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Teaching Computers and Simulating Brains – Devfest ‘17

The third edition of Google Developer Group’s DevFest certainly exceeded expectations. Packed with an array of excellent speakers and informative content, the event introduced attendees to topics like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence—topics that are quickly gaining ground in the current-day Computer Science landscape.

Picture Courtesy Dhruv Pandya

The event began with an introductory talk by Ms. Lakshya Sivaramakrishnan, Head of Google’s Women Techmakers Program in India. She spoke about GDG and the Women Techmakers program—both of which aim to provide visibility, community, and resources for women in technology. She also talked about the relevance of WTM, Google, and its products from a present-day Indian perspective.

The Devfest subsequently shifted to NLH, where it split itself into two tracks—a WTM track for beginners and a GDG track for more experienced participants. As with many events, a sizeable chunk of time was spent on the distribution and installation of requisite software.

Picture Courtesy Dhruv Pandya

Both tracks took off with an introduction to Machine Learning, which outlined the basic theory and mathematics required for going deeper into the subject. There was also an introduction to Python and its usage in implementing Machine Learning algorithms.

The GDG track featured talks by many guest speakers. Sachi Angle, spoke about neural networks and demonstrated their practical use in an application that she had developed which inferred the happenings in a football game from images of the pitch. Yash Kumar Lal talked about Long Short Term Memory networks and Natural Language Processing. He also presented his app “Ping”, which used these concepts to actively translate languages in real time communication. Avikant Saini and Siddharth Kothiyal gave a talk on Computer Vision and various techniques and algorithms used for the same.

The WTM track had an event named “Design Sprint”, which required participants to design application user interfaces under the guidance of engineers from Google Bangalore. This was followed by a Skype session with Mehul Smriti Raje, a graduate of MIT who is currently pursuing her MS from Harvard University. She talked about her journey into Computer Science and ended with her vision for women in technology. This track concluded with a session on Firebase—Google’s mobile and web-app development platform.

Picture courtesy: Dhruv Pandya

Despite an unexpectedly high turnout, the event was managed successfully and unfolded without any hitches. The Google Developers Group went to great lengths to bring to Manipal a power-packed and educational event and were undoubtedly successful.