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Information Studies: Data Science (track)
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Madli Uutma

Student Information Studies: Data Science

Madli Uutma
Photo: Madli Uutma

From Psychology and Law to Data Science

‘Before studying Data Science, I completed two Bachelor’s programmes - Psychology and Law. I have found that people frequently make important judgments, such as which political party to vote for, based on intuition rather than on a careful examination of evidence. This is often because gathering the information is time consuming. Data Science gives me the opportunity to make this information accessible and comprehensible for a general public.’

‘An appealing factor that encouraged me to apply is the fact that students with very diverse backgrounds are welcome to the programme. I have enjoyed working together with computer scientists, business students and social scientists. Data Science is challenging in a technical sense and the same results are expected of everyone, regardless of their background. And because the UvA has consistently rated  highly in the world university rankings, I knew that I would challenge myself academically.’

Neural networks

’I like that our assignments are very practical and diverse. During the first months I investigated brand equity with Instagram data, created a model to predict SAT test results and used machine learning to classify animal images. We had the opportunity to meet many data scientists and hear more about the options we have in our future career. When I look back at my year studying Data Science, I think about the fun times I had studying together with some of my classmates. Before the exams, we often divided the material between us and tried explaining it to other members of the group. This made studying for exams less stressful. ‘

’Somewhat surprisingly to myself, I liked machine learning the most because it demystified an area that I previously thought was very technical and complex.  In addition, I found it interesting to think about the similarity between our brains and computers. In my thesis I am exploring how to use neural networks to generate audio. I have solidified my knowledge in statistics and learned to create interactive visualisations.’

‘Currently, I am doing an internship at IBM Centre of Advanced Studies and writing my Master’s thesis. I got in touch with IBM through the thesis fair we had at the university. So far, I am very happy with my choice because I have a lot of freedom and support in the projects I pursue. Both of my thesis supervisors – Zoltan Szlavik at IBM and Thomas Mensink at the UvA - are very motivating. In the future, I would like to concentrate on Machine Learning and Data Visualisation. I would like to work with innovative companies that improve the world and continue researching human behaviour.’