The presenters at the Greater Good Online Institute for Health Professionals, Eve Ekman, Dacher Keltner, Jamil Zaki, Elissa Epel, and Jyothi Marbin (not shown Liz Markle). Image from  Greater Good Science Center

by George Taniwaki

A couple weekends ago, I attended the Greater Good Online Institute for Health Professionals, May 2-3, 2020. The workshop was sponsored by the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, San Francisco. I was hoping to pick up some tips on how I can improve my ability to empathize with kidney patients and their family in order to help them find a donor.

It turns out the program was focused on a completely different set of topics related to reducing stress, improving self-care, and treating patients holistically. Not helpful for my goal, but an interesting weekend nonetheless.

Key take away

If you are interested in leading a happier life and connecting to others with empathy, then the GGSC has tools to help you. They have an online magazine, a Science of Happiness podcast, and videos. In addition to having classes for health professionals, they have online courses for the workplaceK-12 educators, and families.

After the workshop, one of the goals for participants is to commit to making one change in our lives to make us happier. A typical goal would be to regularly share with a colleague (a few times a week) three good things that you are grateful for. Reflecting on your day and picking out three good things is hard, especially during a pandemic. Striking up a conversation with a colleague simply to talk about one’s feelings is uncomfortable. But the practice sounds useful, I will endeavor to try.

Agenda and video recordings

The agenda along with links to the speaker’s video sessions are shown in the table below. After each speaker there was a breakout session (not shown) where small groups could reflect on the talk and discuss how it impacts them. Of course, you won’t be participate in the group discussion as an individual watching the YouTube recording, but perhaps you can try turning on your camera and talking to yourself.

Schedule YouTube Description
Sat, 8:30 – 9:00 31:00 (no sound at start) Dacher Keltner and Eve Ekman — Welcoming remarks/grounding
Sat, 9:00 – 9:30 1:00:19 Dacher Keltner — Gratitude and Awe in Healthcare
Sat, 10:30 – 11:00 2:32:43 Jyothi Marbin — Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Healthcare
Sat, 12:30 – 1:00 4:31:53 Jamil Zaki — Neuroscience of Empathy in Medicine
Sun,8:30 – 9:00 28:29 Dacher Keltner and Eve Ekman — Welcoming remarks/grounding with review of themes from previous day
Sun, 9:00 – 9:30 1:0054 Liz Markle — Behavioral Health and the Community as Medicine
Sun, 10:30 – 11:00 2:29:33 Elissa Epel — Supporting Stress Resilience in Healthcare
Sun, 12:30 – 1:00 4:31:46 Eve Ekman — Emotion Awareness in Healthcare
Sun, 1:45 – 2:00 5:43:05 Eve Ekman and Dacher Keltner — Closing remarks and reflection

About the speakers

Short biographies of the six speakers are available at GGSC. Some additional speaker resources and links are shown below.

Speaker Resource
Eve Ekman, Ph.D., MSW Three-Day Online Immersive Emotional Balance Training in June; Atlas of Emotions Online and Eve Ekman trainings online; free Guided Meditations
Dacher Keltner, Ph.D. Born to be Good
Jyothi Marbin, M.D. UCSF
Jamil Zaki, Ph.D. The War for Kindness
Elizabeth Markle, Ph.D. Open Source Wellness, podcast conversation about Community as Medicine
Elissa Epel, Ph.D. UCSF Resources to Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus, The Telomere Effect



Folding a square sheet of paper

by George Taniwaki

After scribbling notes on a square yellow Post-it note, I folded it in half and was about to put it in my pocket when I made an interesting observation. If I fold a square paper exactly in half while holding an edge toward me, the resulting visible area is a rectangle with an area of one-half the total area (top illustration above). The same is true if rotate the sheet 45 degrees and I fold it along the diagonal to make a triangle (middle illustration above). However, if I fold it in half along any other angle, the area of the top layer is exactly one-half, but two additional triangular ears are visible from under the fold (bottom illustration above).

That made me wonder. What angle produces the maximum area, and what is that area? This is the perfect math question for the origami enthusiast.

Let’s solve it.

Finding the relevant dimensions

The first step in solving this problem is to unfold the sheet, use geometry to find any symmetries, and use trigonometry to calculate the area of the two triangular ears as a function of the rotation angle, θ.


Unfolding the sheet

By unfolding the sheet, I discover a surprising symmetry. The two triangular ears are identical. Let’s call the lengths of the two exterior sides A and B. The area of one triangular ear is A * B / 2 and the area of both ears is A * B.

The length of the interior side, which is the hypotenuse of a right triangle, can be called C. The angles opposite each side can be labeled a, b, and c. (See figure above.)

Using trigonometry, this means A = C * cos(b) and B = C * sin(b).

The angle b is twice the rotation angle or 2θ. Substituting gives

A = C * cos(2θ) and B = C * sin(2θ).

The length of one side of the square = 1, so A + B + C = 1. Substituting and rearranging gives

C * cos(2θ) + C * sin(2θ) + C = 1


C = 1/(cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)

and finally substituting this value of C in our original equations for A, B, and A * B gives

A = cos(2θ) / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)
B = sin(2θ) / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)
A * B = cos(2θ) * sin(2θ) / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)2

Numeric solution

There are two ways to solve for the maximum value of the area A * B and the angle θ. We can solve it numerically and analytically. Let’s start with a numeric solution. In Excel, I create a table of values of θ from 0 to 45 degrees with steps of 1 degree increments. I convert degrees to radians and calculate the associated values of A, B, and A *B. Then I plot them. The maximum value occurs at θ somewhere between 22 and 23 degrees. Thus, it seems 22.5 degrees is the solution.

At 22.5 degrees, A = B = 0.2929 and A * B = 0.08579.


Plot of A, B, and A*B versus θ

Analytic solution

Now let’s prove the numeric solution is correct by using an analytical method. To find the maximum area, I take the derivative of A * B with respect to θ and set to zero. Then solve for θ. The solution uses basic calculus, including a combination of the product rule and chain rule. First, I define A * B as a group of functions as follows:

let f(θ) = cos(2θ)
g(θ) = sin(2θ)
h(θ) = 1 / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)2 = (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)2


A * B = f(θ) * g(θ) * h(θ)

The derivatives are as follows:

f'(θ) = -sin(2θ)*2
g'(θ) = cos(2θ)*2
h'(θ) = -2 * (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)-3 * (-sin(2θ) + cos(2θ)) * 2 = 4 * (sin(2θ) – cos(2θ)) / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)3


(A * B)’ = ( f'(θ) * g(θ) * h(θ)) + (g'(θ) * f(θ) * h(θ)) + (h'(θ) * f(θ) * g(θ))

Now I substitute the values of the 3 functions and their derivatives into the last equation.

(A * B)’ = (-sin(2θ)*2 * sin(2θ) * h(θ)) + (cos(2θ)*2 * cos(2θ) * h(θ)) + 4 * (sin(2θ) – cos(2θ)) / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)3 * cos(2θ) * sin(2θ))

Simplifying and rearranging gets:

(A * B)’ = (cos2(2θ) – sin2(2θ)) * 2 * h(θ) + (sin(2θ) – cos(2θ)) * 4 * cos(2θ) * sin(2θ) / (cos(2θ) + sin(2θ) + 1)3

The solutions are values of where A * B’ = 0. This is only true when both cos2(2θ) – sin2(2θ) = 0 and sin(2θ) – cos(2θ) = 0. The only angle where this condition is met is 45° or θ = 22.5°. This proves that the maximum that I found numerically is a maximum area.

[Update: Completed the analytic solution section.]


Yard signs that worked (from Kennebec Journal, Sep 2018)

by George Taniwaki

In a July 2019 blog post, I discussed the use of billboards to help publicize your need for a kidney donor. If you can’t afford a billboard, smaller yard signs are a good alternative if you have legal access to to the right-of-way next to a busy road , specifically one with lots of slow moving traffic.

The picture at the top of this blog post shows an excellent example of an effective yard sign. They were designed and installed by Krystal Reardon, a nurse and kidney patient in Augusta, Maine. She has six yard signs, all with black text on a blue background. The signs read “I require a life-saving transplant”, “Kidney”, “Donor”, “Needed”, “Would you consider”, “Ask me how (207) 518-0000”. The first and last signs are hand painted, while the other four signs are stenciled. Her story was carried by multiple news outlets including Kennebec Journal (Sep 2018) and People (Sep 2018).

Her signs generated a remarkable 30 responses from strangers who have offered to get tested (Fox News, Sep 2018). She received a transplant shortly thereafter. Now she is helping other kidney patients use the same technique to find their own donors. You can see her handiwork for Kenneth Edwards and Rachel LaJoie in the second row of the photographs below.

AngelaYardSign DanYardSign

EricYardSignAUGUSTA, ME - MARCH 26: This photo taken on Tuesday March 26, 2019 shows signs about kidney donation on South Belfast Avenue (Route 105) in Augusta. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer)

AUGUSTA, ME - MARCH 26: This photo taken on Tuesday March 26, 2019 shows signs about kidney donation on South Belfast Avenue (Route 105) in Augusta. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer)


MarkYardSign JimYardSign

Seven examples of kidney campaign yard signs in the news

First row: Angela (from CTV News, Jul 2016), Dan (from WLWT, Aug 2015)

Second row: Joan (from KidneyQuest on Twitter), Kenneth and Rachel (from Press Herald, Mar 2019)

Third row: Mark (from Union Leader, May 2019), Jim (from Café Mom, Jan 2014)

Since the signs are small and most people who see it will be driving fast, you cannot put a lot of text on it. All of the yard signs have the following two features:

1. Headline or call to action – Kidney needed or donor wanted

2. Contact information – phone number, email address, or website

One option to increase awareness and to tell a longer story is to use multiple signs spaced several feet apart, like Ms Reardon did for herself and for her mentees.

Another option, which works in an area that receives plenty of snow and stays cold is to build a seven-foot snow sculpture of a kidney (see last picture in the third row) and plop your sign next to it.

Media attention

As mentioned in my blog post on billboards, another way to expand your search is to get your yard signs covered by the local newspaper or television news. All of the yard signs shown in this blog post were found on news websites.

2019-08-10 14_ChrisPineSpideyBellsYouTube

Captain Kirk is filled with deep regret. Still from Chris Pine on YouTube

by George Taniwaki

There are not very many popular culture references about getting a degree in chemical engineering. But there should be. I’m only aware of three. That’s not enough to fill a blog post so I added a few extra.

Spidey Bells–2018

If you watch a Marvel movie all the way to the end, hidden in the credits are wonderful Easter eggs that tend to be somewhat unrelated to the movie.

In the opening of the 2018 animated movie Spider-Man:Into the Spider-Verse, the first Peter Parker, voiced by Chris Pine, says that he has recorded an album and is selling some related merchandise. At the end of the movie, as the credits roll, one of the songs from that supposed album plays. It is a Christmas carol called Spidey Bells (A Hero’s Lament). In the song’s middle bridge, he reveals a dark secret:

“Why did I agree to do this stupid song?
I have a degree in chemical engineering”

Who knew? We know that Peter Parker dropped out of college to become a photographer for the Daily Bugle. But until now, we didn’t know what his major was.


Long before Mark Wahlberg became famous as a restaurant franchisor, he was known as Marky Mark, the lead singer of the Funky Bunch. They had a hit in 1991 with a cover version of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side. Their version includes samples from the original but had different lyrics and was retitled Wildside. The song include these great lines:

“Cause deep inside Annie had aspirations
Besides that she had expectations
Wanted to be a chemical engineer”

Unfortunately, it does not end well for Annie, who is played by an uncredited actress in the music video.


A ChemE major takes a hit on the wild side. Still from Marky Mark on YouTube

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades–1986

In 1986, the U.S. band Timbuk 3 released their debut album which contained the hit song  The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades. The music video got extended play on MTV, back when MTV consisted almost entirely of music videos in rotation. The video features a burro, the mascot for my alma mater, Colorado School of Mines. The song refers to nuclear science rather than chemical engineering, but really, that burro and the harmonica solo.

Incidentally, The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades is the title of a 1990 episode of ALF, a television sit-com.


The future’s so bright I put a TV on a burro. Still from Timbuk3 on YouTube


Just a few weeks before I graduated from college in 1981 there was a Doonesbury cartoon that became wildly popular among my classmates. It became the buzz at school because it pointed out how crazy high the demand for chemical engineers had become.

Earlier in the year, all of us seniors were flying around the country interviewing with the major oil companies and receiving job offers from every company we talked to. It was madness. I interviewed with eight firms from California to Louisiana and received offers from all of them at starting salaries that exceeded what my parents made combined.

Little did we know, the oil industry would collapse a year later, throwing many of us, including me, into unemployment.


BD is tired of coddling lazy chemical engineers. Image from

The Graduate–1967

The granddaddy of all chemical engineering pop culture references is a famous scene in The Graduate, the 1967 movie directed by Mike Nichols (who won the Academy Award for his work) and co-written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. In the scene Mr McGuire (Walter Brooke) advises young Ben (Dustin Hoffman) that that there is a great future in plastics. However, he doesn’t say you have to know anything about chemistry to reap the rewards of that future.


I just want to say one word to you. Still from Movieclips on YouTube

Space Oddity–2013

And finally, I want to point to a 2013 cover version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity performed by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield while onboard the International Space Station (ISS). This song has nothing to do with chemical engineering and Mr Hadfield is a mechanical engineer, not a chemical engineer. I just like the song and the visuals of the earth zipping by in the background of this music video.

I’m glad David Bowie had an opportunity to see this before his death just over two years later. In fact, without his intervention, the video may not have been made available (Independent Jan 2016).

According to NASA, Mr Hadfield is the first and so far only astronaut to record music videos in space.


Can you hear me major Tom? Still from Canadian Space Agency on YouTube.

Update1: To complete the circle, check out this video of the "real" Captain Kirk, William Shatner, and a fellow Canadian, singing Rocket Man at the Science Fiction Film Awards.

Update2: Inquiring minds want to know. If Peter Parker dropped out of college, when did he earn a degree in chemical engineering.


by George Taniwaki

This post describes the final six classes I took to obtain the Microsoft Artificial Intelligence Certificate. Four were required and two were optional. For a description of the first six classes I took, see this May 2019 blog post.

DAT236x – Deep Learning Explained

Deep learning is the use of machine learning on large datasets, often using neural networks. It is used in fields such as computer vision, speech recognition, and language processing (topics covered in more detail in later classes). Techniques include logistic regression, multilayer perceptron, convolutional neural networks, recurrent neural networks, and long short-term memory.

Time: 10 hours on 6 modules

Score: Missed 4 homework questions and 2 knowledge check questions for a score of 92%

DAT236x Score  DAT236x Certificate

DAT257x – Reinforcement Learning Explained

Reinforcement learning assumes a problem can be modeled as a Markov decision process. There is a set of discrete states (S), an agent that can perform a set of actions (A) selected from a set of decision policies (Π). Each possible action will result in a reward (R) and a new state (S’). The goal is to find the optimum policy π(s) for all s in S or to determine if a given policy is optimal.

Solutions to the reinforcement learning problem include use of multi-arm bandits, regret minimization, dynamic programming (Bellman equation), policy evaluation and optimization, linear function approximation, deep neural networks, and deep Q-learning. Advanced topics include likelihood ratio methods, variance reduction, and actor-critic.

I have an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering where I learned about control theory and Markov chains. However, that coursework only covered analog PID controllers. The topics in this class were new to me and so it was slow going.

Time: 16 hours for 10 modules

Score: Missed 7 knowledge check questions early on, then slowed down and got the rest right. Missed 3 lab questions. Final score of 91%

DAT257x Score  DAT257x Certificate

DEV287x – Speech Recognition Systems

Speech recognition is an interdisciplinary activity that combines signal processing, acoustics, linguistics, and domain knowledge with computer science. The topics covered in this course include:

  1. Fundamental theory – Phonetics, words and syntax, performance metrics
  2. Speech signal processing – Feature extraction, mel filtering, log compression, Feature normalization
  3. Acoustic modeling – Markov chains, feedforward deep neural networks, sequence based objective function
  4. Language modelingN-gram models, language model evaluation (likelihood, entropy, perplexity), LM operations (n-gram pruning, interpolating probabilities, merging), class-based LMs, neural network LMs
  5. Speech decoding – Weighted finite state transducers, WFST and acceptors, graph composition
  6. Advanced topics – Improved objective functions, sequential objective function, sequence discriminative objective functions

This class was pretty awful and I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. It consists mostly of text displayed in the edX courseware. It would have been helpful to if video or audio lectures were included to show voice recognition in action. The text itself was a split into multiple web pages containing embedded MathML equations, making is unsearchable. I ended up copying and pasting all the text into a Word document.

The lab assignments in this class are provided as Python files designed for Linux. Some labs require a Linux shell and would not run in Visual Studio on Windows. I would expect instructors in a Microsoft sponsored course to design lessons that could run on Windows. Simply putting the code in Jupyter notebooks would have made it easier to read and to work with.

Some labs require a Python package called OpenFST that does not compile with the latest build tools available from Microsoft. Again, I would expect instructors to design lessons that could run on Windows.

Time: 6 hours for 6 modules

Score: None, I did not take this class for credit

DEV287x Score

DEV288x – Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Natural language processing consists of many separate but related tasks. These include transcription, translation, conversation, and image captioning.

Machine translation has evolved from conventional statistical machine translation (STM) that uses hand-coded phrase pairs, to neural machine translation that use deep neural networks to create end-to-end sequence probabilities to translate entire sentences at a time.

The deep semantic similarity model (DSSM) is a DNN model for representing text strings as vectors. It can be used for information retrieval and entity ranking tasks.

Natural language understanding requires spoken language processing, continuous word representations, neural knowledgebase embedding, and KB-based question answering. NLP can be enhanced using deep reinforcement learning.

Finally, image captioning requires multimodal intelligence, combining image recognition and assigning labels to images in a natural language format.

Time: 10 hours for 6 modules

Score: None, I did not take this class for credit

DEV288x Score

DEV290x – Computer Vision and Image Analysis

This course is an excellent overview of the state-of-the-art in computer vision. It starts with a description of classical methods including thresholding, clustering, region growing, template matching, and feature detection (Sobel edges and Harris corners).

Next it covers object classification and detection algorithms such as Viola-Jones, histogram of oriented gradients (HOG), deep learning, extending classifiers into detectors, object proposals, and introduces convolutional neural networks (CNN).

Finally, the course introduces advanced topics such as super-pixels and conditional random fields, deep segmentation, and transfer learning.

Time: 10 hours for 20 modules

Score: Missed 4 quiz questions and 1 final exam question for a score of 94%

DEV290x Score  DEV290x Certificate

DAT264x – Microsoft Professional Capstone : Artificial Intelligence

This is the last class for the certificate. Similar to the capstone for the Microsoft Data Science certificate, it is a month-long project designed as a contest hosted by Unlike the capstone class for the Data Science certificate, there is no report, the grade is based solely on the contest score. For a description of the April 2019 contest, see this [future date] blog post.

I used Microsoft’s cognitive neural toolkit (CNTK) package for Python for my solution. I had a hard time debugging my code. CNTK is not as popular as Google’s Tensorflow, so searching error messages on the web gives few results.

Time: 30 hours for single assignment

Score: Log-loss error of 0.22 for a final score of 95%

DAT264x Score  DAT264x Certificate

Final Certificate

Below is my certificate of completion for the Microsoft Professional Program, Artificial Intelligence Certificate.


* * * *

As an aside, starting in January 2019, edX has changed the way it handles students who audit courses. To encourage more students to pay for its courses, edX now limits access to course content to 30 days after enrollment. After 30 days, you lose access, even if you have posted items on the discussion board. Further, it eliminated access to the assessment content (quizzes, labs, and exams) entirely unless you pay. This sucks.

I hope Microsoft will provide funding to edX to allow audit students to participate. Or Microsoft should stop working with edX and move its content to another MOOC platform that supports audit students. I’ve paid over $2000 to participate in the edX courses. But I always audit a course before paying for the content. I think the try-before-you-buy model is essential to get students to trust they will get their money’s worth. Preventing audit students from seeing the assessment content will make it difficult to gain their trust in the value of that content.


Digital billboard by LKDN and Blip

by George Taniwaki

If you want to gain attention of people outside your social circle, you need to get your message in front of strangers. One way to do this is to use billboard advertising. Billboard advertising, also called outdoor advertising or out-of-home advertising, can be expensive. It is also impersonal. However, it can generate a lot of impressions and can generate additional word-of-mouth or news publicity.

Every form of publicity you create should have a call for action. It should include a URL, phone number, or email address. In the example billboard at the top of this blog post, note the short URL that points to the Living Kidney Donor Network and includes the patient’s first name. It’s easy to remember and the LKDN web page can contain additional information to help potential donors learn more about you and the donation process.

Do-it-yourself billboard

If you own a billboard or know someone who does, you can paint your own billboard. A do-it-yourself billboard is pretty uncommon, but I found one case (Kidney Dialysis News, Dec 2013).


Example of hand-painted billboard

Rent a static billboard

More likely, you don’t own your own billboard and so will have to rent one. The most common type of billboard is static. The image is printed on paper or canvas and will remain in the billboard until it is manually covered by a new sign.

There are two costs to consider when renting a billboard. First is the up-front costs for design and production. This can range from free to a few hundred dollars. The second is the rental fee. The rental fee will be based on the amount of traffic that passes by the billboard and the scarcity of billboard space in the area where you want to place your sign. You will want to compare the total cost per impression of a billboard versus the other activities you are employing to find a donor. For a good primer on measuring advertising and publicity effectiveness, see Real Numeracy Sep 2019.

All billboard companies provide design services. If you want to do your own design work or hire your own designer, ask the billboard company for the dimensions of their billboards. Also ask for the required resolution for artwork and what file format the artwork should be delivered in. Check if they accept RGB color PDF files or require CMYK color.

For smaller billboards, the images are printed on a 27” x 40” sheet of paper. Multiple sheets can be tiled to produce larger images. Larger billboards are usually printed on 10-foot wide sheets of canvas using a special ink jet printer. Again, larger images are created by tiling sheets.

Additional benefit of a billboard

There is another impact that a billboard can generate. Your effort could get picked up by a local TV station or newspaper where an even larger audience will see it. I found several stories about billboards used to find kidney donors on the web. A few are reproduced below along with links to the news stories they were contained in.


PaulBillboard  RandyBillboardJoshuaBillboardMandieBillboardMirandaBillboard

Eight examples of static billboards that got in the news

First row: Tracy (from WBIR-TV, Apr 2016), Jacob (from WKYC-TV, Apr 2019), Jessica (from WDJT-TV, Apr 2018)

Second row:  Paul (from NY Daily News, Jul 2015), Randy (from Atlanta J. Const., Oct 2017)

Third row: Joshua (from USA Today, May 2018), Mandie (from ABC News, Apr 2018), Miranda (from Daily Item, Apr 2016)

Mobile billboards

In urban areas, billboard space is limited. One option to overcome that is to put signage on the side of a truck or attach it to a trailer being towed by a truck or car or even a bicycle. This is different than putting a sign on the side of your own car or truck, which is discussed in a separate blog post (Real Numeracy, Aug 2019).


Example mobile billboard for Kidney Car, from Kidney Foundation of Canada

Rent time on a digital billboards

The latest advance in billboard advertising is digital signage. A digital billboard, like a web display ad, does not require the expense of a physically printed image. It can be placed on any billboard in the world that participates in the digital billboard network. Your ad can be displayed for any length of time on any date or day-of-week and time-of-day you desire.

Your ad will run for 10 second increments that cost between 1 cent to a dollar, depending on the amount of vehicle and pedestrian traffic expected. Most traditional billboard companies like Lamar and Clear Channel have digital options. There are also digital-only companies like Blip. (In advertising parlance each 10 second increment is called a blip.)

Donor billboard

Finally, below is an example of a billboard promoting living donation without a specific patient in mind. The billboard is sponsored by TransplantFirst Academy, an organization started by Risa Simon, the author of the book Shift your Fate.


Donor billboard from TransplantFirst Academy


by George Taniwaki

After completing the requirements for the Microsoft Data Science Certificate (see Jul 2017 blog post), I decided to continue my training and complete the requirements for the Microsoft Artificial Intelligence Certificate.

The AI certificate is similar to the Data Science certificate. It consists of ten courses with content produced by Microsoft and administered by edX. However, unlike the data science courses, none of the AI course assignments use the drag-and-drop Azure Machine Learning interface. Instead, most projects require Python programming ability. A summary of my progress in the first six classes is shown below.

DAT 263x – Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This is a brief overview of artificial intelligence and a plug for the Azure services that support AI. It covers the following topics:

  1. Machine learning – Azure machine learning studio
  2. Language – text processing, natural language processing, Azure language understanding intelligent services (LUIS)
  3. Computer vision – Image processing, Azure face detection and recognition, Azure video indexer
  4. Conversation – Microsoft Bot Framework, Cortana skills  (Text analytics API, Linguistic analysis API, Bing speech-to-text, text-to-speech, translation)
  5. Deep learning – Microsoft cognitive toolkit (CNTK), Azure Data science virtual machine

Oddly, none of the classes that follow use any of the Azure services introduced in this course. Instead, most rely on Python code contained in Jupyter notebooks.

Another quibble. I work at Microsoft (but not for Microsoft since I am a contractor) and most Azure subscriptions are not available to me. Who knows why Microsoft lets me create an account but then doesn’t give me access to resources. See screenshot below.


Time: 6 hours for 4 modules

Score: No missed question for score of 100%

DAT263x Score  DAT263x Certificate

DAT 208x – Introduction to Python for Data Science

This is a DataCamp course using an interactive window for quizzes and a timed final exam. (For my earlier experiences with DataCamp courses, see DAT209x in this Jul 2018 blog post.) The topics covered in this Python course are lists, functions and methods, flow control, installing packages, arrays using NumPy, graphing using MatPlotLib, and dataframes using Pandas.

Time: 12 hours for 20 modules

Score: 100% on the quizzes and labs. Missed 7 on final exam for combined score of 94%

DAT208x Score  DAT208x Certificate

DAT 256x – Essential Math for Machine Learning: Python Edition

This basic math course covers algebra, calculus, tensors, eigenvectors and eigenvalues, statistics, probability theory, sampling, and hypothesis testing. All lessons use Python in Jupyter notebooks.

Time: 8 hours for 4 modules

Score: Missed 1 question for score of 97%

DAT256x Score  DAT256x Certificate

DAT249x – Ethics and Law in Data and Analytics

This is a new course that is now required for both the data science certificate and the artificial intelligence certificate. It covers privacy (including GDPR), explainability (XAI), and power and trust (bias). The course is taught using the traditional legal framework called Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion (IRAC).

Time: 5 hours for 4 modules

Score: No error in the labs and missed 2 questions on the final exam for 96%

DAT249x Score  DAT249x Certificate

DAT203.1x – Data Science Essentials

I took this class as part of my certificate for Data Science. See my Jul 2017 blog post for details.

DAT203.2x – Principles of Machine Learning

I took this class as part of my certificate for Data Science. See my Jul 2018 blog post for details.

For my results in the remaining classes, see Microsoft Artificial Intelligence Certificate-Part 2