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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A machine has figured out Rubik’s Cube all by itself | Intelligent Machines - MIT Technology Review

Unlike chess moves, changes to a Rubik’s Cube are hard to evaluate, which is why deep-learning machines haven’t been able to solve the puzzle on their own. Until now, as MIT Technology Review reports.

Photo: MIT Technology Review
by Emerging Technology from the arXiv June 15, 2018 

Yet another bastion of human skill and intelligence has fallen to the onslaught of the machines. A new kind of deep-learning machine has taught itself to solve a Rubik’s Cube without any human assistance.

The milestone is significant because the new approach tackles an important problem in computer science—how to solve complex problems when help is minimal.

First some background. The Rubik’s Cube is a three-dimensional puzzle developed in 1974 by the Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik, the object being to align all squares of the same color on the same face of the cube. It became an international best-selling toy and sold over 350 million units.

The puzzle has also attracted considerable interest from computer scientists and mathematicians. One question that has intrigued them is the smallest number of moves needed to solve it from any position. The answer, proved in 2014, turns out to be 26. 

Another common challenge is to design algorithms that can solve the cube from any position. Rubik himself, within a month of inventing the toy, came up with an algorithm that could do this.

But attempts to automated the process have all relied on algorithms that have been hand-crafted by humans.

More recently, computer scientists have tried to find ways for machines to solve the problem themselves. One idea is to use the same kind of approach that has been so successful with games like chess and Go.

In these scenarios, a deep-learning machine is given the rules of the game and then plays against itself. Crucially, it is rewarded at each step according to how it performs. This reward process is hugely important because it helps the machine to distinguish good play from bad play. In other words, it helps the machine learn...

Enter Stephen McAleer and colleagues from the University of California, Irvine. These guys have pioneered a new kind of deep-learning technique, called “autodidactic iteration,” that can teach itself to solve a Rubik’s Cube with no human assistance. The trick that McAleer and co have mastered is to find a way for the machine to create its own system of rewards.
Read more... 

Additional resources  
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1805.07470 : Solving the Rubik's Cube Without Human Knowledge
 
Source: MIT Technology Review


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5 math apps that boost skills over summer | Lifestyle - AOL

Daily math practice doesn't have to be -- and, in fact, shouldn't be -- drill-and-kill. 

Photo: AOL

Summer is a great opportunity to make learning more fun with apps that add a gaming element to key skills such as addition, subtraction, fractions, and more. These apps let kids avoid the "summer slide" in a fun -- and totally painless -- way.
Read more...

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Online Learning Consortium Launches 'OLC Outlook: An Environmental Scan of the Digital Learning Landscape' | Benzinga

New strategic planning resource for higher education professionals examines priorities, trends, innovations and other considerations for 20 core areas of digital learning; First report from the series covers Accessibility and publishes today.


The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the leading professional organization devoted to advancing the quality of digital learning worldwide, today introduced OLC Outlook: An Environmental Scan of the Digital Learning Landscape, a series of original reports from the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning & Leadership, designed to keep higher education professionals informed of the latest developments in the field of digital learning. 

Download the report

The OLC Outlook series will serve as a strategic planning resource, illuminating priorities, trends, innovations and other considerations that OLC uncovers through its daily research and analysis of the digital learning landscape and interactions with leaders and innovators in the field.

Digital learning professionals need to stay informed of the latest developments in the field in order to deliver successful learning experiences for the modern learner. Yet the pace of change and the sheer volume of available news and information make it challenging to maintain a comprehensive understanding of all the factors that can inform strategy and vision. Each OLC Outlook report offers a curated 360-degree view of a critical digital learning topic, providing access to helpful resources that can be used to inform strategic planning and solve strategic challenges...

The OLC Outlook series will cover 20 core areas of digital learning, with a new white paper publishing each month. Initial topics include: Accessibility (June); Instructional Design (July), Leadership (August), Business Models (September), Learning Sciences (October) and Workforce Development (November). All reports in the OLC Outlook series will be available in the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning & Leadership.
 
FIRST REPORT PUBLISHES TODAY - OLC OUTLOOK: ACCESSIBILITY
Accessibility is the subject of the first report in the OLC Outlook series. Click to download the report: OLC Outlook: Accessibility - An Environmental Scan of the Digital Learning Landscape.
Read more... 

ABOUT THE ONLINE LEARNING CONSORTIUM


The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. 
Visit http://onlinelearningconsortium.org for more information.

Source: Benzinga


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Technology Is Key for Boosting Classroom Equity | EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education

Integration of digital tools can help give students an equal playing field, according to a new report, reports Eli Zimmerman, budding journalist with experience reporting across various fields.  

Photo: CleoFilter/Getty Images

As the growth in personalized learning initiatives has emphasized, students will exhibit differing aptitudes for subjects depending on their strengths.

However, issues with classroom equity have left some students unable to perform, not because they are having trouble grasping the material but because of issues related to geography, race, gender, ethnicity, language or economics.

In response, America’s Promise Alliance, the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program and the Council of Chief State School Officers have issued a report to help school districts address these equity issues.

“We recognize the journey toward educational equity is a long and arduous one, but it is an important and necessary journey that will define the course of our nation,” the report’s authors conclude. “We all recognize we can do more, and these promising practices show we are on the right path to ensure a brighter future for our nation’s students.”

Innovations in technology may be the key in establishing an equal playing field for students struggling to catch up to their peers. 

Accessibility Through Online Learning Programs  
A prominent distinction among students is where they live, more specifically the difference between urban and rural homes. 

Those living farther away from their school district may not be able to access the same resources or may be more likely to miss days of school because of their living situations, with states like North Carolina and Maine seeing a significant rise in absenteeism in rural students.

Establishing an online network where students can access classroom materials and school resources can be a great way to boost equity. Some districts have already begun to create these types of networks.

The Utah Education Network, in collaboration with the Utah State Board of Education, has compiled a site housing research databases, lesson plans and platforms for distance learning, according to the report.
Read more...

Source: EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education


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Double incentives in HRM Asia's Digital Learning research | HRM Asia

Participate in the highly-anticipated Thriving in a World of Digital Learning study with one click from this story! 

Photo: HRM Asia
The world of learning is going digital - is your organisation keeping up?

Are you at the front edge of the transformation in learning and development, driven by technology? Or are you about to fall behind?

Here is your opportunity to find out!

You can get ready for your own digital transformation by participating in HRM Asia's eight-minute Thriving in a World of Digital Learning Survey.

Who should participate?
If your organisation employs more than 100 people in Singapore, and you are in senior leadership, HR, or the learning and development function specifically, your organisation will benefit from participating in this survey.
Read more... 

Related link   
HRM Asia’s digital learning research now underway

Source: HRM Asia


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Monday, June 18, 2018

In her short life, mathematician Emmy Noether changed the face of physics | Physics - Science News

Photo: Emily Conover
"Noether linked two important concepts in physics: conservation laws and symmetries" argues Emily Conover, Physics Writer.

THE BEAUTY OF SYMMETRY  Emmy Noether had a lasting impact on her colleagues and students, and on the fields of mathematics and physics.

On a warm summer evening, a visitor to 1920s Göttingen, Germany, might have heard the hubbub of a party from an apartment on Friedländer Way. A glimpse through the window would reveal a gathering of scholars. The wine would be flowing and the air buzzing with conversations centered on mathematical problems of the day. The eavesdropper might eventually pick up a woman’s laugh cutting through the din: the hostess, Emmy Noether, a creative genius of mathematics.

At a time when women were considered intellectually inferior to men, Noether (pronounced NUR-ter) won the admiration of her male colleagues. She resolved a nagging puzzle in Albert Einstein’s newfound theory of gravity, the general theory of relativity. And in the process, she proved a revolutionary mathematical theorem that changed the way physicists study the universe.

It’s been a century since the July 23, 1918, unveiling of Noether’s famous theorem. Yet its importance persists today. “That theorem has been a guiding star to 20th and 21st century physics,” says theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek of MIT.

Noether was a leading mathematician of her day. In addition to her theorem, now simply called “Noether’s theorem,” she kick-started an entire discipline of mathematics called abstract algebra.

But in her career, Noether couldn’t catch a break. She labored unpaid for years after earning her Ph.D. Although she started working at the University of Göttingen in 1915, she was at first permitted to lecture only as an “assistant” under a male colleague’s name. She didn’t receive a salary until 1923. Ten years later, Noether was forced out of the job by the Nazi-led government: She was Jewish and was suspected of holding leftist political beliefs. Noether’s joyful mathematical soirees were extinguished.

She left for the United States to work at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Less than two years later, she died of complications from surgery — before the importance of her theorem was fully recognized. She was 53.

Although most people have never heard of Noether, physicists sing her theorem’s praises. The theorem is “pervasive in everything we do,” says theoretical physicist Ruth Gregory of Durham University in England. Gregory, who has lectured on the importance of Noether’s work, studies gravity, a field in which Noether’s legacy looms large.

Making connections 
Noether divined a link between two important concepts in physics: conservation laws and symmetries. A conservation law — conservation of energy, for example — states that a particular quantity must remain constant. No matter how hard we try, energy can’t be created or destroyed. The certainty of energy conservation helps physicists solve many problems, from calculating the speed of a ball rolling down a hill to understanding the processes of nuclear fusion.

Symmetries describe changes that can be made without altering how an object looks or acts. A sphere is perfectly symmetric: Rotate it any direction and it appears the same. Likewise, symmetries pervade the laws of physics: Equations don’t change in different places in time or space.
Read more... 

Recommended Reading  
 
Weird Math: A Teenage Genius and His
Teacher Reveal the Strange Connections
Between Math and Everyday Life

‘Weird Math’ aims to connect numbers and equations to the real world by Diana Steele, Freelance Science Writer, Science News.
"A new book tackles the mysteries of chaos theory, higher dimensions and more."

Source: Science News


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Digital and science engineering to be taught at new college | GOV.UK

New University Technical College to create 750 new school places in Doncaster to meet local demand for world-class engineering and design skills, as GOV.UK reports.

Photo: GOV.UK
Hundreds of students will be trained to become experts in engineering and digital technology to help deliver the skilled workers local businesses need at a state-of-the art new college in Doncaster announced today (Monday 18 June).

Doncaster University Technical College will train up to 750 13 to 19-year-olds in the latest rail engineering techniques, as well as coding and 3-D design skills when it opens its doors in September 2020, helping to meet the needs of the local economy.

Plans for the college have been led by the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, working with both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University alongside leading businesses from across South Yorkshire, including Volker Rail and Keepmoat.

Today’s announcement is part of a wider government drive to deliver a world-class technical education system that rivals the best performing countries, giving young people genuine choice about their future and developing the skills that are truly valued by employers.

This announcement follows the recent unveiling of the first providers selected to teach new T Levels from 2020 by Education Secretary Damian Hinds. T levels will provide a high-quality, technical alternative to A levels and is part of a £500 million a year programme to ensure people across the country have the skills we need to compete globally.
Read more...

Source: GOV.UK


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SUTD Academy offers cybersecurity course for adult learners | The Straits Times

"Adult learners wanting to get a leg up in the burgeoning cybersecurity sector are being offered a new course launched by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Academy on Monday" (June 18) inform Jasia Shamdasani, Straits Times Journalist.
 

The Modular Masters (MM) programme in cybersecurity consists of skills-based modular courses that take between one and four days, each of which carries credits which can be accumulated for an MM certificate.
Photo: Lianhe Zaobao file.


The ModularMasters (MM) programme in cybersecurity consists of skills-based modular courses  that take between one and four days, each of which carries credits which can be accumulated for an MM certificate.
Students who gain this certificate can then choose to take up the SUTD's existing Master of Science in Security by Design degree, and use the certificate to offset subject credits in the degree course.

"SUTD Academy wanted to provide more flexible options and opportunities for working individuals and adults to upskill or reskill themselves," said Professor Pey Kin Leong, SUTD's associate provost of education at SUTD Academy and Digital Learning...

Other new MM programmes in the pipeline at the SUTD include data analytics, artificial intelligence and design innovations.
Read more... 

Source: The Straits Times


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Summer Reading: Strategies to boost online learning programs | Higher Ed - Education Dive

Jean Dimeo, Managing Editor notes, "This summer, Education Dive is providing readers with compilations of stories on a variety of topics that we've published during the past year that provide solutions to challenges facing colleges and universities nationwide."
Next up — online learning.

Photo: Education Dive

Colleges should consider integrating bootcamps, not view them as threats
Rather than be threatened by bootcamp models, colleges should learn from them and integrate them into their core to better prepare their graduates for a wide variety of jobs, according to Matthew Rascoff, associate vice provost for digital education and innovation at Duke University. He argues that institutions should view bootcamps as programs to even better prepare students for the job market. Read more


Study: Online learning improves retention, graduation rates A study from Arizona State University suggests that online courses may be better equipped to help retain students and to keep them on the path to graduation.The university examined digital learning trends and outcomes from two public universities, two community colleges and a community college system. It found that three out of four institutions that offered in-person and online courses had higher retention and graduation rates for students who at least enrolled in some digital learning classes. Read more

Personalized learning is for online courses, too
eCornell CEO Paul Krause said his organization, which provides much of Cornell Univerity's online infrastructure and marketing, has laid out a model for massive open online course (MOOCs) providers to look to as an example for monetization. Personalization is important; even in an online or blended space, he said, offering relevant, engaging experiences is the best way to get the desired outcomes for the average students. Read more


How to effectively scale a digital learning model Several online leaders, during the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's annual conference​, noted four conclusions of an extensive research project on online learning: Take a strategic portfolio approach to digital learning; build capabilities and expertise to design for quality in the digital realm; provide the differential student support to succeed in fully online learning; and engage faculty as true partners, equipping them for success. Read more
Read more... 

Recommended Reading  

Photo: Education Dive
Despite overall setbacks, one MOOC on AI gains ground by James Paterson.
"A massive open online course series about artificial intelligence produced by a private firm boasts 250,000 registrants."

Source: Education Dive


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How to ‘sharpen the saw’ in a digital era? | People Matters

Photo: Parag Mehra
Here are a few helpful tips to navigate learning in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business world, according to Parag Mehra, Sr. Director – Learning & Development working with an American Multi-National Corporation.

Photo: People Matters

A story of two workers cutting wood while working at the same place is one that most of us are familiar with. The words ‘same place’ is a reference to an economics axiom ‘other things are being equal’ meaning same working hours and conditions. Yet, one produces better results compared to the other. 

What is the cause of this difference in performance? 
If you don’t know the answer already, it is – the ability to sharpen the saw! 

Today, ‘Sharpening the Saw’ is more relevant than ever before. While many of us can put into practice what we have seen and done in the past and apply solutions that have worked for us before, we are stuck to the past. Our learning architecture involves learning based on our enterprise experience, intelligence on market practices, leadership & skill attributes, academic wisdom & past experiences. 

However, businesses today operate in a VUCA environment, and technology integrated solutions have become a new normal along with demographic shift with the influx of millennial population in the workforce. This creates a compelling need to change; a change in the existing learning architecture and engaging in new & innovative methods of learning to meet the ever-expanding demands of the evolving workplace. Our learning patterns need to evolve and enable us to acquire niche skills in multiple areas to remain relevant.

There is a need to invest in sharpening our saw with an enhanced variation. This means leveraging the power of ‘digital’ to multiplying the impact and to produce transformational results. Our traditional patterns of learning need to change significantly. Just as the tree cutting axe has changed over the years (nowadays there are over 30+ variation of axes for cutting specific trees), there’s a need to being in enhanced variation in our own development. Here are a few attributes that will help you in the process:
Read more...

Source: People Matters


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