A Look Back on ODSC West 2019 – Our Last Physical Event! A Look Back on ODSC West 2019 – Our Last Physical Event!
ODSC West 2019 feels like forever ago, and after the whirlwind year of 2020, it might as well have been. It... A Look Back on ODSC West 2019 – Our Last Physical Event!

ODSC West 2019 feels like forever ago, and after the whirlwind year of 2020, it might as well have been. It was also our last in-person event, as we shifted to virtual events since then due to COVID-19. As we continue preparations for ODSC West 2021 – our first in-person event in almost two years – we’d like to look back on the West 2019 to show what we love about our community, the lessons we’ve learned from the past year, and how this will change in-person events moving forward.

Keynotes from Dawn Song and Rachel Thomas

ODSC West 2019 was headlined by two leading women in data science – Dawn Song of the University of California’s BAIR Lab, and Rachel Thomas, co-founder of fast.ai and Director of the University of San Francisco Center for Applied Data Ethics.

Dawn discussed an important but often overlooked component of the AI lifecycle: Security, specifically with deep learning, and how the stakes are becoming higher as AI becomes more intelligent.

Meanwhile, Rachel discussed the issue of algorithmic bias, and made her point with several recent case studies and suggestions for how to prevent bias from affecting our own models.

For the AiX side of ODSC West, Cassie Kozyrkov, PhD, Chief Decision Scientist at Google, spoke on creative ways to make data useful. Michael I. Jordan, professor at the University of California, Berkeley AI Lab, spoke on the future of AI and ML.

Sessions by leading and emerging data scientists

Going beyond our keynotes, we had a number of influential and established data scientists showcasing their expertise. A few other highlighted speakers included:

  • Ashok Srivastava, PhD | Chief Data Officer & Senior Vice President | Intuit
  • Reza Zadeh, PhD | Founder & CEO | Adjunct Professor | Matroid | Stanford University
  • Dr. Ganapathi Pulipaka | Chief Data Scientist | Accenture
  • Michael Tamir, PhD and Jacob Baumbach | Chief ML Scientist & Head of Machine Learning/AI and Deep Learning Engineer | SIG
  • Jared Lander | Chief Data Scientist, Author of R for Everyone, Professor | Lander Analytics, Columbia Business School

ODSC WestNetworking in-person

For those of you who don’t remember, networking events are like analog Zoom meetings, aka face-to-face conversations where you don’t use webcams. In the Before Times, people would congregate during conferences to meet new people, learn about other businesses, make friends, and share a drink or six (pending on how many drink vouchers they get or if there’s an open bar.) Each of our events would feature a number of networking events, and at ODSC West 2021, they will return in a smaller, more intimate setting.


An in-person expo hall

In-between sessions, the Expo Hall was a fun place to be. Various companies from around the country would come by to show off their products and services, which would range from anything from simple software business solutions to real-time sentiment analysis and computer vision analysis. Plus, swag, swag, and more swag. Gotta load up on those free pens and shirts right?



Changes to ODSC West 2021

We’ve learned a lot since our last in-person event. Going beyond just the effects of COVID-19, the hands-on approach of a conference goes a long way. Just like colleges use as a selling point, there’s an appeal to smaller class sizes and a personal approach from speakers. Here are a few things that’ll change at ODSC West 2021:

  1. Smaller overall capacity: We’re not looking to shove 5000+ people into the expo hall across three days, rather, we’re looking to keep it a focused, intimate group of 1500 or so. We’ll make a better call closer to the event as we keep an eye on state, federal, and convention center guidelines.
  2. Smaller sessions: While it’s fun to be in a large group during sessions, we’re looking to keep training sessions smaller, so that each attendee can get the attention they deserve during the conference. This will allow speakers to fine-tune their message as well and to better respond to anyone with questions.
  3. An online component: We know that November 2021 might still be a bit too soon for some people to want to go back to in-person events, and that’s okay. We will also be featuring an online component with virtual training sessions, keynotes, and networking so you can experience ODSC West 2021 wherever you are.

Because of our smaller, more focused approach, we will be offering a limited number of tickets to the in-person component of ODSC West 2021. Tickets will be limited and we may or may not increase the capacity of the event. If you’re interested in attending in November, it’s better to secure your ticket ASAP so you don’t miss out. You can register here for 30% off ticket prices for a limited time, and prices will only go up from here.

Alex Landa, ODSC

Alex drinks a lot of coffee and sometimes writes stuff. Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-landa-a0889857/