Software Developer Builds Tool to Streamline Machine Learning | The new times


Vérité Mugabo Makuza, 19, developed Kobra, a visual programming tool designed to make machine learning (ML) easy to learn and experiment with.

The Rwanda Coding Academy (RCA) graduate recently secured $1 million from OSS Capital, a company based in San Francisco, USA, for the project.

Machine learning, according to TechTarget Network, is a type of artificial intelligence that allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so.

Recommendation engines such as YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon are a common use case for machine learning. Other common uses include fraud detection, spam filtering, malware threat detection, business process automation, and predictive maintenance.

A snapshot of Kobra’s user interface. Photo: courtesy.

“Kobra helps people who don’t know much about programming understand machine learning,” Makuza said. “If you can understand English, you can understand my project. You just go to the “editor” section and it asks you to do and achieve what you want. It allows you to learn and apply what you have learned.

Makuza began developing the program in 2020 while a sophomore at RCA. He joined the school in 2019 without any programming skills.

According to him, the school helped him unlock his potential as he further explored programming, working on various projects.

When the idea of ​​creating something that could help people understand machine learning came to him, he found it interesting given that he had realized that computers are very intelligent devices that people take for granted.

“I wanted to show people how smart and useful computers are by giving them the right skills to find out,” he said.

He started building his “Kobra” program from scratch and uploaded his prototype to Github, a code hosting platform for version control and collaboration.

When he shared it, people loved it and compelled him to try harder, with some suggesting adding important features to improve the program.

“It gave me a lot of satisfaction to realize that what I had created with my brain and my hands was actually useful to the world,” he said.

Talking about how Kobra works, he said, “A user can try it out without logging in, but can choose to log in to access more features. A user can download a dataset, visualize it using different graphs, and use it to train a machine learning model. »

A machine learning model, according to Microsoft, is a file that has been trained to recognize certain types of patterns. Usually, one trains a model on a set of data, providing it with a set of rules that it can use to reason and learn from that data.

On the other hand, a dataset is a collection of related discrete elements of related data that can be viewed individually or in combination, or managed as a whole entity.

Investment potential and future plans

Addressing how he met Replit Ventures, Makuza said he sent them a demo of the project and they loved it and posted his video on their Twitter account. When the investor, OSS Capital, saw him, he contacted him and got in touch with Makuza.

Makuza is currently developing a solid plan on how he will use the money to grow his project and raise seed money.

For him, the reason the investor was interested is that skills in machine learning are mostly acquired at the master’s and doctoral level and are not common in the world of technology.

Other than that, apps that include ML are also useful because they provide accurate information to users and provide better experiences, so having a program that helps people learn the skill in an easy way is “awesome.”

“Many people want to learn ML skills, but good sources of learning are scarce. Some even feel like it’s hard because at some point it involves math or it requires having a lot of programming experience, which isn’t true, because if you focus on something, you can figure it out,” he said.

Makuza also believes that her achievement will help people who are interested in technology to make more interesting inventions, inspiring the public to explore many innovative products.

He plans to add a feature that allows other developers to build apps using Kobra and scale the program to reach a larger user base which is currently 1000 max.

“I also plan to translate the content of the program into Kinyarwanda so that Rwandans can easily learn the skill,” he continued, adding that he is also set to join the university to further hone his skills.

To learn more about how Kobra works, you can check out this video.

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