PredictionIO wants to bring machine learning to program developers

PredictionIO, a startup that has crafted an open-source program developers can use to add machine-learning smarts into their applications, might just be the setting the tone for the next wave in data technology. More than 4,000 people have shown interest in the project by giving it a star on GitHub, hinting at its merit among open-source initiatives. Now investors have thrown $2.5 million at PredictionIO, meaning that development and commercial support of the project can continue. AlchemyAPI, Skytree, Wise.io, and other startups with easy-to-use machine learning services or application programming interfaces have also gotten funding in the recent past. But PredictionIO stands out from those, and not just because it’s free.

Machine learning is cool stuff, but usually it requires a PhD-toting data scientist to figure out.PredictionIO is countering that with its open source machine learning platform that lets developers add intelligence to their products without the need of a fancy degree. Describing itself as the “MySQL of prediction,” PredictionIO provides 20 pre-set algorithms that developers can start running on their data. Data scientists don’t have to feel excluded, either, as they can still dive in an tweak the algorithms to their liking. “We take care of the infrastructure, we retrain the model when new data comes in, we take care of the algorithm. It’s not a black box algorithm. We don’t believe in that,” PredictionIO CEO Simon Chan said in an interview. “Our uniqueness is it seems like we are the most developer friendly machine learning product on the market at this moment. PredictionIO is built on the REST API standard, but it also includes SDKs for Ruby, Python, Scala, Java and more. Open source contributors have also built support for iOS, node.js, .NET and Magento. According to Chan, university students with “decent programming skills” have managed to build app store discovery engines within an hour of starting out on the platform.

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