Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where it began: John Elder and Dean Abbott at Barron Associates

I came across this photo today and couldn't resist. John Elder and I worked at the company Barron Associates, Inc. (BAI) in Charlottesville, VA in the 80s (John was employee #1). Hopefully you can identify John in the back right and me in the front right, though it will take some good pattern matching to do so!

The Founder and President of the company was Roger Barron. Both John and I were introduced to statistical learning methods at BAI and of course went on to careers in the field now known as Data Mining or Predictive Analytics (among other things). I write about my experience with BAI in the forthcoming book Journeys to Data Mining: Experiences from 15 Renowned Researchers, Ed. by Dr Mohamed Medhat Gaber, published by Springer. Authors in the book include John (thanks to John for recommending my inclusion in the book), Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, Mohammed J. Zaki, and of course several others.

The photo appeared as I was searching for descriptions of our field back in the 80s and was looking in particular for the Barron and Barron paper "Statistical Learning Networks: A Unifying View", where "Statistical Learning Networks" was the phrase of interesting, along with "Models", "Classifiers", and "Neural Networks". We used to refer to the field as "Pattern Recognition" and "Artificial Intelligence". It's interesting to note that pattern recognition on Wikipedia contains a list of "See Also" terms that includes the more modern terms such as data mining and predictive analytics.

I will post within a couple days on the pattern recognition terms of the day and how they are changing.