What I learned as a software engineer at a data science conference

Dec 9, 2019 • Avik Das

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at PyData LA 2019. Coming from a software engineering background, I learned some things data scientists may consider basic, but it was a fantastic experience all around. Here’s what I learned.

Tools of the trade

Logos for the tools mentioned below

Even though I know data science concepts, I didn’t know all the tools scientists use daily.

My key insight is the data science community has created tools that are easy to use for beginners and experienced folks alike. We software engineers often gravitate toward complex tools because we put too much emphasis on the code we write, not the business problems we’re solving.

Freely-available data sets

Data science is nothing without data, and it’s possible to get started with extensive data sets that are freely-available.

Deployment and productionization

Easy to use tools aren’t always easy to put into production, but the data science and software engineering communities have come together to produce useful tools in this domain.

What’s the state of the art in data science/machine learning?

In addition to learning about tools, I attended talks about general concepts to see where the data science field is headed next.

You can play around with Quantum Computing today

While I had read up on the basics of quantum computing, I didn’t know how I could play around with it today. I learned how:

Q&A session with Milana Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Stem

The first keynote session was a Q&A session with Milana (Rabkin) Lewis the co-founder and CEO of Stem, a financial platform that simplifies payments for musicians and content creators. These are the insights that stuck out to me:

And all the rest

I learned tons from all the talks, so here are some interesting tidbits that don’t really fit under any other category:

PyData LA 2019 was a fantastically informative three days. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn as much as a I did, to meet all the wonderful people I did, and to share my knowledge with others both on and off the stage.