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Deep Learning, Production and You

YOW! Data 2018

Simply building a successful machine learning product is extremely challenging, and just as much effort is needed to turn that model into a customer-facing product. Drawing on their experience working on Zendesk’s article recommendation product, Wai Chee Yau and Jeffrey Theobald discuss design challenges and real-world problems you may encounter when building a machine learning product at scale.

Wai Chee and Jeffrey cover the evolution of the machine learning system, from individual models per customer (using Hadoop to aggregate the training data) to a universal deep learning model for all customers using TensorFlow, and outline some challenges they faced while building the infrastructure to serve TensorFlow models. They also explore the complexities of seamlessly upgrading to a new version of the model and detail the architecture that handles the constantly changing collection of articles that feed into the recommendation engine.

Topics include:

  • Infrastructure for continuously changing textual data
  • Deploying and serving TensorFlow models in production
  • Real-world production problems when dealing with a machine learning model
  • Data, customer feedback, and user experience

Jeffrey Theobald

Sr. Software Engineer



Jeffrey Theobald is a senior data engineer at Zendesk. Jeffrey has worked in data engineering for eight years, mostly using Python, bash, Ruby, C++, and Java. He has used Hadoop since 2011 and has built analytics and batch processing systems as well as data preparation tools for machine learning.

Wai Chee Yau

Staff Software Engineer



Wai Chee is a staff software engineer at Zendesk. She is a polyglot developer who loves working with data and machine learning. She has more than ten years experience in data processing, distributed systems, API, and web applications. She holds a PhD in computer vision. She is a mum to a cheeky miniature schnauzer. In her spare time she likes to explore dog training techniques and savour street food from all around the world.