Michael Higgs, Austin College professor of mathematics and computer science, will present a Sabbatical Series lecture, “Teaching Machines to Learn: A mad dash toward understanding predictive analytics,” on Wednesday, April 4, in Wright Campus Center’s Mabee Hall at 5 p.m. The lecture and the preceding 4:30 p.m. reception are free and open to the public. The events are presented by the College’s Johnson Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in Teaching.
Based on his sabbatical studies during the 2016-2017 academic year, Higgs will summarize advancements in the field of machine learning. The talk concerns applications to predictive analytics that include recent technologies, tools, and frameworks geared toward the “citizen data scientist.”
During his sabbatical, Higgs traveled to 10 countries, including Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Spain, France, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Costa Rico, and Mexico. His several studies during the year included the latest texts in machine learning and modern data visualization tools and mastery of the Python programming language. He also participated in several conferences and workshops and worked with industry clients.
Higgs, who holds Austin College’s J.N. Chadwick Chair in Mathematics, joined the Austin College faculty in 1987. He earned bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from Stanford University and has worked for IBM, Texas Instruments, and privately as a software developer, and as a consultant.
The lecture is presented by Austin College’s Robert and Joyce Johnson Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in Teaching, directed by Dr. Randi Tanglen, associate professor of English. Within the mission of the center is the encouragement of “bold exploration of intellectual frontiers” and “fostering lively intellectual dialogue within and across academic disciplines.”
The Johnson Center schedules a number of events throughout the year, with presentations by Austin College faculty and guest lecturers. Higgs’ lecture concludes the Sabbatical Series for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.