Dan Gillick

Applied Machine Learning


What is your academic background?

I graduated with my bachelor’s from Wesleyan University with a double major in computer science and English literature in 2003. Then I received my Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in computer science in 2012.

What is your professional background?

I've been working at Google since finishing graduate school. I work on natural language processing (NLP) using machine learning – a field that has grown from a few people in research to many thousands of engineers in just a few years.

What honors/awards have you received?

I don't think I've received any honors or awards since I was in college. The computer science department at Wesleyan gave me a bunch of awards during my undergrad because I was basically the only student.

What are your current research interests?

I'm especially interested in commonalities among languages and how we can represent questions or concepts in any language with a single model. I'm also working on understanding queries that contain multiple languages – linguists call this 'code mixing'.

What information or data issue interests you?

Statistical analysis of data is making the world's economies run more efficiently. That's generally good – cheaper products, personalized services, Lyft line, advanced basketball analytics. But sometimes it's not – Russia hacked our election by targeting a few key precincts. So that's pretty interesting.

What sets the UC Berkeley School of Information (I School) apart?

Both the I School and MIDS program have some liberal arts tendencies. You get a well-rounded education, which is unusual for graduate programs. I think that serves students well in the long run for developing their careers.

What do you love about data science?

I like how abstract mathematical ideas can be applied directly to very practical problems.

What is your advice for aspiring data scientists?

Be curious and skeptical. Don't forget that there's plenty of hype in data science (and machine learning) just like everywhere else.

What is one thing that most people would be surprised to learn about you?

I've won some national and world championships playing ultimate frisbee.

What do you like to do when you're not working or teaching?

I spend a lot of time playing sports.

What are you reading right now?

I recently finished 'Sapiens' by Yuval Harari. It is excellent. I'm currently reading 'Homegoing' by Yaa Gyasi.

How to reach me:

Email: dgillick@ischool.berkeley.edu

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