UJ Institute for the Future of Knowledge

Data Science Across Disciplines
Data Science Across Disciplines
Monday 26 April 2021

Webinar: Neural Differential Equations, Control and Machine Learning

Webinar: Neural Differential Equations, Control and Machine Learning
The webinar focused on neural ordinary differential equations (NODEs) from a control theoretical perspective to address some of the main challenges in machine learning and, in particular, data classification and universal approximation. More precisely, the speaker adopted the perspective of the simultaneous control of systems of NODEs and presented a genuinely nonlinear and constructive method that allowed an estimation of the complexity of the control strategies. The very nonlinear nature of the activation functions governing the nonlinear dynamics of NODEs under consideration played a key role. It allowed deforming half of the phase space while the other half remains invariant, a property that classical models in mechanics do not fulfil. This same property allowed building elementary controls inducing specific dynamics and transformations whose concatenation, along with properly chosen hyperplanes, allowed achieving our goals in finitely many steps. The lecture also focused on the counterparts in the control of neural transport equations, establishing a link between optimal transport and deep neural networks. The lecture is based on work done by the speaker, Professor Enrique Zuazua, and Mr. Domènec Ruiz-Balet. The speaker was Professor Enrique Zuazua who holds a Chair in Applied Analysis – Alexander von Humboldt Professorship at the Friedrich–Alexander University, in Germany.


Professor Charis Harley
Director, DSAD


12:30 -




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Upcoming Events

Ethics and Explainability for Responsible Data Science (EE-RDS) (2021)
Data Science Across Disciplines
Wednesday 27 October 2021

Ethics and Explainability for Responsible Data Science (EE-RDS) (2021)

Is Data Science a new approach to solving problems, one that applies across disciplines as various as physics, sociology and linguistics? Or are machine learning, deep convoluted neural nets, and other exciting phrases just statistics on steroids? As a launching event of the Data Science Across Disciplines Research Group at the University of Johannesburg, this conference brings together reflections on both the actual and potential impact of data science across disciplines and sectors. Keynote speakers include Yoshua Bengio (Department of Computer Science and Operational Research, Université de Montréal, IVADO, CIFAR, Scientific Director - Mila), Geralyn Miller (Sr. Director of the AI for Good Research Lab at Microsoft), and Mark Parsons (Editor in Chief, Data Science Journal, University of Alabama).

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2nd Annual PG Workshop: Remaking the World through Machine Learning
Data Science Across Disciplines
Monday 6 December 2021

2nd Annual PG Workshop: Remaking the World through Machine Learning

Hosted by the Data Science Across Disciplines (DSAD) Research Group based at the University of Johannesburg’s Institute for the Future of Knowledge, the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg.

This is the 2nd workshop of an annual Postgraduate Workshop Series brought to you by academics and industry professionals from across multiple research fields, institutions, and sectors.

The theme of the workshop is the impact that Machine Learning tools, technologies, and algorithms, can have on the various social, economic, and technical hurdles we face daily. The fields of Data Science and Machine Learning allow us to apply a cross-disciplinary and complex lens to the multi-layered challenges of the 21st century. This event aims to educate postgraduate students with this in mind, so that they may not only envision, but also create, a more remarkable world.

The event will be both physical and virtual, with all talks presented in the morning streamed live for a larger audience, and afternoon practical sessions for postgraduate students hosted in the venue. Please Note: There is a limit on the number of persons that may attend the physical event, and preference will be given to PG students and speakers.
Virtual Book Launch: Africa’s Soft Power: Philosophies, Political Values, Foreign Policies and Cultural Exports
The Future of Diplomacy
Friday 13 August 2021

Virtual Book Launch: Africa's Soft Power: Philosophies, Political Values, Foreign Policies and Cultural Exports

Book Description: This book investigates the ways in which soft power is used by African countries to help drive global influence. Selecting four of the countries most associated with soft power across the continent, this book delves into the currencies of soft power across the region: from South Africa’s progressive constitution and expanding multinational corporations, to Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry and Technical Aid Corps (TAC) scheme, Kenya’s sport diplomacy, fashion and tourism industries, and finally Egypt’s Pan-Arabism and its reputation as the cradle of civilisation. The book asks how soft power is wielded by these countries and what constraints and contradictions they encounter. Understandings of soft power have typically been driven by Western scholars, but throughout this book, Oluwaseun Tella aims to Africanise our understanding of soft power, drawing on prominent African philosophies, including Nigeria’s Omolúwàbí, South Africa’s Ubuntu, Kenya’s Harambee, and Egypt’s Pharaonism.
The Future of Health
Wednesday 13 May 2020

Webinar: Reimagining the world after COVID-19

Historians distinguish two ends to a pandemic: the biological end, consisting in the eradication or control of the disease, and the social end, when people stop fearing the disease and society resumes its normal shape. The “Post-COVID World” may never come from a biological perspective, and some are also saying that it may never come from a social perspective either – that the world will never be the same again. Whatever the case, it is clear that the pandemic that took us by surprise was in fact highly predictable, and indeed predicted by the World Health Organisation, the former President of the United States, and many others. It is, moreover, anything but unprecedented. Sometimes, we cannot predict; but other times, we can, but don’t. Whatever the Post-COVID World is like, our first lesson must be to think more carefully and openly about the future – starting with the Post-COVID World itself. The event was chaired by Professor Alexander Broadbent. The speakers at this event were: Dr. Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi; Professor Johan Giesecke, an infectious disease epidemiologist, and the scientist masterminding the Swedish response; and Professor Sehaam Khan, a microbiologist and Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Johannesburg.
The Future of Diplomacy
Wednesday 20 May 2020

Webinar: Covid-19 and the Emerging World Order

The recent outbreak of Covid-19 and the global powers’ actions and inactions ignited debates on the post-Covid-19 world order. While the current world order was already at a crossroads prior to the emergence of the pandemic partly due to the United States’ (US) retreat from international affairs, “America First” posture, and the rise of the rest (China in particular); US slow response during this global crisis has presented an opportunity for China to fill the leadership gap in the fight against the pandemic. This begs critical questions: Has the pandemic changed the world order? Has the US global influence further declined? How has Covid-19 changed China’s global position? In light of the pandemic, what is the future of globalisation? What is the role of the United Nations (UN) in the emerging global order? Will post-Covid-19 mark post-America world? Will African regional powers such as South Africa and Nigeria play a significant role in post-Covid-19 world order? This webinar was kicked off by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg. Professor Alexander Broadbent chaired, and the speakers were: Our first speaker, Dr David Masondo, the Deputy Finance Minister for South Africa; Dr Grant Harris, the Chief Executive Officer at Harris Africa Partners LLC, Adjunct Professor of Global Management at Kellogg School of Management, Lecturer at University of California Berkeley, in the US; Professor Dong Wang, the Executive Director of the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding, Peking University, China, and Dr Oluwaseun Tella, a Senior Researcher at the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg.
The Future of Health
Wednesday 27 May 2020

Webinar: Data and Delusion after COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a pandemic of data. Data is offered, analysed, re-packaged and criticised by mighty international organisations and by tiny local outfits. Even private individuals with no prior expertise or interest in data, disease, or statistics spend hours poring over graphs and critiquing case fatality estimates. This proliferation of data and analysis has not yielded effective predictions. Instead, it has demonstrated how ill-equipped we are to deal with this new, non-hierarchical, distributed information context. Leading scientists have proved dramatically wrong. Or perhaps not – it depends who you ask. The unfolding pattern of spread still surprises us at every turn – except those who predicted it all along. Nothing is more common than the common cold, and coronavirus variants are one of its causes: yet we seem unable make reliable predictions about COVID-19. This webinar will explore a range of issues relating to data and trust in science in the aftermath of COVID-19. What went wrong with the modelling approach to prediction – if, indeed, anything did go wrong? How should policy and scientific research interact, and how should policy makers make use of data? Can people without domain-specific knowledge use data to predict better than the experts in that domain? If not, then can data analysts themselves make predictions merely by studying patterns in data? Turning to the generation of data, how does the individual interest in privacy weight against the public interest in private information, notably location, which can be very useful in the context of a pandemic? The event was chaired by Professor Alexander Broadbent, Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge, and the panel of experts included: Dr Shakir Mohamed, a Senior Researcher at DeepMind in London, United Kingdom (UK); Professor Charis Harley, an academic based in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Johannesburg. and Professor Olaf Dammann, the Vice-Chair of Public Health at Tufts University in Boston, US, Professor of Perinatal Neuroepidemiology at Hannover Medical School, Germany, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.

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