Note that for any of these projects you should have code samples as part of your application, ideally as patches to one of the ML or GPU libraries or in the form of working ML models.

Model Zoo Examples

Flux’s model zoo contains examples of a wide range of deep learning models and techniques. This project would involve adding new models, showing how to recreate state-of-the-art results (e.g. AlphaGo) or interesting and unusual model architectures (e.g. transformer networks). We’d be particularly interested in any models involving reinforcement learning, or anything with images, sound or speech.

Some experience with implementing deep learning models would be ideal for this project, but is not essential for a student willing to pick up the skills and read ML papers. It’s up to you whether you implement a single ambitious model, or multiple small ones. A good source of inspiration might be the NIPS Challenge.

Mentors: Mike Innes

Flux.JS demos

Flux.JS enables export of Flux models to the browser. However, just porting a numerical function to JavaScript is rarely exciting on its own; you need to build an interface to give input to the model (say, via a webcam) and see output (say, by displaying an annotated image) in order to see what the model is thinking.

This project would involve creating new demos that show interesting models running in the browser. Examples could include:

The possibilities are pretty much endless here. This project will require a pretty solid handle on web technologies, and we’d expect much of the components created to be reusable between demos.

Mentors: Mike Innes, Shashi Gowda.

Model Import and Export

Sharing models with other frameworks would enables us to both export models (say to JavaScript for the browser, or TensorFlow Lite for mobile, or NNVM for optimised training) and to take advantage of the large set of trained models in the wild in Julia code.

This involves several stages, some or all of which could be tackled over the course of a project.

Mentors: Mike Innes


A benchmark suite would help us to keep Julia’s performance for ML models in shape, as well as revealing opportunities for improvement. Like the model-zoo project, this would involve contributing standard models that exercise common ML use case (images, text etc) and profiles them. The project could extend to include improving performance where possible, or creating a “benchmarking CI” like Julia’s own nanosoldier.

Mentors: Mike Innes

Compiler Optimisations

Julia opens up many interesting opportunities for applying new optimisations to ML models, and exploring language design for ML. As part of this project you’d help us apply novel optimisation strategies to Julia code, with immediate benefits to Flux and other Julia users.

Possible projects could include:

Mentors: Mike Innes

Sparse GPU and ML support

While Julia supports dense GPU arrays well via CuArrays, we lack up-to-date wrappers for sparse operations. This project would involve wrapping CUDA’s sparse support, with CUSPARSE.jl as a starting point, adding them to CuArrays.jl, and perhaps demonstrating their use via a sparse machine learning model.

Mentors: Mike Innes

Parquet.jl enhancements

Efficient storage of tabular data is an important component of the data analysis story in the ecosystem. Julia has many options here – JLD, JuliaDB’s built-in serialization, CSV.write. These either suffer from lack of performance or lack of standardization. Parquet is a format for efficient storage of tabular data used in the Hadoop world. It has compression techniques which reduce disk usage as well as speed up reads. A well-rounded Parquet implementation in Julia will solve the current issues with storage formats and let Julia interoperate with software from the Hadoop world.

Parquet.jl currently contains a reader for Parquet files. This project involves implementing the writer for Parquet files, as well as some enhancements to the reading functionality.


Reader enhancements:

Read a file as a NamedTuple of vectors (using NamedTuples.jl on Julia 0.6). This is on similar lines, but different from the current cursor-based reader. Probably as an implementation of AbstractBuilder that returns NamedTuple of column vectors, combined with a new iterator/cursor that returns a bunch of records instead of individual records.

Writer support:

Mentors: Tanmay Mohapatra

GPU support in JuliaDB

JuliaDB is a distributed analytical database. It uses Julia’s multi-processing for parallelism at the moment. GPU implementations of some operations may allow relational algebra with low latency. In this project, you will be required to add basic GPU support in JuliaDB.

Mentors: Shashi Gowda, Mike Innes

Accelerating optimization via machine learning with surrogate models

In many cases, when attempting to optimize a function f(p) each calculation of f is very expensive. For example, evaluating f may require solving a PDE or other applications of complex linear algebra. Thus, instead of always directly evaluating f, one can develop a surrogate model g which is approximately f by training on previous data collected from f evaluations. This technique of using a trained surrogate in place of the real function is called surrogate optimization and mixes techniques from machine learning to accelerate optimization.

Advanced techniques utilize radial basis functions and Gaussian processes in order to interpolate to new parameters to estimate f in areas which have not been sampled. Adaptive training techniques explore how to pick new areas to evaluate f to better hone in on global optima. The purpose of this project is to explore these techniques and build a package which performs surrogate optimizations.

Recommended Skills: Background knowledge of standard machine learning, statistical, or optimization techniques. Strong knowledge of numerical analysis is helpful but not required.

Expected Results: Library functions for performing surrogate optimization with tests on differential equation models.

Mentors: Chris Rackauckas

Parameter estimation for nonlinear dynamical models

Machine learning has become a popular tool for understanding data, but scientists typically understand the world through the lens of physical laws and their resulting dynamical models. These models are generally differential equations given by physical first principles, where the constants in the equations such as chemical reaction rates and planetary masses determine the overall dynamics. The inverse problem to simulation, known as parameter estimation, is the process of utilizing data to determine these model parameters.

The purpose of this project is to utilize the growing array of statistical, optimization, and machine learning tools in the Julia ecosystem to build library functions that make it easy for scientists to perform this parameter estimation with the most high-powered and robust methodologies. Possible projects include improving methods for Bayesian estimation of parameters via Stan.jl and Julia-based libraries like Turing.jl, or global optimization-based approaches. Novel techniques like classifying model outcomes via support vector machines and deep neural networks is can also be considered. Research and benchmarking to attempt to find the most robust methods will take place in this project. Additionally, the implementation of methods for estimating structure, such as topological sensitivity analysis along with performance enhancements to existing methods will be considered.

Some work in this area can be found in DiffEqParamEstim.jl and DiffEqBayes.jl. Examples can be found in the DifferentialEquations.jl documentation.

Recommended Skills: Background knowledge of standard machine learning, statistical, or optimization techniques. It’s recommended but not required that one has basic knowledge of differential equations and DifferentialEquations.jl. Using the differential equation solver to get outputs from parameters can be learned on the job, but you should already be familiar (but not necessarily an expert) with the estimation techniques you are looking to employ.

Expected Results: Library functions for performing parameter estimation and inferring properties of differential equation solutions from parameters. Notebooks containing benchmarks determining the effectiveness of various methods and classifying when specific approaches are appropriate will be developed simultaneously.

Mentors: Chris Rackauckas

Artificial Intelligence Library Package based on Artificial Intelligence - A Modern Approach (AIMA)

AIMA is a seminal text on representation of agents to solve AI problems. Most packages available today as AI libraries tend to focus on ML only and not the architectural aspect of AI. The scope of the project is to create a library with a clean API (following AIMA) to easily allow the application of core algorithms to AI problems. The student will implement a package that brings together implementations of algorithms like depth-first search and simulated annealing, both from other Julia packages and from sample code in the AIMA book, and build sample programs to demonstrate AI applications. Starter code can be found at [AIMACore] ( along with [AIMASamples] (

Recommended Skills: Previous experience with AI or the ability to quickly pick up on the AI algorithms in AIMA

Expected Results: A well-documented library of functions derived from the AIMA book.

Mentors Sambit Kumar Dash.

A SQL backend for Query.jl

Query.jl is designed to work with multiple backends. This project would add a SQL backend, so that queries that are formulated with the query commands in Query.jl get translated into an equivalent SQL query that can be run within a SQL database engine. Both LINQ and dplyr support a similar feature set, and this project would enable the same scenario for julia. There is also a small academic literature on this topic that we need to understand and incorporate.

Recommended Skills: Very strong database and SQL skills, previous experience with compilers (this project is essentially a compiler that translates a query AST into SQL) and a strong familiarity with the julia data stack.

Expected Results: A new version of Query.jl that runs queries as SQL in a database.

Mentors: David Anthoff

Tabular file IO

The Queryverse has a large number of file IO packages: CSVFiles.jl, ExcelFiles.jl, FeatherFiles.jl, StatFiles.jl, ParquetFiles and FstFiles.jl. This project will a) do serious performance work across all of the existing packages and b) add write capabilities to a number of them.

Recommended Skills: Experience with file formats, writing performant julia code.

Expected Results: Write capabilities across the packages listed above, competitive performance for all the packages listed above.

Mentors: David Anthoff

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