Applied Machine Learning certificate prepares professionals for data science careers

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Effective data analysis can make all the difference for a company’s efficiency. Advances in machine learning (ML) have helped data scientists harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and take their analysis to the next level. Brian D’Alessandro, head of data science for Instagram’s Well-Being and Integrity teams and author of Cornell’s Applied Machine Learning and AI certificate program, has 20 years of experience in ML model construction. D’Alessandro spoke to the eCornell team about the certificate, ML instructional approaches and career paths. 

What can students expect in the program?

“Even when students have learned how to build a model, I would argue that they haven’t learned to build a good model yet. There’s an empirical process required in tuning model parameters such that you get the prediction quality that you’re looking for. So, in this certificate,  we ensure students learn how to build a strong, basic model . . . how to tune it and validate it, and then we start to introduce more complex algorithms that are more often used in industry settings. We cover K-nearest neighbors, decision trees and linear models – the full spectrum. Throughout the program, we emphasize the consistency of the API across different machine learning algorithms.”

Are any important aspects of working with ML frequently overlooked?

“I really like to emphasize digging into data first before learning algorithms. The cliche at this point is “garbage in, garbage out,” and that’s very true for machine learning. So what I want to do here is build an appreciation for what will ultimately be 80 to 90 percent of the workload, which is data preparation. We emphasize the importance of it. [We] don’t dismiss it . . . this is the one area of machine learning that is often not spoken about or taught in textbooks.”

What about this program will help students upskill or pursue a career change?

“The program is oriented toward developing the core machine learning skills for most data science jobs or machine learning engineering. If you are a working professional and you want to get into either one of the fields, this certificate is designed to be one of the best starting points, presuming you’re co-learning, or have already learned, Python.”

Take the first step toward building successful machine learning algorithms in Cornell’s Applied Machine Learning and AI certificate program. Learn more and enroll now.

This story was drafted by eCornell marketing intern Justin Heitzman.