Interview Noah Gift #rstats #python #erlang

Here is an interview with Noah Gift, CTO of Sqor SportsSports . He is a prolific coder in Python , R and Erlang.  Since he is an expert coder in both R and Python, I decided to take his views on both. Noah is also the author of the book

Ajay (A) -Describe your journey in science and coding. What interests you and keeps you motivated in writing code.
N- Artificial intelligence motivates me to continue to learn and write code, even after 40.  In addition, functional programming and cool languages like Erlang are a pleasure to use.  Finally, I enjoy problem solving, whether it comes in the form of mastering brazilian jiu jitsu, rock climbing or writing code every week.  It is a game, that is enjoyable, and the fact that these types of skills take years to learn, makes it very enjoyable to make progress day by day, potentially until the day I die.
The data science community itself has debated this many times. What are your views on it? How do we decided when to use Python and when to use R, and when to use both ( or not)
N- I think R is best for Data Science and Statistics and for cutting edge machine learning, this is what I do.  For python, it is very tough to beat it for writing quick scripts or turning thought into working code.  I wouldn’t necessarily use either language to build scalable systems though.  I think they are both prototyping or “batch” scripting systems.
A- Describe your work in Sports Analytics – what are some of the interesting things about data science in sports
N- I think rating players and teams using ELO rating is an interesting example of simple math used to make powerful conclusions.  For example, this has been used effectively in MMA and basketball.  Machine learning around movement, say basketball players moving on the court, is also going to be a very interesting Data Science application in sports.  We will be able to tell when a player should be pulled out of the game for being tired.  Finally, with wearables, we may soon be able to treat athletes the same way we treat machines.  Data Science is sports is going to grow exponentially in the near future.
A- How do we get the younger students and next generation excited about coding. How do make sure people from poorer countries also learn coding. Can we teach coding on the mobile?
N- Using simple methods and simple open source languages to solve problems is a good approach.  For example, to program in python or erlang or R, and especially if it is functional oriented, it is very simple to write code.  The problem I see in motivating and teaching people to program is when needless complexity, like object oriented design, is thrown in.  Keeping it simple and teaching people to write simple functions is the best way to go at first.
A  -Describe your methodology for work-life balance. How important is health and balance important for programmers and hackers.
N-I train martial arts, specially MMA and BJJ, several times a week and train overall 6 days a week.  All true hackers/programmers, should seriously consider being in peak physical condition (almost at the level of a pro athlete) because of the side benefits of:  clarity of thought, confidence, pain tolerance, endurance, happiness and more.  In addition, taking breaks, including vacations, just like how professional athletes take rest days are very important.  How much work is done in one day, or one week, or one month is nothing compared to what someone does every day for years.  The overall discipline of doing little bits of work over time is a better way to code until the day you die, like I plan to
 Sqor is a sports social network, that gives you the latest news and scores as well as unfiltered access to athletes.

Noah Gift is Chief Technical Officer and General Manager of Sqor. In this role, Noah is responsible for general management, product development and technical engineering. Prior to joining Sqor, Noah led Web Engineering at Linden Lab. He has B.S. in Nutritional Science from Cal Poly S.L.O, an Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems from CSULA, and an MBA from UC Davis. You can read more on him here


Some Articles on Python by Noah

Cloud business analytics: Write your own dashboard

Data science in the cloud Investment analysis with IPython and pandas

Linear optimization in Python, Part 1: Solve complex problems in the cloud with Pyomo

Linear optimization in Python, Part 2: Build a scalable architecture in the cloud

Using Python to create UNIX command line tools


Author: Ajay Ohri

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