Quora’s VP Engineering Explains The Importance of Machine Learning

In the latest episode of #BiteSize, Xavier Amatriain, best known for his work on Machine Learning, explains what exactly is machine learning and why is it so important nowadays?

Xavier Amatriain

Xavier Amatriain is VP of engineering at Quora, where he leads the team building the best source of knowledge in the Internet. With over 50 publications in different fields, Xavier is best known for his work on machine learning in general and recommender systems in particular.

Before Quora, he was a research/engineering director at Netflix, where he led the team building the famous Netflix recommendation algorithms.

Previously, Xavier was also a research scientist at Telefonica Research and a research director at UCSB. He has lectured at different universities both in the US and Spain and is frequently invited as a speaker at conferences and companies.


Machine Learning is actually a subfield of artificial intelligence, that’s another buzzword I am sure lots of people have heard recently. Artificial intelligence is this idea of building machines or building systems which basically are able to think and have intelligence for themselves.

In this particular case, we try to build systems by feeding them data and allowing them to learn from data itself without having to directly encode some roots or some programming.

It’s basically this idea of having machines learn from seeing a lot of examples and a lot of data and then figuring out what that data means.

Why is it so important right now?

It’s because my mother thinks we have a lot of availability of data around us, from users, from systems, from the environment. And we figure out that there is a lot of interesting applications that we can make by basically having some systems that can apply intelligent decisions to that data that we gather every day.