Turtles! Hill Climbing! Hammers! Paper bags!

By Frances Buontempo

Previously, Frances Buontempo has demonstrated a variety of ways to program yourself out of a paper bag using machine learning techniques. This begged the question: how do you program your way into a paper bag? This talk will show you how, beginning with rectangular paper bags and moving on to advanced topics of crumpled paper bags. If you walk along a line, say the edge of a paper bag, how can you tell you’re as far down (or up) as possible? Using turtle graphics, you can make a turtle walk a line or even hill climb. He will have to try the whole edge to decide when to stop. If he follows the steepest gradient, he may end up in a small dip and miss a lower spot, however using the gradient is quicker than trying everywhere. You can then try advanced topics including stochastic gradient descent (do something random) or simulated annealing (hitting it with a hammer). These techniques underpin many areas including neural networks. There won’t be time to give a full talk or tutorial on neural networks, but you will go away prepared to follow a variety of neural network, deep learning and other machine learning talks and demos and even try them yourself. This topic isn’t as hard as people make sound. For the curious, for experts who want a different slant on what they know and for people who want to watch the turtles move.