February 01, 2018

Developer Spotlight: Benjamin Kyan

Developers are the heart of Algorithmia's marketplace: every day, you create and share amazing algorithms, build upon and remix each others' work, and provide critical feedback which helps us to improve as a service. Thanks to you, we have over 4500 algorithms and 60,000 individuals working together on the Algorithmia platform -- making AI accessible to any developer, anywhere, anytime.

We owe you a huge debt, and try to give back a little with programs such as our free-forever promise which delivers 5k credits monthly to every user. But it's also important to publicly recognize individuals who contribute to the ecosystem, so today we're shining a spotlight on Benjamin Kyan.

Ben's algorithms cover a wide range, from utility algos such as URL-2-PDF through deep learning tools like StyleThief. We caught up with him to learn a bit more about how he got into programming, and what perks his interest.

Ben holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, but started out in chemistry as an undergrad. Working as an intern, he was assigned to tasks such as designing computer visualizations for thousands of rows of scientific data. He quickly realized that computer science was his true passion, leading him into a 20-year career as a self-employed full-stack web developer.

One of the issues that concerns him is language and framework Balkanization: while lots of open-source projects are available on GitHub, there's no guarantee that they'll be in a familiar language/framework, or compatible with your project's existing structure. When Ben discovered Algorithmia via the Hacker News Seattle Meetup, he was attracted to the platform's usability. Since Algorithmia is language-agnostic and has 4500+ different algorithms available with zero setup or DevOps, he's able to access a wide variety of tools without having to install or maintain any additional components.

Some of his favorite algos include DeepFilter and ColorfulImageColorization (machine-learning image transformations which have inspired his own efforts), GeoDistance (which helps him sort places of interest by proximity to user location), Excel2JSON (a tool to convert Excel sheets into usable datasets), and SmartThumbnail (an intelligent image cropper which automatically keeps relevant features, like faces, inside the frame).

Since discovering Algorithmia, he has implemented over a dozen of his own algorithms on the platform, including:

Ben is constantly experimenting, creating new projects of his own. We're big fans of Upflow.Space, a simple but incredibly useful tool for remote logging, which allows a developer send messages into instantly-spawned chatrooms via GET or POST -- perfect for those times when you need to debug code on a system where you have no console access.

ShadowCatcher is his screenshot app that saves the screenshot online while simultaneously copying the URL to the clipboard for instant pasting:

Ben is also working on Slipmap, a bookmarking system that uses iframes to open links, so you can quickly browse without opening multiple tabs/windows. You can see it here in combination with Bivouac, a web-based File Management System that he created:

As a winner of our ticket giveaway, Ben will also be at DeveloperWeek 2018. If you'll be there too, say hi -- and also check out Jon Peck's talk, "The Operating System for AI", which explores a general architecture for serverless machine learning which is discoverable, versioned, scalable and sharable!

Know a developer that we should feature? Tell us all about them!

Jon Peck

Jon Peck

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