2016 in Retrospect

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Time flies and the end of the year is coming, so it’s high time to summarize what’s happened to us in 2016.

Precognox in the world

, Precognox

We are participating in the KConnect Horizon 2020 project, that aims to bring semantic technologies into the medical field. We are proud of being a partner in a truly European project!

This year, Precognox visited the new world and build partnership with Basis Technology. One of our colleague spent three months in Boston, MA as the first step of our co-operation.

We are really multilingual, we were working with texts in (Simplified) Chinese Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, English, and Hungarian. We gained experience with these languages as part of our projects with Meltwater, the biggest social media monitoring company.

Business as usual

According to the basic law of software development, projects occupy the available resources and more resources mean more projects. Precognox is not an exception to this, our team is growing, so we are managing more and more projects. We are continuously working on large scale Java based software development projects for various customers, just have a look at the list of our customers, and you’ll understand why I mention only one of them here. We are about to start major enterprise search and text mining projects, one of them is upgrading the semantic search solutions developed for  Profession‘s online job search portals. Precognox is working on the backend of Profession’s sites for years, so we literally grow up with it, it taught us a lot about enterprise search, so we are excited about the upgrade.

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We have a new product called TAS (Text Analytics System). We had several data collecting and cleaning projects and we distilled our experiences into a new tool. TAS helps you to collect, clean and analyze unstructured data , learn more about it on our website.

For profit, and for the greater good

For years, Precognox employs trainees. Usually, we have software developer and data analyst trainees who are working with us on a part-time basis, and we are welcome students for summer internships too. We are very proud of our former trainees, many of them started their career at top companies, one is doing his PhD in the Netherlands, and many of them is our full-time colleague now. From this September, we are participating in the new collaborative teaching scheme, which means the incoming students spend one-two days at the university as ordinary students and the rest of the week is spent at our company as a full-time employee. We believe that this practice oriented scheme will help students to jumpstart their careers upon graduation.

This year we were working on data driven projects with two NGOs and two research institutions.

We were working on an information visualization dashboard with EMMA (an NGO dedicated to inform and help pregnant women). As part of an European project, EMMA’s volunteers interviewed several women on their experiences during pregnancy and motherhood across the country and we analyzed this data by using various text mining tools. This project helped us to design a workflow for rapid prototyping text mining solutions, you can find projects based on this here and here. We do hope EMMA can use our dashboard for analyzing their data and we can work together on interesting projects in the future.

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This summer, we started working with Járókelő, a platform for reporting potholes and other anomalies in the city to the authorities. We’d like to develop a scoring mechanism for the stakeholders.

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We are processing public procurement data for the Corruption Research Centre Budapest, and the Government Transparency Institute. Our partners’ research on monitoring procurement related corruption has been featured on The Economist recently.

Precognox is committed to open data, that’s why we published our Hungarian sentiment lexicon on opendata.hu under a permissive licence.

We publish on our research project on Nyelv és Tudomány (Language and Science, a popular scientific online magazine). E.g. we wrote a long article on the media representation of migrants in the Hungarian online media, we published several pieces on the social and ethical questions of AI and big data, and we made style transfer videos for the portal in 2016.

Work should be fun!

While we have lots of projects, we are continuously improving ourselves. That’s why we are organizing the Hungarian Natural Language Processing Meetup since 2012. This year, we teamed up with Meltwater and nyest.hu and took the meetup to the next level. We had six meetings with speakers from industry and academia. Two meetups were held in English with speakers from Oxford, San Francisco (Meltwater), and London (BlackSwan).

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Precognox is a distributed company with offices in Kaposvár and Budapest, and team members from Szeged and other parts of the country. Several times a year,  we get together to talk about our projects and just to have a blast. Of course, we are real geeks, so we organized in-house hackathons at these events, and we loved hacking on data projects.

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, Precognox

We are addicted to conferences. Every year, we attend MSZNY (the Hungarian Computational Linguistics conference), BI Forum (the yearly business intelligence conference in Hungary) and many more. We are happy to present our research to the public and get feedback from the community. Also, we love sharing our knowledge with others, e.g. this year, we gave a lesson on text mining at Kürt Academy’s Data Science course, and a lesson on content analysis and text mining for master students at Statistics Department of ELTE TATK.

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This year, we made lots of dashboards for profit and for help scientific inquiries. Having finished these projects, we felt the need for introspection. Although, we were working hard to show what data tells us, we didn’t use the full potential of data analysis for advancing humanity. We needed a reason to continue our efforts, we needed a new goal. We turned to the Jedi Church for consolation, the church connected us to the Force, and the Force helped us to visualize the Start Wars texts.

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We are so artsy

Everything started with a job ad. We were looking for a new intern, we needed a photo for the post that describes the ideal applicant. It seemed to be a good idea to give a try to style transfer and attach an image of our team in the style of Iranian mosaics.

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Later, our Budapest unit moved to a new office, so we thought it is a good idea to develop our own decoration for the new place. The results are hilarious, a new typeface (yes!) with characters composed from graphs, and the following pictures.

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Finally “SEMMI” (means nothing) got on the wall of our room.

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We are very keen on style transfer, so we made videos too.

Having worked with pictures and characters, we needed a new challenge, so we sonified emotion time series extracted from Hungarian news published during the migration crisis.

And now for something completely different

This year we were working hard and playing hard, it’s time to have a short break. Next year, Precognox will start offering new solutions to its customers and exciting new projects to its employees. Stay tuned, we’re going to blog about these!