Why Machine Learning needs its own language, and why Julia is the one

Abstract: We ask, what might the ideal ML language of the future look like? Our thoughts are published in this blog post:

https://julialang.org/blog/2017/12/ml&pl

As programming languages (PL) people, we have watched with great interest as machine learning (ML) has exploded – and with it, the complexity of ML models and the frameworks people are using to build them. State-of-the-art models are increasingly programs, with support for programming constructs like loops and recursion, and this brings out many interesting issues in the tools we use to create them – that is, programming languages.

While machine learning does not yet have a dedicated language, several efforts are effectively creating hidden new languages underneath a Python API (like TensorFlow) while others are reusing Python as a modelling language (like PyTorch). We’d like to ask – are new ML-tailored languages required, and if so, why?

We will also discuss how Julia evolved to get where it is today, and how it is evolving to taken on some of the challenges posed by machine learning.

Bio: Dr. Viral Shah is a co-founder of the Julia project. Julia is a programming language geared towards a fresh approach to technical computing, with a special focus on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. It is used by hundreds of thousands of programmers around the world, and taught at dozens of universities worldwide. Viral is also the CEO of Julia Computing, a company founded to help businesses leverage Julia to achieve analytical, scientific, and AI breakthroughs. In addition to Julia, Viral is also a co-author of the open source Circuitscape project, a tool used widely by ecologists for conservation.

Viral is passionate about the intersection of technology, policy, and society. He joined the Government of India’s iconic Aadhaar ID project in its early days. Working with Nandan Nilekani, he redesigned India's social security and subsidy delivery systems. Nandan and Viral captured their experiences and ideas in their book - Rebooting India.

Viral holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a B.Engg. in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai.

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