From Summer of Code to Game of Thrones on the back of a JavaScript Dragon (Part 3)

Friday, August 26, 2016

This guest post is a part of a short series about Tatyana Goldberg, Guy Yachdav and Christian Dallago and the journey that was inspired by their participation as Google Summer of Code mentors for the BioJS project. Check out the first and second posts in the series.

This blog post marks the end of our short series following our adventures in open source. As you may recall, it all started thanks to Google Summer of Code (GSoC) which brought our team together. The GSoC collaboration spurred us to start a class at Technical University of Munich (TUM) that eventually took on the Game of Thrones data science project which became an international sensation.

The success of our Game of Thrones project opened a lot of doors. First, we were invited to participate in the Morpheus Cup which is a prestigious university olympiad that brings together students from all over Europe to compete in digital challenges.

Our team rocked the competition winning two challenges and making it to the finalist stage in the third challenge. We were honored to represent our university and grateful for Google’s sponsorship of our team.
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The students and mentors of the Game of Thrones project at the Morpheus Cup challenge in May 2016. From left to right: Georgi Anastasov, Emiliyana Kalinova, Maximilian Bandle (all students), Guy Yachdav (mentor), Christian Dallago (mentor), Tobias Piffrader, Theodor Chesleran (both students) and Tatyana Goldberg (mentor).
Another opportunity that followed was an invitation to speak at a TEDx event at TUM on July 28th, 2016. In the event, titled “The Common Extraordinary,” Guy presented our work with data mining as bioinformaticians, sharing how we’ve made the field of data science accessible to our students and how we helped popularize it through the Game of Thrones project.

More speaking engagements are already scheduled: at meetups, coffee talks and conferences where we plan to keep evangelizing data mining and tell the story of our open source adventure.

What’s next? We’re excited to continue as mentors and org admins in GSoC and to carry on teaching data science and JavaScript at the university. In between classes and our daily research work we’re now being asked by friends, family members, colleagues and even strangers whether we can help them use data mining to answer questions on subjects ranging from politics, science, sports and even their personal lives.

Just the other day we were approached with the idea of developing an app that would take in a set of personality traits, process them along with social network data and help in suggesting life decisions: Should I date that person? Should I really take this job? Is Baltimore the city for me?

That interest goes even beyond our personal circles. A recent trade media report pointed out that by using machine learning in an unexpected context, the Game of Thrones project demonstrated the disruptive force of data mining. This force, the article continues, could make an impact on the next industrial revolution - Industry 4.0 - where data plays a key role.

Do you have interesting questions you’d like to answer or a data set you’d like to make predictions with? Curious about BioJS or our JavaScript course? Please reach out to us on Twitter or in the comments.

In the near future we dream of starting our own consultancy, as we already have requests from companies that want our help with upcoming data science projects. It seems our team has found its entrepreneurial bent!

We hope enjoyed this trilogy of blog posts, that our story has inspired you and that you too will continue to adventure in open source and collaborative development. If you’re not involved with Google Summer of Code, consider joining. It’s a great way to build up your project and share it with the world. More importantly, it lets you work with amazing people with whom, as we learned, it is possible to reach the sky.

By Tatyana Goldberg, Christian Dallago, and Guy Yachdav, BioJS