A Guide to S3 Batch on AWS

AWS just announced the release of S3 Batch Operations. This is a hotly-anticpated release that was originally announced at re:Invent 2018. With S3 Batch, you can run tasks on existing S3 objects. This will make it much easier to run previously difficult tasks like retagging S3 objects, copying objects to another bucket, or processing large numbers of objects in bulk.

In this post, we’ll do a deep dive into S3 Batch. You will learn when, why, and how to use S3 Batch. First, we’ll do an overview of the key elements involved in an S3 Batch job. Then, we’ll walkthrough an example by doing sentiment analysis on a group of existing objects with AWS Lambda and Amazon Comprehend.



Python for NLP: Introduction to the TextBlob Library

This is the seventh article in my series of articles on Python for NLP. In my previous article, I explained how to perform topic modeling using Latent Dirichlet Allocation and Non-Negative Matrix factorization. We used the Scikit-Learn library to perform topic modeling.

In this article, we will explore TextBlob, which is another extremely powerful NLP library for Python. TextBlob is built upon NLTK and provides an easy to use interface to the NLTK library. We will see how TextBlob can be used to perform a variety of NLP tasks ranging from parts-of-speech tagging to sentiment analysis, and language translation to text classification.


The Illustrated Word2vec

I find the concept of embeddings to be one of the most fascinating ideas in machine learning. If you’ve ever used Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Google Translate, or even smartphone keyboard with next-word prediction, then chances are you’ve benefitted from this idea that has become central to Natural Language Processing models. There has been quite a development over the last couple of decades in using embeddings for neural models (Recent developments include contextualized word embeddings leading to cutting-edge models like BERT and GPT2).

Word2vec is a method to efficiently create word embeddings and has been around since 2013. But in addition to its utility as a word-embedding method, some of its concepts have been shown to be effective in creating recommendation engines and making sense of sequential data even in commercial, non-language tasks. Companies like AirbnbAlibabaSpotify, and Anghami have all benefitted from carving out this brilliant piece of machinery from the world of NLP and using it in production to empower a new breed of recommendation engines.

In this post, we’ll go over the concept of embedding, and the mechanics of generating embeddings with word2vec. But let’s start with an example to get familiar with using vectors to represent things. Did you know that a list of five numbers (a vector) can represent so much about your personality?


Anomaly detection on Amazon DynamoDB Streams using the Amazon SageMaker Random Cut Forest algorithm

Have you considered introducing anomaly detection technology to your business? Anomaly detection is a technique used to identify rare items, events, or observations which raise suspicion by differing significantly from the majority of the data you are analyzing.  The applications of anomaly detection are wide-ranging including the detection of abnormal purchases or cyber intrusions in banking, spotting a malignant tumor in an MRI scan, identifying fraudulent insurance claims, finding unusual machine behavior in manufacturing, and even detecting strange patterns in network traffic that could signal an intrusion.

There are many commercial products to do this, but you can easily implement an anomaly detection system by using Amazon SageMaker, AWS Glue, and AWS Lambda. Amazon SageMaker is a fully-managed platform to help you quickly build, train, and deploy machine learning models at any scale. AWS Glue is a fully-managed ETL service that makes it easy for you to prepare your data/model for analytics. AWS Lambda is a well-known a serverless real-time platform. Using these services, your model can be automatically updated with new data, and the new model can be used to alert for anomalies in real time with better accuracy.

In this blog post I’ll describe how you can use AWS Glue to prepare your data and train an anomaly detection model using Amazon SageMaker. For this exercise, I’ll store a sample of the NAB NYC Taxi data in Amazon DynamoDB to be streamed in real time using an AWS Lambda function.

The solution that I describe provides the following benefits:

  • You can make the best use of existing resources for anomaly detection. For example, if you have been using Amazon DynamoDB Streams for disaster recovery (DR) or other purposes, you can use the data in that stream for anomaly detection. In addition, stand-by storage usually has low utilization. The data in low awareness can be used for training data.
  • You can automatically retrain the model with new data on a regular basis with no user intervention.
  • You can make it easy to use the Random Cut Forest built-in Amazon SageMaker algorithm. Amazon SageMaker offers flexible distributed training options that adjust to your specific workflows in a secure and scalable environment.


190 universities just launched 600 free online courses. Here’s the full list

If you haven’t heard, universities around the world are offering their courses online for free (or at least partially free). These courses are collectively called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses.

In the past six years or so, over 800 universities have created more than 10,000 of these MOOCs. And I’ve been keeping track of these MOOCs the entire time over at Class Central, ever since they rose to prominence.

In the past four months alone, 190 universities have announced 600 such free online courses. I’ve compiled a list of them and categorized them according to the following subjects: Computer Science, Mathematics, Programming, Data Science, Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Teaching, Health & Medicine, Business, Personal Development, Engineering, Art & Design, and finally Science.

If you have trouble figuring out how to signup for Coursera courses for free, don’t worry — here’s an article on how to do that, too.

Many of these are completely self-paced, so you can start taking them at your convenience.