Yesterday we’d asked Professor Littman for a text on machine learning. The result of our query was a hefty tome – Artificial Intelligence, a Modern Approach by Peter Norvig (one of my role-models) and Stuart Russell. The concepts were straightforward enough to understand but the text was littered with forehead-wrinkle-inducing jargon (eg: classification, regression, realizable hypothesis spaces). I managed to get through a section or two, stopping at ‘learning decision trees’; it was slow going especially since I was making a personal (metaphor filled) summary on my research wiki.

A further consultation session with Professor Littman made me reconsider our head-first dive into ML. A lot of the algorithms are already fairly well-tested, and innovating in the field seems less likely. Consequently, we’re considering treating the ML part of our project as a black-box after getting just a slightly better understanding of it. To that end we will try and implement naive Bayes in the following week. For other ML stuff we plan to resort to Weka. To get a better understanding of the effectiveness of different machine learning approaches (all packaged and available via Weka) we are planning to develop a fake-home-data generator program (might even try to write it in Python) modelled of our own schedules, though hopefully flexible enough to produce variations!

We also spent some time adding permissions to the MotionSensor class of Helios. The Helios crash-tutorial was cut short when a casino-weary Nick disappeared after lunch (we later learned he’d fallen asleep).

An interesting project, that is probably worth following, is Casa Jasmina  — which is an open-source Internet of Things based smart home project supported by the Arduino team and led by Bruce Sterling (of Hacker Crackdown fame).

Other random ideas floating around:

  • Many greenhouses are already doing extremely intelligent automation and would be worthy case studies, providing insights that could be translated to actual homes (this one courtesy a senior-week-relaxed Melwyn).
  • Using Arduino as a sensor/controller could be an interesting path, especially as there is a big community around it.
  • A residency in Casa Jasmina sounds like the perfect vacation.