Am I well-prepared for ML PhD in terms of technical skills?

In the info for prospective students, I stated that "I'm looking for students with solid background in both math and coding". Some of you might wonder what does "solid background" means in a quantitative sense, or you might be wondering -- am I well-prepared for ML PhD in terms of technical skills?

Well, you'll never be **perfectly** prepared, so you should not be scared away that fast. However, to give you a self-assessment of "readiness", in below I provide a list of papers that I've co-authored for "testing" your math skills, and a list of code that I've contributed to for "testing" your coding skills. The idea is NOT to look at them in detail, you should NOT spend > 10mins on each of them. Instead, the idea is for you to quickly see which "technical level" you are happy with.

Math skills:

Level 1: (need basic understanding of neural networks and probability)

Level 2: (need to be comfortable in playing probability rules and linear algebra)

Level 3: (need good understanding on probability theory)

Level 4: (this one is closer to traditional stats) 

Coding skills:

Level 1: (simple optimiser coded up from scratch and tested on toy problems)

Level 2: (implemented a proposed ML approach and some experiments)

Level 3: (excluding the cleverhans package, the purpose is to automate a large-scale empirical study with > 1000 experiments)

Level 4: (the idea is to build a wrapper for a proposed approach, so that users can use it in a way like using Keras high-level API)

🤔 (you can ask me what would Level 5 look like)

You see, the Level 4 items are from my latest works (2020-2021) and this is after 7 years since I started doing ML research. So don't worry too much if you feel you are not at say Level >2 for the technical skills -- my goal is to train my PhD students to reach Level >=3 at the end of their 2nd year.

However, if you feel not very comfortable even when looking at Level 1 items in both lists, then I would suggest you to do a taught Master in AI/ML first. For example, Imperial has an Msc AI program, and I will be teaching ML courses there.

If you feel you are somewhere between Level 1 & 2 but not sure how research in ML feels like, consider applying for the MRes AI & ML program to get a 1-year research project experience, and I will be supervising projects there.