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Computer Science/ Machine Learning - Choose the university or the course? watch

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    I'm finally at a point where my deadlines to respond to offers are quickly approaching. I've basically whittled it down to two offers in my head but choosing between the two is incredibly difficult. I've asked literally everyone I know in person, online, a interviewer at a company I interviewed at last week, and a random Japanese person in an onsen (hot spring). I'd be grateful for any help you have!

    Quick background: I'm from an aeronautical engineering background, moving into the CS domain. I've just completed a 6 month research placement in machine learning and find it really interesting. That sort of implies data sciency things to me, reinforcement learning, AI etc - that sort of thing. What I'm not sure is should I go for a course specifically on machine learning (limit future options) or go for a course in general CS with a couple of modules in machine learning (keeping options open, but in general the modules aren't as interesting)?

    My two options are:

    Oxford
    -MSc Computer Science

    UCL
    -MSc Computational Statistics & Machine Learning

    The latter is very machine learning based, but I also feel like I'll be kicking myself later for turning down an offer from Oxford of all places. Oxford have told me I can focus my research project on machine learning and they will definitely have at least 2 modules in machine learning.

    I'm also taking Udacity's 6 month nano degree course in Deep Learning to get a good practical hands-on approach to machine learning, which could back-up my Oxford degree if I decided to carry on in ML.

    Then again UCL is a really good university as well. It's ranked pretty poorly for computer science, but from those I've spoken to they believe it's pretty good for ML, and I feel as though they have stronger links with Deepmind than Oxford (based on its foundation..).

    I don't know - any help would seriously be helpful, whether or not you have taken these courses, or are even in the same field as these. All points of views will help me!

    Thanks
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    (Original post by ViralRiver)
    ...
    The first thing that jumped out to me was the fact that you're questioning whether to specialise or not which suggests that you're not ready to or not sure and hence the more general course is right for you. Reputation and rankings don't really matter. It's what you study, who with and what your projects are on if you want to stay in the field.

    From the sounds if it the Oxford course is more suited to what you're looking for as it's general so you can explore your interests but can also pick modules that interest you and do a focused project in something that interests you and will be the broad knowledge base which can be topped up with the nano degree course.

    Are there any other factors such as finance that play a role in this?
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    I knew someone who completed the MSc at Oxford - didn't seem too happy with it. Said it lacked applied coursework. I reckon the ucl program is considerably better for someone with experience... then again, I dunno if I'd be able to turn oxford down either
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    The first thing that jumped out to me was the fact that you're questioning whether to specialise or not which suggests that you're not ready to or not sure and hence the more general course is right for you. Reputation and rankings don't really matter. It's what you study, who with and what your projects are on if you want to stay in the field.

    From the sounds if it the Oxford course is more suited to what you're looking for as it's general so you can explore your interests but can also pick modules that interest you and do a focused project in something that interests you and will be the broad knowledge base which can be topped up with the nano degree course.

    Are there any other factors such as finance that play a role in this?
    Thanks for the reply .

    In all honesty, when I first applied I was dead set on a general CS degree, but since applying back in October I've had a 5-6 month stint in research in the ML field (the specialisation within CS). I'll be honest and say this has changed my view of Oxford's course (I now prefer the idea of a specialised degree in ML - i.e. UCL's). But I'm worried that 5 months is such a small timeframe, I would have liked to have had a longer stint before deciding to specialise.

    Also, in such a rapidly changing field, I need to consider that ML may become obsolete in the future and replaced with different technology - in this case maybe a more general CS theory degree would help me pick up new skills outside of the ML's domain. I don't want to pidgeonhole myself in a technology that may become outdated.

    The general degree would open up more career options, but I'd be less sought after compared to those who specialised in specific fields. For example, I'd be much more suitable for a software engineering job coming from CS rather than ML, but someone from a specific software engineering specialised degree would have one over me.

    There are two very big figureheads within my specialised field within ML - David Silver and Nando de Freitas (obviously many more, but these two have significance). The former was at UCL, and the latter at Oxford. These two are literally pioneers in the field. But they've both left... and gone to DeepMind. I'd very much like to see myself working at DeepMind in the future. DeepMind has close affiliation with UCL (this is also great news for UCL). But then again Oxford offers an incredibly amazing module (yes.. 1 module only..) in DL for NLP taught by about 8 different members of DeepMind. So they obviously have interest in Oxford grads as well.

    ========

    Apart from course content and recognition there are a couple other factors. Finance as you said. I don't see me getting a scholarship from either, but they're both relatively equivalent in price. Of course UCL is in London which will be more expensive living-wise.

    My girlfriend will be working in London (Holborn actually) - so that's a major plus for UCL. And I'd live with her which would cut down accommodation costs at least.

    ==========

    I fully understand how much of a 'personal' problem this may be - but it is really helpful to get other's thoughts so I can assure myself I'm not delusional or making ill-thought choices! I even booked a 40 minute skype session with my previous university's career service for some additional advice xD .

    Thanks again .
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    (Original post by Sg23)
    I knew someone who completed the MSc at Oxford - didn't seem too happy with it. Said it lacked applied coursework. I reckon the ucl program is considerably better for someone with experience... then again, I dunno if I'd be able to turn oxford down either
    Thanks for that. It's 100% the impression I've been given from their course structure. Seems too formal with not enough applied coursework. Perfect if I were choosing a path of academia and not industry. I'm not set on either yet, but I feel as though I'm leaning towards the latter.
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    Ahh here we go: referencing the modules at both UCL and Oxford: https://deepmind.com/blog/our-collab...ance-field-ai/ . Basically making the decision no easier to make at all!
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    To those with a similar dilemma, Oxford are most likely not running the deepmind course DL for NLP in the next academic year.

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    What did you choose in the end?
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    Do you know which course is more competitive MSc in ML or CSML or data science and machine learning ? I am already rejected from machine learning . Is there still hope for CSML and DATA SCIENCE & ML MSc ? I applied at 30 January.
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    I hope you chose the Oxford course. ML is brilliant now, but like most narrow AI suffers from "waves" : artificial intelligence swaps every twenty years from being "the future" to "a failure" and an Oxford degree sets you up well for the future of Cs, which is completely different to what it was 20 years ago. Admittedly as someone with an offer from Oxford Compsci for next term I may be biased, but I'm only parroting what an AI "expert" from Braintree told me in a conversation after a lecture
 
 
 

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