Session 05 – Part 2: Orit Hazzan and Koby Mike (Israel)

Orit Hazzan and Koby Mike (Israel)

Teaching Core Principles of Machine Learning with a Simple Machine Learning Algorithm: The Case of the KNN Algorithm  - Orit Hazzan and Koby Mike (Israel)

Data science is a new interdisciplinary science that focuses on extracting insights and value from data. Upon scanning introductory data science courses, one usually finds that they include several machine learning algorithms of different kinds.

In this talk, we propose that only one simple algorithm may be sufficient for such courses, illustrating our approach using the KNN algorithm. The main reason we propose the KNN algorithm is that it is simple to understand both from a mathematical perspective and from an algorithmic perspective. This approach is implemented in the basic level of the data science unit of the Israeli high school computer science curriculum. We highlight our approach from three perspectives: Computational, cognitive and pedagogical. We show that despite the simplicity of the KNN algorithm, it enables to expose novice data science learners to the main ideas of machine learning and to pose interesting questions that address its core concepts. We also discuss how such an approach may eliminate barriers, which new teachers may encounter, to both learning the topic and teaching it.  In the discussion, we invite the audience to suggest other algorithms that may serve as the sole algorithm taught in introductory data science courses.

Professor Orit Hazzan is a faculty member at the Technion’s Department of Education in Science and Technology since October 2000. Her research focuses on computer science, software engineering and data science education.

Within this framework she researches cognitive and social processes on the individual, the team and the organization levels, in all kinds of organizations. She has published about 130 papers in professional refereed journals and conference proceedings, and seven books.
In 2006–2008 she served as the Technion’s Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies. In 2007-2010 she chaired the High School Computer Science Curriculum Committee assigned by the Israeli Ministry of Education. In 2011-2015 Hazzan was the faculty Dean. From 2017 to 2019, Hazzan served the Technion Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Additional details can be found on her personal homepage.

Koby Mike is a Ph.D. student in the Technion’s Department of Education in Science and Technology under the supervision of Professor Orit Hazzan.

He holds a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. in electrical engineering. Koby’s doctoral research focuses on data science education. As part of his research, he teaches data science in high school and at Tel Aviv University. Prior to his doctoral studies, Koby has gained an extensive experience in the Israeli hi-tech industry.

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