Probabilistic Programming Reading Group at the University of Oxford

academic year 2014-2015

Organized by: David Tolpin, Frank Wood


  • Probabilistic programming (PP) has recently attracted much attention in Computer Science and Machine Learning communities.
  • During reading group meetings, we are going to comprehend and discuss
  • - what PP is about;
  • - how it works (different approaches and inference algorithms);
  • - how it has been already applied and can be applied in many areas in the future;
  • - what implementations already exist;
  • - its role in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence; challenges of PP;
  • - the future of PP.

When and where

Meetings take place every Thusrday at 4:00pm-5:00pm at LR8 (IEB building). | News are posted to the mailing list.

How it works

  • One (or several) responsible speakers (who lead the meeting) are being voluntarily (hopefully --- otherwise by random sampling) determined for the preparation of planned reading group meetings.
  • They prepare a cool and interesting 40-minutes presentation based on the goal of the meeting and references, and send it to organizers at least 5 days before the meeting with main points they are going to present and with questions to discuss.
  • Speakers should be sure that their presentation is going to be exactly 40-minutes presentation, so that they disclose the full subject in 40 minutes.
  • New fruitful references are encouraged to be provided, so they can be the base or supplement of future meetings.
  • Reading group's meetings are totally informal and very interactive. If something is unclear for anybody, he/she asks immediately (of course, only if it is unclear whether this will be explained later or not). A speaker or audience should try to provide a clear and fast answer. The question should be very precise, otherwise the moderator will kindly ask the group to continue with the paper in the interest of time.
  • Though meetings are fully informal, they are being moderated in order to keep the timeline.
  • Meetings are supposed to last 60 minutes each.
  • Reading group's members are expected to read the main reference paper, and prepare questions on it before the meeting on this paper.
  • Though this is obvious, everybody is expected to have the reference paper with him/her at the meeting either in hard copy or on your laptop (just how it is more convenient for you).

Background Reading can help you become familiar with probabilistic programming.