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Interview with Neural Networks with JavaScript Succinctly Author James McCaffrey

The following is a short interview with Succinctly series author James McCaffrey, whose new book, Neural Networks with JavaScript Succinctly, was published recently. You can download this book from our ebook portal.

1. What should people know about the subject of your book? Why is it important?

Machine learning is revolutionizing software development. But web development has been relatively slow to embrace machine learning. Neural Networks with JavaScript Succinctly aims to provide software developers who have experience with JavaScript a path to acquire machine learning skills using a language and environment they’re comfortable with.

2. When did you first become interested in this subject?

I have been fascinated by machine learning and neural networks ever since I was in school. For one of my school projects, I created a machine learning system that predicts the results of NFL football games. Then, when I worked at Microsoft on Internet Explorer version 1 in the 1990s, I learned to like the then-new JavaScript language. Neural Networks with JavaScript Succinctly combines these two topics.

3. By writing this e-book, did you learn anything new yourself?

Every author learns a lot when writing a book. Having to articulate a concept carefully but concisely forces an author to mentally examine every detail of a topic. For me, I learned about several new OOP features of JavaScript ECMA 2015, such as the new class syntax, which greatly enhance the ability to implement machine learning code.

4. How will this subject change over the next few years?

Currently, in a web scenario, almost all machine learning processing is done on the server side, often with compiled languages such as Java or C#. As web developers acquire machine learning skills, I expect that more machine learning processing will be done on the client side, using JavaScript. In particular, I think we’ll see a lot of sophisticated client-side natural language processing, such as sentiment analysis.

5. Do you see the subject as part of a larger trend in software development?

Clearly, machine learning is fundamentally changing software development. Tasks that were impossible from a practical point of view just a few years ago—for example, speech recognition and image recognition—have been conquered by machine learning and are now becoming almost commonplace.

6. What other books or resources on this topic do you recommend?

I’m often asked for a recommendation for learning about neural networks and machine learning. Because the field is changing so quickly, and because every developer comes into machine learning with a wildly different background, there is no single good place to start. That said, for developers who have a strong math background, a series of online videos by researcher Andrew Ng (you can find them with an internet search) are excellent. For developers who have good programming skills, Microsoft MSDN Magazine publishes excellent articles that are available online. And Syncfusion’s Keras Succinctly is an excellent way to get up to speed with neural networks using the most popular Python code library.

7. How do you stay up-to-date on industry news?

Staying up-to-date in machine learning and neural networks is a big challenge. There are significant new algorithms, techniques, and additions to code libraries every few months. My usual way of learning about new developments is by doing internet searches, which tend to lead me to personal blog sites. This is an inefficient approach, but mainstream news and information channels just can’t cope with the crazy-fast pace of change.

8. Do you have a blog page or a website where people can find you?

My personal blog, where I write about machine learning and other technologies, is at

If you liked this post, we think you’ll also like:

[ebook] Introduction to CNTK Succinctly

[ebook] Natural Language Processing Succinctly

[ebook] Node.js Succinctly


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