My experience taking CS 7637: Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence in Spring 2018


Great professor, by far Dr Goel is one of the most committed professors I’ve seen in OMSCS. He was everywhere. He participated in Piazza big time. And his answers were always very polished. He didn’t mind to write a long post if he needed to make a point. The other professor I remember was so active in Piazza as Dr Goel was Dr Balch from CS 7646: Machine Learning for Trading. Great teachers both of them, they really care about student experience. Too bad Dr Goel said Spring 2018 would be his last time as KBAI instructor.

This course was time consuming, it took around 15-20 hourse per week for me. Mostly because it included some coding projects and long essays. They give you a choice to use Java or Python for project. Obviously most people in Spring 2018 chose Python, because of available libraries related to subject.

It was a tougher course than I expected. Some friend told me it was not difficult course, and in fact it wasn’t. Subject was not exactly hardest from the masters’ program, but the coding was massive. I had to code and recode so many times for things to work, remember it’s an AI class. I learned that making robots act as human means understanding why and how we people do things in the first place, and there is nothing easy about that, we humans are complex beings, to put it nicely.

I didn’t like the subject as much, it was a little boring for me, mainly because I’m not that much into AI as I’m into Machine Learning. Nevertheless it took a big amount of time from my week, and I took it in the same semester I took CSE 6250: Big Data for Healthcare, the most difficult course from the program according to CS6250 took from me 35-40 hours per week, so do the math of how were my days in front of the computer coding. I coded su much in Spring man.

If you take this course, my experience says don’t leave coding projects to do them in the last minute, or you won’t be able to deliver on time. Essays are easier, and they use peer feedback for that, so those weeks were I had only an assignment to work on were a little soft.

I’ve heard they are about to revamp KBAI for Fall 2018, so don’t take anything granted from what I’ve just mentioned.


My experience taking CS 7637: Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence in Spring 2018

What was it like to take CSE 6250: Big Data for Health Informatics in Spring 2018


This course has been the toughest course I’ve ever taken in my life, ever! I’ll just say that. It includes so much material that it could be divided into 2 courses at least. I did what people suggest and went through the labs before the semester started. I spent 30-35 hours per week.

First week we were asked to complete a certification in order to handle data ethically. That took me 2 full days (16 hours) alone, and it represented maybe 1 point of the overall grade. That was only the tip of the iceberg of what was about to come.

We were assigned homeworks every 2 weeks. At the time I was taking another course too (CS 7637 Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence: Cognitive Systems). That’s why I had to crash the homework to finish it even earlier, so I could start working on the other course assignments. Most of the times I finished Big Data homeworks in 10 days, and 5 days left were what I got left for KBAI and I had to do magic (long nights) in those 5 days to be able to deliver homework before deadline.

Homeworks were long and covered many many topics: Hadoop, MapReduce, HDFS, Hive, Zeppelin, HBase, Pig, and many other tools. If you are into taking this course I encourage you to take all the labs present in the sunlab website. Here I leave you the link to our semester’s labs. I remember professor mentioned that he was going to do a revamp of the course. Course redesign would be in summer 2018, many spring 2018 students volunteered to help, so I guess there may be some major changes in Fall 2018. Be aware of that.

There were many errors and last minute changes in the homework environments. That took a significant amount of time during homework solution. There was always a math part included in every long assignment item list.

Something to notice is that from my experience, I never saw a comment or post from professor in Piazza during homeworks. Everything was left to the TAs, and their replies took some considerable amount. People complained a lot about feedback time. Now that I’m finishing OMSCS I remember there was one course that was almost enterily TA-driven, but it almost didn’t make a difference as head TA was always around, and he had coding sessions with us and all.

I had seen CSE 6250 reputation from before I took the course, so I knew what I was getting into, but I was really impressed of the poor logistics. Professor finally showed up for project part of the course, which was done in the final weeks. He had a 10 min session with every team to answer any doubts on the project and give hints on our selected subjects. That was cool.

The course team project was a beast on its own. We had to select from a list of topics or select our own topic, but selecting our own would be even harder because we would be all alone with our questions and problems, so we decided to take a topic from the list. A friend who had already taken the class suggested the same. I had 2 great team mates, that alleviated things a lot. Hi Fede and Nachi if you are reading this.

By the final 2 weeks I was already stressed out, like every semester end, I just wanted the pain to end, don’t we all?, but this time it was worse, way worse, I felt burned out. This is by every right the most time consuming and difficult course from, no way to compare it to anything else. From my experience, it made CS 7641 Machine Learning course look like a little kid in what is related to difficulty. That and the fact that KBAI was a time consuming course, more than I expected. I’ll remember this semester as my toughest semester in whole OMSCS.

As many mention, this course is more about big data than it is about Health Care. You do need to learn some Health Care jargon, but no big deal really. So don’t be impressed by all that Health Care stuff if you haven’t don’t any Health Care related things in the past. The most important thing you need to learn is Phenotyping, and that’s about it.


In the end I got an A, I think the grade I’ve worked for the most in my life. Well, and that was my CSE 6250 experience. Hope everything gets better for Fall 2018. See ya!





What was it like to take CSE 6250: Big Data for Health Informatics in Spring 2018

12 Estadísticas que exhiben el Rol del Análisis de Datos en la Transformación Digital

Ultimamente mucho se me pregunta sobre el Rol que cumple #AnalisisDeDatos en la #TransformacionDigital. Atento a las cifras. La fuente de los datos la menciono en la misma presentación.

12 Estadísticas que exhiben el Rol del Análisis de Datos en la Transformación Digital

La guerra detrás de la transformación empresarial

Cuando uno va a comenzar una transformación empresarial, sea digital, ágil, o lo que sea, uno se entusiasma, siente que va a ser parte de algo grande, que tendrá un beneficio para todos. Puede que así sea (el tiempo lo dirá), lo que si es cierto es que habrán quienes reciban el cambio con los brazos abiertos y lo apoyen, pero déjame decirte, serán pocos. Identifícalos, aprécialos, cuídalos, apóyate en ellos, reconócelos.


La mayoría sera indiferente, harán lo q les pidan o aparentaran hacerlo al menos. “Otra moda más que acabara en nada” será el rumor en los pasillos antes de que siquiera comiences.


Habrán unos cuantos fuertes detractores, algunos lo dirán frontalmente, otros no. Es que esta transformación despertara una guerra política interna, en la que (desees o no) estarás inmerso. Los “no tan amigos” del sponsor del cambio estarán sutil pero irrevocablemente en contra.


Otros detractores naturales serán los adictos al protagonismo, porque estas personas se sentirán amenazadas.


Por otro lado, habrá quienes quieran “aprovechar la ola” y conseguir beneficios personales involucrándose en esta iniciativa. No hay nada de malo en querer algo para uno, lo malo está en que sea el único motor para apoyar algo, mas allá de un autentico deseo de ayudar.


Ah, me olvidaba, y hay los cuida-imagen, por llamarlos de alguna manera, personas que no apoyarán la transformación no porque no crean en los objetivos, sino simplemente por cuidar su imagen. La transformación podría terminar mal, y eso podría “salpicar su reputación”. Esto pasa mas que nada a personas que prefieren mantenerse al margen de lo que no se les ha sido asignado directamente. Lo importante para ellos es que no se los vaya a relacionar con posibles fracasos.


Estás prevenido. La transformación empresarial es como una rosa, tiene sus recompensas, pero tiene sus espinas también. Habemos personas a quienes nos apasiona dedicarnos a esto, pero al principio toca aprender ciertos detalles a la mala, golpeándose, como en todo en la vida. Suerte en tu transformación y disfruta el viaje!

Nota: Este artículo fue inspirado en el siguiente párrafo del libro Driving Digital de Isaac Sacolick (ver texto resaltado).


La guerra detrás de la transformación empresarial

Survival Guide for Student+Worker with children

For people who don’t know me so well, I’m a full-time worker, currently a graduate student at a Top 10 US Computer Science program from Georgia Tech, a husband and a father of a 23 months old baby girl and more recently a father again of a 7 weeks old baby.

It’s been stressful, let me start with that. Just 2 years ago, I didn’t think I could start a new education challenge, I felt overwhelmed with my job and spending time with my wife and maybe fixing something around the house. I obviously didn’t know the meaning of the word “overwhelmed” and didn’t know what was coming.

I wanted to start grad school right away, but then me and my wife found out we were expecting our first child. We loved the news and were full of joy, something we had longed for a long time and I wanted to share the experience and the responsibilities with her. Then my first child was born, so I decided to wait 1 more semester to apply to grad school.

To make the long story short, this has been the single toughest most stressful time of my life and by far the happiest too. My day starts very early and it doesn’t finish when my baby girls fall sleep, because I go to study for a few hours after that.

Things I’ve found helpful:

1. Build a strong help network around you

Nothing will save you from what is about to come, but it can surely make the road a little less bumpy. Think about people closest to you and some other people services you can afford to pay for. Your parents, your in-laws, daycare or getting a nanny would surely make a difference. I’ve even heard about foundations and communities helping with children care.

Just as a side note, you can find me through my Linkedin profile and ask me any question related to OMSCS, OMSA or online education in general. Just send me an invitation and I’ll be glad to share my network with you.

2. Make a schedule with your spouse

Yeah, no surprise, but even if you don’t get to use it or don’t fully respect it, having a schedule will make you feel more empowered. More in charge, more organized. Doing a schedule on your own (without spouse) will only bring trouble to an already stressful situation. If possible get your schedule signed by you and your spouse, believe me this can be a relationship saver for some people. Put it in a visible place, like on the fridge. You can even use a digital calendar like Google Calendar to share your schedule with your significant other. Yes, it does support sharing calendars, and if you’re not ready for that kind of sharing, you can only mark the events you both need to be aware of and share those through an email invitation, you can make freely available tech work for you.

You may need to make changes to your schedule on the long run, but starting without one is not sane.

3. Make room for your studying

In my case, my program is very rigorous. You be the judge, it can take from 20 to 40 hours of studying per week depending on number of courses taken per semester. I’ve seen people trying to start with a minimum time availability in their hands and then struggle their way to only become frustrated by reality. Some courses are more difficult than others, and difficulty may also vary depending on your background.

I could have settled for a less rigorous local program, with a more flexible time frame, but it’s really up to everyone to decide what they like and what they want for themselves. In the end, people are known to do way better what they really like to do.

4. Embrace change

I don’t want to sound like an agilist right now (which I am, but that’s another story). But there will be many moments when you’ll see things are not going according to plan. It’s easy to feel frustrated when you start your day thinking you’ll do your piece of studying and then when you’re back in your bed at night remembering all things that got you so tired during the day, you remember none of them were the things you wanted to do, or the things you were supposed to. Don’t think about it too much, suck it up, and go studying even if it’s midnight. If you are too tired and your body doesn’t respond anymore, it’s no biggie. Grab some sleep. And wake up as early as you can, the next day will bring a new chance to finish what is left to do. You can do this.

5. Print your course syllabus and schedule and post them in a cork board

Every class has its singularities and its due dates. Don’t run into last minute panic. Print every course schedule and syllabus and post them in a visible place, I use a cork board I look at regularly.

A course schedule may vary in time, but usually they are very sutle changes.

6. Don’t hesitate to ask for assignment due date extension if you run into some proven emergency

I’ve had a couple of those, and instructors have been very understanding about the subject really. They just asked me to send them some document proof of what I’m saying. Usually that’s a document signed by a physician.

7. Celebrate every milestone

Celebrate every end of semester and every special/important achievement. It will enhance your position towards new challenges coming ahead.

Send “thank you notes”. I send a Whatsapp message to my “help network” every end of semester indicating the name of the courses I’ve finished and the grades I got thanks to them. I keep reminding them the importance of their effort in this goal they’re being part of.

8. Enjoy life

Don’t make yourself a stranger to the eyes of your close ones. Have special attention to your kids and spouse, your time is very important to them, even if they don’t mention it. My oldest daughter behavior with me changes a lot based on the quantity and most importantly the quality of time I spend with her.

Time with your loved ones is the most valueable asset, not money, not titles, not academic credentials, not job, not professional recognition.

When I look back through time I only see people faces. It’s people who I feel I should care about the most. In my latin culture family is most important thing, and now I have my own family I understand why and I appreciate everytime from a different perspective, which makes my recognition to other people’s work of love even greater.

9. Build habits in your kids

dad and kid brushing teeth.jpg.838x0_q67_crop-smart

A consistent early bed time will make room for your studying and sharing as a couple. A quite time every day is priceless if used consciously.

10. Tools to learn faster

Have a look at gadgets I’ve learned to be a real boost for online studying. Real-life-tested gadgets that may be handy for you.

Well, there you go, I hope I helped someone out there. Thank you for reading and have a great time with your new challenges to come!

Survival Guide for Student+Worker with children