Nicholas Hoff

I am the founder of visX and a machine learning freelancer.

visX

At visX, we are building a visual programming language intended to be used as a graphical frontned to the Wolfram Language. You can write your code either as text or as a diagram, and you can mix the two. Your code (either blocks or text), builtin modules, external data, and results all show up as blocks which can be connected with links however you choose, and viewed at any level of detail by zooming with the mouse wheel. When you run your code, the results are spliced back into the diagram. It will soon enter closed beta.

ML freelancing

I did my PhD in distributed AI and now I do similar work for clients, mostly in data analysis and model training. For Société Générale, for example, I've built a fraud detector, an invoice classifier, and a system to predict asset depreciation. Usually clients bring me a lot of data and we have a conversation about what they could do with it, then I train a machine learning model to fit the business case. It's not just banking though - I worked with an indoor-farming startup to analyze the environmental conditions in their farm and optimze the growth plan, all the way from the soil pH to the overall business strategy.

My current side project is in the area of AI music generation. I want to build a system that can train on lots of unlabeled music, automatically distinguish high-level attributes such as mood and intensity as well as key and instrumentation, then generate new samples. I'm reading about GANs and normalizing flows.

Education

My PhD focused on biologically-inspired swarm AI. I studied at Harvard with Professors Radhika Nagpal and Robert Wood.

Before coming to Harvard, I studied Aerospace Engineering and Physics at MIT, earning a Bachelor's degree in each. For my Master's degree, I built and programmed a swarm of small satellites called SPHERES which we then flew on the ISS.

Flying

Since I was a young child I have had a fascination with flight.

I earned my private pilot's license when I was 16, and I try to get in the air as much as possible, although with the demands of work (and my wallet), I don't always get to go as much as I'd like. I mostly fly Cessna 172s and Piper Cherokees.

This picture is from an approach to Provincetown on a beautiful day last spring a few years ago. (We stayed over the water until the final approach so that the noise of the engine didn't disturb the residents.)

Music

I play guitar and sing (occasionally at the same time). In the past, I have sung with choirs at MIT and Harvard and around Boston and Berlin. Occasionally, my friends and I also form quartets or other small groups to sing interesting music we find. Playing the guitar is more for sitting on the couch and relaxing.

Contact

You can write to me at nhoff@alum.mit.edu, or tweet to me here.

Reading List

Some of the more interesting books I've read:

Non-fiction

Fiction

Podcasts