Anima Anandkumar, the machine learning guru behind AWS bids adieu to AWS

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Anima Anandkumar has now bid adieu to AWS after working as the principal scientist at Amazon Web Services (AWS). She joined AWS in November 2016, as Principal Scientist on Deep Learning. She is best known for her work in the development and analysis of tensor algorithms and in the design, development, and launch of Amazon SageMaker. Anima has earned several prestigious awards, including the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, and Young Investigator Research award.

After her successful 2 year stint in Amazon AWS, she has left her current post and written a heartwarming post on her personal blog. In her own words, “I want to recollect the rich learning experiences I had and the amazing things we accomplished over the last two years.

Amazon was Anima’s first industry job out of academia. She saw huge potential to democratize AI and hence chose AWS, it is the most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. During her tenure at Amazon she worked on the latest GPU instances, Deeplens,  and on computer vision, natural language processing, speech recognition and other technologies.

Her most important contribution, however, remains, Amazon SageMaker. Its broad adoption led to AWS increasing its ML user base by more than 250 percent over the last year. Anima says, “It was personally fulfilling to build topic modeling on SageMaker (and AWS comprehend) based on my academic research, which uses tensor decompositions. SageMaker topic-modeling automatically categorizes documents at scale and is several times faster than any other (open-source) framework. Taking the tensor algorithm from its theoretical roots to an AWS production service was a big highlight for me.”


As a part of applied research at AWS, she has worked on deep active learning, crowdsourcing and semi-supervised learning methods in a number of domains.

She contributed to Amazon community outreach by building partnerships with universities and non-profit organizations to democratize AI.  She also represented AWS at many prominent avenues, including Deep Learning Indaba 2017, the first pan-African deep learning summit, Mulan forum for Chinese women entrepreneurs, Geekpark forum for startups in China and Shaastra 2018 at IIT Madras in India.

Anima has always been a supporter of women in tech. When Anima went to IIT Madras, she realized the fewer number of women around her (the female to male ratio at IIT Madras was 1:20 then). “Even though I missed having more women in IIT, the women who got in there were remarkable since they overcame other barriers and still performed well; it gave a lot of confidence. Though I do wish there were more women and I’m always looking how to improve the diversity, it should be towards helping women overcome barriers (without compromising on performance/quality).

Her contributions make us realize the fact that women in tech are an important facet even though they are in smaller numbers.

Read Anima’s adieu blog for a trip down her memory lane at AWS Cloud.

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