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Which university is best for machine learning: UWashington, UT Austin, Columbia


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Hi everyone.

Firstly I'd like to thank the community. Last year, I applied and got admission from good programs in a different area. My research interests changed very late, and people here encouraged me to drop a year. I owe a good deal of my success to the suggestions received from Gradcafe. :D

My research interests are in optimization algorithms for machine learning. I have been admitted to the EE PhD programs at UW, UT, and Columbia. UW and Columbia have assured me that I can work with any adviser (who accept me) irrespective of department boundaries. In UT, they don't have fellowships for internationals, so I am tied to the professor (at least initially) who gives me funding.

At UW, my top choice PIs have joint appointments in EE and CSE, so I am very safe. In Columbia, only John Paisley has formal appointment with EE, but they have very good researchers in CS - taking classes and working with them would be great. UT have two ML profs in EE (Sanghavi, Caramanis), but my main PIs are in CS (Dhillon, Ravikumar). I am also looking forward to taking lots of courses in ML due to my non-traditional background (I have zero knowledge of vision or NLP for example). It would be great if someone can compare these universities in terms of course offerings. Since I am mostly allowed to work with anyone, can you compare the strengths and weaknesses of ML clusters in these places.

I am slightly leaning towards UW, but have a few hesitations. UW EE is not ranked very high (but UW is ranked highly in ML). Based on interactions with grad students, I gather that ML students from UW, irrespective of home department (CS, EE, or Stats), find great internships and jobs - particularly at Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. However, UW EE doesn't have a good track record for placing faculty (which I aspire to become, at the moment). UT on the other hand seems to be doing well with faculty and post-doc placements. Recent UT EE grads became profs at Cornell and TTIC. I am likely to remove Columbia from the race since they don't win on both the above metrics. Also, Seattle and Austin have a much better climate than NYC.

Please share your thoughts and comments. Looking forward to them :) 

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  • Warelin changed the title to Which university is best for machine learning: UWashington, UT Austin, Columbia

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