Apart from business trips targeting at deepening the knowledge and exchanging experiences in the field of digital libraries (trips to conferences such as ECDL, JCDL), we remember also about development in the general understood IT field. Hence the idea to take part in the conference focusing on diverse IT topics. Such conference allows us to become familiar with the innovations from the world of IT and use them potentially in our projects.
Student’s Festival of Computing Science 2010 took place in Cracow from 11th till 13 th of March, 2010 – a free conference for IT professionals, bringing together well-known speakers from Poland as well as from the rest of the world. Among the speakers of this and previous editions were such people as:
- Jerzy Nawrocki (Assoc. Prof. at PP, creator of XPrince),
- Piotr Jerzy Durka (Assoc. Prof. at UW, brain-computer interface, http://brain.fuw.edu.pl/~durka/),
- Jerzy Tadeusiewicz (Prof., artificial neural networks),
- Chad Fowler (well-known evangelist of Agile, http://chadfowler.com/),
- Joe Armstrong (creator of Erlang programming language, http://armstrongonsoftware.blogspot.com/).
The conference was opened by a lecture of prof. Jerzy Nawrocki on formalism and agility in IT projects, as a response to the syndrome of LOOP:
- L – late,
- O – over budget,
- O – overtime,
- P – poor quality.
He indicated the attempts to solve this problem by various concepts of project management involving the increased formalism (e.g.: ISO9000) or increased agility (e.g.: XP). Both approaches, however, have their drawbacks (formalism: too much documentation, slow decision-making process; agility: no customer on the spot, too short prospect of a plan). Therefore, prof. Nawrocki proposed new project management methodology – XPrince, which takes from both approaches their best, in this way trying to tackle their weaknesses. Quoting the speaker “XP – not on an empty stomach and not before the bedtime”. More on this topic here.
Another interesting speaker was Dr. Michael Korzycki presenting topic of artificial intelligence in e-commerce by using the example of recommendation systems. Those systems also pertains to the digital libraries, and their proper implementation is not trivial. Speaker presented the subject on the basis of Netflix Prize, which aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the recommendation system of a rent-a-DVD service by 10% (the winning algorithm described on the Netflix Prize). According to the company’s estimates, the recommendation system provided 60% of their income! Among the used methods, dr Korzycki drew our attention to the effectiveness of simple heuristics based on the knowledge of human nature, for example, when people have a bad mood they evaluate worse and vice versa. Speaker left listeners with a few conclusions based on his experience (several recommendations systems made for commercial customers):
- recommendations systems are needed due to the increasing number of products,
- there is no silver bullet – those systems require a large amount of knowledge “inserted” in the system,
- the most obvious recommendations are not interesting to the user – after all they can figure them out alone,
- algorithm is an important tool, but we cannot forget that it is also important to present results appropriate on the web page.
Finally short summaries of two other interesting presentations. The first is the lecture on BCI (brain-computer interface) presenting the basic mechanisms by which those devices operate. Speaker mentioned also about the work carried out in this field in Poland at the University of Warsaw – a complete open platform for BCI – OpenBCI. The second presentation was about a tool for building code of IT projects in a flexible manner – Gradle. This project combines the advantages of Ant, Apache Ivy and Maven2, while removing their defects.
Additionally on the SFI’s site can be found videos of presentations from various festival editions. We encourage you to watch!