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I'm about to go into my third and final year of my mathematics degree and I recently discovered some master's programmes in AI that really interest me. I have very little experience in programming. I've done some very basic programming in Python when I was doing my A-levels and some of my Uni modules so far included the use of MATLAB, Maple and R. I'm also going to be doing a module called Formal Languages and Theory of Computation this year, but I feel like this is not going to be enough to show my interest in the subject when I apply.

Can anyone advise on what sort of things I should be doing over next year in order to prepare myself for a course in AI and how do I go about doing them?

Thanks!

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  • $\begingroup$ The question is about tools and academic preparation for attending an AI course at the university. Be familiar with the Python language is a good starting point. In the movie Wargames (1983) there was a scene Falcon's maze in which the protagonist had prepared himself to become some kind of Rocky Balboa. He was doing so by exploring the books in the library and read the entire microfiche catalog. $\endgroup$ – Manuel Rodriguez Sep 10 at 18:31
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Well, mathematics is a very strong field in AI as that is what most AI algorithms revolve around. You only need to learn how to write code (Mostly python or c++, python is easier to learn in my opinion) and how to write mathematical equations in code. Once you have that down it should be enough but I don't how courses work at yours as I know our University require a degree in computer science.

If you want to impress somebody then I can pass you an old University assignment I had about backpropagation in neural networks. It does not involve any code but to determine the partial derivative of an equation that is used to update weights in a neural network. If you do the assignment correctly you should know the basics of how a fully connected neural network works, which is the cornerstone of most neural networks, and also how to train it through backpropagation using only maths. Not only would you know how neural networks work but you would have something to show for it. Witch hopefully could contribute to applying for your Masters.

Lastly, I know of people that wrote scientific papers in the realm of computer science, to prove they would survive in masters, and then applied for a Master's degree in Computer Science. If you are really serious about it you can do this but just double-check with someone as you might do all the work for naught.

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First of all, it is imperative that you have good grades. So work on that. Mathematics is considered as appropriate background for an AI masters so having good grades will get you on the entry radar! Then, since you are on your last year you could select an elective related to AI or even better choose a final project on AI, if available on your course modules. Furthermore, you could check whether a professor in your department's faculty publishes with students and try to work with him for a while. Having published in the field would help your academic CV.

Apart from that, in order to gain experience you could check online courses but at the same time work on your own projects. Andrew Ng's specialization has helped me a lot, but what helped me even more was applying the taught concepts and creating a portfolio(e.g. create an API, try to implement papers etc). There is also a Tensorflow specialization among many other courses that you could check on the web. Forming a group would enable hands-on experience as you could collectively work with others and learn from them. So search for local AI groups and within your university, there should be someone you could work with.

Coding wise, as you probably know python is very popular in AI-ML but C++ and Java are viable options as well. Just decide on what suits you and focus your effort on a single coding language.

Another approach you could evaluate is applying for an AI internship if possible. Check your university's research lab or your companies in your area for a data-science or ML related position. This way you can learn and apply concepts while enhancing your CV. In general keep an open mind and do not try to focus on a single AI sub-domain early on. Chances are that you 'll change your mind!

Finally, check the prerequisites of the schools that your want to go to, thoroughly. Follow them and their alumni on linkedin to see what they are up to and try contacting one or two in order to ask questions. Getting inside information is key!

Good luck and may you accomplish your goals!

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