Duolingo: How We Learn How You Learn

making.duolingo.com

This is a fascinating use case. Duolingo took a piece of 100-year-old research on educational theory called the "forgetting curve" and turned it into an algorithm that now sits at the heart of their product. The intuition is simple: student retention occurs best when practice is spaced out over time. Not shocking to anyone who has ever crammed for a test.

What I find so interesting about this piece is that the solution wasn't particularly hard. That is not at all to say that it wasn't challenging, but it didn't take a millennium of GPU time or fundamental breakthroughs in methods. It was a bunch of smart people thinking hard about how to apply existing techniques to a very specific, high-value domainThis will be increasingly common as data science moves further into the deployment phase.

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