Recap of the 2021 Azure AI and DevConnections Conference

I gave a short talk at the combined 2021 Azure AI Conference and 2021 DevConnections Conference. See The event was held from December 5-10, 2021 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel.

I estimate there were about 1500 attendees, speakers, and staff at the conference — the first major in-person tech conference since the beginning of the covid pandemic in March 2020. The Azure AI Conference component featured speakers from Microsoft who presented talks about Microsoft AI services, such as Microsoft Cognitive services. The DevConnections Conference component featured speakers from many different companies who presented a wide range of talks. For all practical purposes the joint event was really one big conference.

Left: The keynote talks were early in the morning. Right: The title slide from my presentation.

As is common at tech conferences, the first two days and the last day of the event were dedicated to all-day, hands-on workshops. The middle days of the conference had traditional one-hour talks and keynote talks. Three representative talks: “Azure Data Platform Overview”, “Azure Synapse Analytics Deep Dive”, “Vision in Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services”.

My talk was “Understanding Deep Neural Networks”. I explained what deep neural network are from the perspective of a software developer. My talk was a private, by-invitation-only presentation that was not available to the general public.

One of the slides from my presentation. I explained single hidden layer networks before diving into deep networks.

The joint Azure AI Conference / DevIntersection Conference event is one of my three favorite conferences. I always learn a lot. And I gain insights about what companies are doing — information that is directly applicable to my job. Additionally, after a good tech conference, I return to work with increased enthusiasm and energy.

Left: On my way to the conference from the Las Vegas airport, I saw a “Book Tours Here” sign and like the geek I am, at first interpreted it to mean that there were tours of rare books. Doh. Right: At the same time the Azure AI Conference was happening in Las Vegas, the “National Finals Rodeo” was going on. It’s the Super Bowl of rodeos, and had over 200,000 cowboys in town. It was pretty easy to tell who was in Vegas for the rodeo and who was in town for the Azure AI Conference.

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