Dave Romano-Critchley

Machine Yearning: A Detailed Study of Taking ML to Production

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are all the rage right now. In this session, we’ll be looking at how (at Sainsbury’s Argos) we took an end-to-end case from R&D to a production microservices environment. We will cover a) a specific business case, and how we built it, b) some engineering best practices that can be applied to ML, c) how ML research can be integrated with an agile development cycle, and d) how open ended research can be managed within business strategy. Additionally, we will address some of the typical problems we encountered and overcame for example: a) confidence in what only few people understand b) ways of working between Data science and IT c) ways of working between business, data science and IT and d) the actual development process. At Sainsbury’s Argos we are trying to go from a simple idea (and sometimes a business situation) to a production ML system. Along the way we had to integrate open ended academic research tasks with our existing agile development process and project planning, as well as working out how to deliver the ML system to a production setting in a repeatable, robust way, with all the considerations expected from a normal software project.

Dave has worked in start-ups, investment banking, academia and as an expert witness. Dave has also worked as a consulting software engineer for a number of start-ups, providing interim management skills, implementation of development process, design and architecture and hands-on engineering. Dave was a founder and CTO of zoomf.com the UK's first vertical search engine in the property space (acquired by Trinity Mirror PLC in 2008). He was CTO of FromCounsel.com, a legal tech startup that provides corporate legal intelligence services to top law firms. At Sainsbury’s Argos Dave provides insight and direction into the Research and Development of AI, reporting directly to the Retail CTO.

Outside of work, Dave likes playing the bass guitar, bartering with his 3 sons for time on his PS4 and attempting to learn Mandarin. Dave holds a PhD in computer science from University College London and a BSc in physics from Imperial College London.

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