC events cover:

You can attend the events in person, or online, and we feature regular content around each debate. You’re also welcome to suggest future topics or panelists by contacting us:


Science Events in New York City: 27 August — 2 September

The New York City science calendar is a little light this week. No doubt everyone wants to make the most of the last weeks of summer; however, with September right around the corner, New York universities, museums, and other organizations are gearing up for a great fall season of science events. For now, however, take the opportunities this week to learn a little bit about the night sky.

Tuesday – On Tuesday, the American Museum of Natural History hosts “Astronomy Live: Sky to Space”. Research scientist Jackie Faherty and astrophysics educator Christina Pease will recreate pivotal astronomical discoveries using the Hayden Planetarium’s projectors to show the key roles astronomical observations have made in advancing science since antiquity.

Thursday – Thursday offers another astronomical event with “Martian Space Oddities” at the Observatory in Brooklyn. Andrew Kessler, author of Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission, will talk about his experience with the Mars Phoenix expedition.

That’s all we’ve got for this week, but make sure to check out our Google calendar for other science events around the city, and if there’s an event that you’d like us to add to our calendar, let us know!

Science Events in New York City: 25 June — 1 July

The summer heat has finally come to New York City. If you’re looking for a place to cool down while learning some cool things about science, check out our list of events for this week.


Take a Grand Tour of the Universe Tuesday night at the American Museum of Natural History. See where Earth sits within the universe as you journey past exoplanets, stars, and galaxies.


On Wednesday, learn about sustainable happiness at the Rubin Museum. Joe Loizzo, a psychotherapist, will discuss his new book about well-being and altruism and what we can learn from Asian cultures about living well-balance lives and handling the stresses of modern society that often lead to depression, obesity, and cancer.


Come out to Brooklyn Bridge Park after the heat has gone to check out the night sky. Astronomers from the Amateur Astronomers Association will be out with telescopes to help you identify some night sky objects.


If you’re still looking for a way to see the night sky, the Columbia Astronomy Outreach program is hosing their biweekly Science Fact vs Fiction event. This Friday, they will be showing the movie Transformers 3, followed by a discussion of science fiction vs science fact and a stargazing session.

Check out our Google calendar below for other science events around the city, and if there’s an event that you’d like us to add to our calendar, let us know!

Science Events in New York City: 18—24 June


Come out to Genspace on Monday night for PCR and pizza. Anyone and everyone is welcome to bring in a plant sample and learn how to do PCR and DNA barcoding, or to just sit back and watch, learn, and eat pizza. Genspace is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Check out their weekend classes on synthetic biology and biotechnology.


Looking for some more citizen science opportunities? Head on out to Staten Island this Tuesday for FrogWatch USA, a nationwide, monthly amphibian monitoring program. Read more

Can Wine and Chocolate Help You Live Forever?

Too good to be true? A compound that may treat cancer and diabetes, improve cardiovascular function, increase your lifespan…AND it’s found in wine and chocolate!? A quick Google search for resveratrol will unearth pages of companies trying to sell you the “fountain of youth”, a few warnings “not to believe the hype”, and even a few scientific studies thrown in for good measure. So what’s the truth? Resveratrol: wonder drug or over-hyped?

Last Tuesday night, Joseph Bauer from the University of Pennsylvania spoke at the New York Academy of Sciences to help us sort through the sensationalist headlines (my own included) and take a well-balanced look at the science behind these claims. Bauer became interested in resveratrol while trying to mimic the increase in lifespan observed in mice due to calorie restriction, the idea being that perhaps there is a druggable target that could produce the same effects as caloric restriction without, you know, having to eat less. Bauer eventually focused in on a family of proteins called sirtuins, specifically Sirt-1, which controls life expectancy in yeast (Sir2) and mice (Sirt-1). A screen for compounds that activated Sirt-1 by Biomol (now Enzo Life Sciences) turned up resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and chocolate and is now the subject of several preclinical and clinical studies. Read more

Science Events in New York City: 11—17 June

It’s a very tech-filled week here in New York. Come out and hear talks about green energy, the Internet, and the space program.


On Tuesday, the  New York Solar Energy Industries Association and Green Drinks NYC are hosting a solar mixer for a night of networking, drinks and fun. Read more