Category: reading

Understanding Machine Learning (free e-book)

Understanding Machine Learning (free e-book)

Shai Shalev-Shwartz and Shai Ben-David of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem made their machine learning book free to download.

The book covers the basic foundations up to advanced theory and algorithms. I copied the table of contents below. It’s kind of math heavy, but well explained with visual examples and pseudo-code.

Moreover, the book contains multiple exercises for you to internalize the knowledge and skills.

As an added bonus, the professors teach a number of machine learning courses, the lecture slides and materials of which you can also access for free via the book’s website.

Machine learning is one of the fastest growing areas of computer science, with far-reaching applications. The aim of this textbook is to introduce machine learning, and the algorithmic paradigms it offers, in a principled way. The book provides a theoretical account of the fundamentals underlying machine learning and the mathematical derivations that transform these principles into practical algorithms. Following a presentation of the basics, the book covers a wide array of central topics unaddressed by previous textbooks. These include a discussion of the computational complexity of learning and the concepts of convexity and stability; important algorithmic paradigms including stochastic gradient descent, neural networks, and structured output learning; and emerging theoretical concepts such as the PAC-Bayes approach and compression-based bounds. Designed for advanced undergraduates or beginning graduates, the text makes the fundamentals and algorithms of machine learning accessible to students and non-expert readers in statistics, computer science, mathematics and engineering.

About the book

If you want to reward the professors for their efforts, please do buy a hardcopy version of book.

Table of contents

Part I: Foundations

  • A gentle start
  • A formal learning model
  • Learning via uniform convergence
  • The bias-complexity trade-off
  • The VC-dimension
  • Non-uniform learnability
  • The runtime of learning

Part II: From Theory to Algorithms

  • Linear predictors
  • Boosting
  • Model selection and validation
  • Convex learning problems
  • Regularization and stability
  • Stochastic gradient descent
  • Support vector machines
  • Kernel methods
  • Multiclass, ranking, and complex prediction problems
  • Decision trees
  • Nearest neighbor
  • Neural networks

Part III: Additional Learning Models

  • Online learning
  • Clustering
  • Dimensionality reduction
  • Generative models
  • Feature selection and generation

Part IV: Advanced Theory

  • Rademacher complexities
  • Covering numbers
  • Proof of the fundamental theorem of learning theory
  • Multiclass learnability
  • Compression bounds
  • PAC-Bayes


  • Technical lemmas
  • Measure concentration
  • Linear algebra
JavaScript for R — ebook

JavaScript for R — ebook

The R programming language has seen the integration of many languages; C, C++, Python, to name a few, can be seamlessly embedded into R so one can conveniently call code written in other languages from the R console. Little known to many, R works just as well with JavaScript—this book delves into the various ways both languages can work together.

John Coene is an well-known R and JavaScript developer. He recently wrote a book on JavaScript for R users, of which he published an online version free to access here.

The book is definitely worth your while if you want to better learn how to develop front-end applications (in JavaScript) on top of your statistical R programs. Think of better understanding, and building, yourself Shiny modules or advanced data visualizations integrated right into webpages.

A nice step on your development path towards becoming a full stack developer by combining R and JavaScript!

Yet most R developers are not familiar with one of web browsers’ core technology: JavaScript. This book aims to remedy that by revealing how much JavaScript can greatly enhance various stages of data science pipelines from the analysis to the communication of results.

Want to learn more about JavaScript in general, then I recommend this book:

Book: What we know about people in the workplace?

Book: What we know about people in the workplace?

My former colleague at Tilburg University, dr. Brigitte Kroon, summarizes decades of scientific evidence in the field of human resource mangement in her new bookEvidence-based HRM.

She published it open access, so everyone can access it for free.

Brigitte explains what science can (and can not) tell us about the most effective ways to organize and treat people in the workplace. She was able to nicely distill the practical insights from the theoretical frameworks and perspectives.

Read the rest yourself!

Human Resource Management is about managing the labor side of organizations. As labor resides in people, managing labor involves managing people. Because people can think and act in response to management, effective management of people involves a good understanding of psychology, sociology, laws, and economics. Any person in a managerial position should therefore have some basic understanding of human resource management. However, since not every organization is the same, and because the challenges that organizations face are different, there is no ‘one best practice suits all’ recipe for doing HRM. Hence, organizations need people who know where to find the best HRM interventions for the issues that they face.

Brigitte Kroon, Evidence-based HRM
Book tip: On the Clock

Book tip: On the Clock

Suppose you operate a warehouse where workers work 11-hour shifts. In order to meet your productivity KPIs, a significant number of them need to take painkillers multiple times per shift. Do you…

  1. Decrease or change the KPI (goals)
  2. Make shifts shorter
  3. Increase the number or duration of breaks
  4. Increase the medical staff
  5. Install vending machines to dispense painkillers more efficiently

Nobody in their right mind would take option 5… Right?

Yet, this is precisely what Amazon did according to Emily Guendelsberger in her insanely interesting and relevant book “On the clock(note the paradoxal link to Amazon’s webshop here).

Emily went undercover as employee at several organizations to experience blue collar jobs first-hand. In her book, she discusses how tech and data have changed low-wage jobs in ways that are simply dehumanizing.

These days, with sensors, timers, and smart nudging, employees are constantly being monitored and continue working (hard), sometimes at the cost of their own health and well-being.

I really enjoyed the book, despite the harsh picture it sketches of low wage jobs and malicious working conditions these days. The book poses several dilemma’s and asks multiple reflective questions that made me re-evaluate and re-appreciate my own job. Truly an interesting read!

Some quotes from the book to get you excited:

“As more and more skill is stripped out of a job, the cost of turnover falls; eventually, training an ever-churning influx of new unskilled workers becomes less expensive than incentivizing people to stay by improving the experience of work or paying more.”

Emily Guendelsberger, On the Clock

“Q: Your customer-service representatives handle roughly sixty calls in an eighty-hour shift, with a half-hour lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks. By the end of the day, a problematic number of them are so exhausted by these interactions that their ability to focus, read basic conversational cues, and maintain a peppy demeanor is negatively affected. Do you:

A. Increase staffing so you can scale back the number of calls each rep takes per shift — clearly, workers are at their cognitive limits

B. Allow workers to take a few minutes to decompress after difficult calls

C. Increase the number or duration of breaks

D. Decrease the number of objectives workers have for each call so they aren’t as mentally and emotionally taxing

E. Install a program that badgers workers with corrective pop-ups telling them that they sound tired.

Seriously—what kind of fucking sociopath goes with E?”

Emily Guendelsberger, On the Clock
My copy of the book
(click picture to order your own via affiliate link)

Cover via Freepik

Free Springer Books during COVID19

Free Springer Books during COVID19

Update: Unfortunately, Springer removed the free access to its books.

Book publisher Springer just released over 400 book titles that can be downloaded free of charge following the corona-virus outbreak.

Here’s the full overview:

Most of these books will normally set you back about $50 to $150, so this is a great deal!

There are many titles on computer science, programming, business, psychology, and here are some specific titles that might interest my readership:

Note that I only got to page 8 of 21, so there are many more free interesting titles out there!

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