ODSC Europe 2019

tl;dr 3.5 / 5. Mixed quality overall, but a handful of presentations really stand-out.

My Favorite Talks

I attended ODSC Europe with the goal to learn more about ML deployment and lifecycle management technologies. Three talks really stood out, ordered by quality

  1. Making Data Useful by Cassie Kozyrkov, Head of Decision Intelligence at Google.
  2. Introduction to Kubeflow Pipelines by Dan Anghel, Machine Learning Cloud Engineer at Google.
  3. ML in Production: Serverless and Painless by Oliver Gindele, PhD, Head of ML at Datatonic.
    • Actual slides but on LinkedIn Slideshare which kind of irritates me.
  4. Practical Methods to Optimize Model Stability by Davide Serra and Kishan Manani at Farfetch.

Takeaways

ODSC had some great talks, but I don't think I'd attend again. I'd rather try SciPy or a higher profile conference like ICML before trying again.

The quality is very mixed. I thought Dan Anghel did a wonderful job. He knew what he wanted to say and how he was going to say it. That's difficult to do normally, but nearly his entire talk was a live demo. Dan impressed me, and I left with a clear understanding of the problems KubeFlow does and does not solve.

In contrast, I thought many talks lacked focus or were poorly marketed. ML in Production: Serverless and Painless was poorly titled in my opinion. I expected more discussion on how ML algorithms are deployed and maintained on a serverless architecture. Instead, 80% of the talk was on preparing a specific algorithm for production (which ran on users phones, which is serverless depending on how you define it).

There were still some talks that were just sloppy or unprepared. ODSC Europe was the first time I walked out of a talk because the presenter was transparently unprepared to be there.

So yeah, some talks were outstanding. Some were okay, and others were flat out bad.

ODSC is very slow to share content after the conference. Recordings are available 4-5 weeks after the end of the conference, and slides are made available only as presenters share them with ODSC after the conference.

I have every respect for the volunteers, and we can't all be PyCon and publish videos hours after recording, but I do wish the recordings were published quicker. In the meantime, attendees have to check the slides list for updates or wait for an email.