I recently participated in the LxMLS summer school in Lisbon, Portugal. This is an annual event that focuses on theory and application of machine learning with a focus on natural language processing. The lectures followed a linear progression, starting from the fundamentals of traditional machine learning and later covered developments in deep learning. Each day in the morning, there was a lecture on some aspect of machine learning and then after the lunch students were assembled into groups to participate in the practical programming sessions. In the afternoons there was a talk on some application of machine learning in an actual research project.
In total there were more than 230 participants and the summer school lasted for 8 days. The lecturers are accomplished researchers in the field and the presentations were usually engaging and informative. I particularly enjoyed the talks given by Noah Smith, Chris Dyer, and Kyunghyun Cho. The event also included a poster presentation and a demo day where regional IT companies showcased their work and did recruitment advertising.
During the summer school I got the opportunity to get to know several PhD students working in the field from universities around the world and the networking was very valuable. The practical coding sessions could have been organised better with more supervision but overall I consider the experience as positive and worthwhile. I also found a bit of time during the day off to explore Lisbon and its surrounding areas. I enjoyed the historical delights and the amazing seafood and look forward to revisiting Portugal again soon.