My overall goal is to find the most general machine learning algorithm possible in order to automate the process of finding solutions to computational problems. Such problems include pattern classification, image modeling, text modeling, and real-time control for robotics and video games. In short, I want a general purpose software "brain." This somewhat vague goal can be divided into two parts: modeling arbitrary high-dimensional joint distributions, and goal-directed action selection.
The task of joint distribution modeling is a generalization of nearly all problems in machine learning. To the extent that it can be solved in general, we can reap benefits in many practical areas. I am focused on the difficulties of modeling general high-dimensional distributions in ways that allow efficient learning and inference; specifically, this includes Bayesian, Markov, and neural network approaches.
Goal-directed action selection refers to the sub-field of reinforcement learning, where a system must learn effective control policies given sparse feedback. I am studying various ways to incorporate feedback to make this learning process efficient for the widest variety of situations.
I have developed interests and experience in many fields related to this project, including: genetic algorithms, neural networks, video game development, virtual reality, cellular automata, various programming tools (C++, Python, OpenGL, iOS), collision detection, rigid-body dynamics simulation, speech synthesis and recognition, machine learning in general, reinforcement learning, artificial curiosity, neural networks (feedforward, self-organizing maps, Boltzmann machines), maximum entropy modeling, Bayesian inference, data compression, etc.
I was born in Burlington, IA. I am currently a PhD student at Iowa State University and owner of a small software company, Brainpower Labs. I like to draw, read, bike, unicycle, juggle, play the piano, cook, eat, and generally try new things. Out of the four events in the SNES game Pilotwings (skydiving, hang gliding, light plane, and rocketbelt), I have tried three.