Machine Learning Virtual Summer School

Duke Machine Learning School Concludes Summer 2021 Virtual Offering

Duke’s +Data Science (+DS) recently concluded its 2021 Machine Learning Virtual Summer School (MLvSS). This event, the ninth machine learning school held since 2017, sold out more than a month in advance and completely filled a 100-person waitlist. This high demand reflects both the substantial demand for instruction in methods driving the rapid growth in artificial intelligence, as well as a keen interest in tapping into high-quality instruction from Duke teachers with expertise in the mathematics and statistics that underlie modern machine learning methods.

The MLvSS, held in a live virtual format June 14-17, 2021, attracted 170 participants, both student and professional, representing 43 universities, institutes, and corporations from across the world. The full course description is available at

Feedback from MLvSS participants revealed substantial enthusiasm for both the course content and methods.

“You covered an amazing amount of depth and breadth in a short time so students could actually apply what they learned when they left,” wrote one participant.

Another participant commented: “My understanding of those concepts and techniques has substantially improved, to the level that I can hope to be able to consider how to use those in my own research program.”

“We were very pleased by the active engagement of the participants in all components of the MLvSS,” said Ricardo Henao, PhD, associate director of AI Health and assistant professor in Biostatistics & Bioinformatics and Electrical & Computer Engineering. “There was excellent engagement in the lectures, coding sessions, and case studies, as well as a positive response to the diversity of topics covered going from the basic concepts of machine learning to applications in digital health, and ethical and societal implications of machine learning. We appreciate the instructors who shared their expertise and insight with this broad audience.”

The 3.5-day MLvSS curriculum was designed to provide value to students regardless of their background in mathematics. Each day’s class began by presenting key concepts as intuitively as possible, with minimal math and technical details. As concepts were developed further, more math was introduced, but only the minimum necessary. Then, case studies were used to show how the technology is applied in practice; once again, these discussions emphasized concepts rather than detailed math). Finally, the MLvSS introduced participants to the coding software used to make such technology work in practice.

About Duke +DS

Duke+DataScience (+DS) is a Duke-wide educational initiative devoted to expanding knowledge of and facility with machine learning and other artificial intelligence tools across multiple domains. Since its launch, +DS has reached more than 149,000 learners with the Coursera course “Introduction to Machine Learning,” held 117 short-topic learning experiences, convened 9 multi-day machine learning schools, and the +DS advanced projects program has supported 76 students in substantive applied projects.