In Saclay, the master which trains the elite of specialists in artificial intelligence

These are three letters that sign a promise: that of being labeled crème de la crème of “maths app” (applied mathematics) and artificial intelligence (AI). The MVA, master’s degree in “mathematics of vision and learning”, is a must for training in AI. Connoisseurs of the small AI ecosystem speak of a ” reference “or even a new ” Royal Road “. Applications are pouring in, the digital giants are snapping up its graduates, a weak signal accredits the rise in power of training: companies that want to participate in the master’s internship forum are now jostling together, according to training managers, to have an entry ticket – and seduce this pool of high potentials.

Such as the renowned master’s in “probability and finance” (organized jointly by Sorbonne University and the Ecole polytechnique), nicknamed the “El Karoui” after the name of the mathematician Nicole El Karoui and which trains quantitative analysts, the famous how many of the City, the MVA enjoys a strong brand image. Created in 1996 by the mathematician Robert Azencott, piloted by the mathematics department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) Paris-Saclay, in collaboration with several renowned establishments on the Saclay plateau and two major universities in the Paris region, this selective master trains students in “the theory, modeling, algorithms and real applications around data science and artificial intelligence”. In other words, golden profiles, able to participate in the AI ​​revolution.

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In the early 2000s, around fifty students followed the MVA. In the mid-2010s, the growth of opportunities for data scientists in companies combined with the exhaustion of the entire financial industry after the subprime crisis shifted the center of gravity from applied mathematics to statistics. This produces a demand shock for AI training. “We went from 50 to 100 and then to 200 students trained per year. Which is completely out of the ordinary for a master 2 in research”, explains Nicolas Vayatis, director of the master, professor at ENS Paris-Saclay and director of the Borelli Center. The number of courses has also increased, going from 24 to 47 and requiring the recruitment of teacher-researchers among the best specialists in the various branches of AI. “The specificity of this master is to train mathematicians in the science of digital data around concrete use cases”, unfolds Nicolas Vayatis.

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