|Employer||Emergent Music LLC|
|Title||Chief Technology officer|
Fighting spam with algorithms
In 2003, Robinson published an article in Linux Journal which discussed mathematical approaches for fighting spam which led to work along with Tim Peters on the SpamBayes project which began in 2002. The SpamBayes approach was notable because it assigned scores to both spam and ham (useful emails) and used an algorithm to guess intelligently whether an incoming email was spam; the scoring system enabled the program to return a value of unsure if both the spam and ham scores were high. His mathematical approaches were also used in projects such as SpamAssassin. SpamAssassin combined a Bayesian statistical approach using a text-classifier rule-based approach to whittle down spam. Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, undesired bulk messages, according to David Anderson, who quoted Robinson's approaches in 2006. Robinson commented in Linux Journal on how fighting spam was a collaborative effort:
The approach described here truly has been a distributed effort in the best open-source tradition. Paul Graham, an author of books on Lisp, suggested an approach to filtering spam in his on-line article, “A Plan for Spam”. I took his approach for generating probabilities associated with words, altered it slightly and proposed a Bayesian calculation for dealing with words that hadn't appeared very often … an approach based on the chi-square distribution for combining the individual word probabilities into a combined probability (actually a pair of probabilities—see below) representing an e-mail. Finally, Tim Peters of the Spambayes Project proposed a way of generating a particularly useful spamminess indicator based on the combined probabilities. All along the way the work was guided by ongoing testing of embodiments written in Python by Tim Peters for Spambayes and in C by Greg Louis of the Bogofilter Project. The testing was done by a number of people involved with those projects. — Gary Robinson, 2003.
In 2010, Robinson was the chief technology officer at FlyFi, an online music service owned by Maine-based Emergent Discovery which uses his anti-spam programming techniques along with collaborative filtering technologies to help make music recommendations to web users. His blog Gary Robinson's Rants has been quoted by others in the computer and online music industries and cited by academic papers. Robinson helped develop recommendation engine technology which applies high-power mathematical techniques using software algorithms to have a computer guess intelligently about what a consumer might like. For example, if a consumer likes music by artists such as the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and the Talking Heads, the computer software will match these preferences with a much larger dataset of other consumers who also like those three artists but which cumulatively has much greater musical knowledge than the single consumer. Accordingly, the computer will find music that the user might like but hasn't been exposed to, and therefore hopefully offer intelligent recommendations. But the mathematics behind such comparisons can become quite complex and involved. Robinson studied mathematics at Bard College and graduated in 1979 and studied further at the Courant Institute of New York University. In the 1980s, Robinson worked on an entrepreneurial start-up dating service called 212-Romance which used similar computer algorithms to match singles romantically. The New York City-based voice mail dating service created community-based automated recommendations and used collaborative filtering technologies which Robinson developed further in other capacities.
- "Gary Robinson". Google. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "I make the music recommendation technology at FlyFi — Where I grew up Bronxville, NY — Companies I've worked for Athenium, OLI Systems, Lambda Technology — Schools I've attended Bard College; Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences"
- "SpamBayes Project Page". SpamBayes. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson provided a lot of the serious maths and theory, as well as his essay on "how to do it better" (see the background page for a link)."
- T.A Meyer and B Whateley (2010-09-18). "SpamBayes: Effective open-source, Bayesian based, email classification system.". Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "G. Robinson, "Spam Detection", [online] 2002, … G. Robinson, "Instructions for Training to Exhaustion", (Gary' Longer Rants), [online] 2004, (see page 8) s"
- Gary Robinson (Mar 01, 2003). "A Statistical Approach to the Spam Problem: Using Bayesian statistics to detect an e-mail's spamminess.". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "This article discusses one of many possible mathematical foundations for a key aspect of spam filtering—generating an indicator of “spamminess” from a collection of tokens representing the content of an e-mail."
- "Background Reading". SpamBayes project. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Sharpen your pencils, this is the mathematical background (such as it is).* The paper that started the ball rolling: Paul Graham's A Plan for Spam.* Gary Robinson has an interesting essay suggesting some improvements to Graham's original approach.* Gary Robinson's Linux Journal article discussed using the chi squared distribution."
- The SpamAssassin Project. "train SpamAssassin's Bayesian classifier". SpamAssassin website. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson's f(x) and combining algorithms, as used in SpamAssassin"
- "Credits — the Perl Programming Language — Algorithms". Perl. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Algorithms: The Bayesian-style text classifier used by SpamAssassin's BAYES rules is based on an approach outlined by Gary Robinson. Thanks, Gary!"
- "Installation". Ubuntu manuals. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson’s f(x) and combining algorithms, as used in SpamAssassin"
- David Anderson (2006-09). "Statistical Spam Filtering — EECS595, Fall 2006". Google. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson proposes an improved method for calculating the word value of a token W. His method modifies Graham’s by adding a confidence factor to scale the word value by the amount of historical data that is available for the token. Let N be the…"
- "Contact “Emergent Discovery”". Emergent Discovery. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2010-10-14. "Emergent Discovery — 565 Congress Street — Suite 201 —Portland, ME 04101"
- Kevin Dangoor (April 30, 2002). "Gary Robinson’s Three Steps to Freedom". BlueSkyOnMars. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson, the head of Emergent Music has an article on his blog about the Three Steps To Freedom. His opinion on this definitely counts, because EM might very well be the future of music. I’m going to chime in with my thoughts here and copy them over to EM’s forum as well."
- "Management Team". FlyFi. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson, CTO, is both a musician and leader in the "recommendation engine" field. Gary’s background reflects his pioneering work in mathematics, technology and collaborative filtering."
- Gary Robinson (2006-01-30). "Request for Your Input Regarding Three Steps To Freedom: THE 3 STEPS TO FREEDOM". Gary Robinson's Rants: Rants on spam, business, digital music, patents, and other assorted random stuff. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "So, as a "thought experiment," I have imagined the following path to creating an alternative music industry."
- "FlyFi iTunes Helper 18.104.22.168 for Mac". CNet. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "The FlyFi iTunes Helper sends the contents of your iTunes data file (a behind the scenes part of your iTunes library) to FlyFi server to be analyzed. By looking at your iTunes music, which is one of the best reflections of your musical tastes, FlyFi can make better new music suggestion. FlyFi can also use this information to better serve other members."
- "Management Team". Emergent Discovery. 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "Gary Robinson, CTO, is a leader in the "recommendation engine" field. Gary’s background reflects his pioneering work in mathematics, technology and collaborative filtering. For instance, as a Research Director at ActiveState, Gary’s work on spam detection is now being widely adopted by the anti-spam industry, including such leading filters as SpamAssassin (PC Magazine's Editor's Choice for spam filtering), SpamSieve (MacWorld's Software of the Year) and SpamBayes (PC World's Editor's Choice for spam filtering)."
- "New York Magazine". Google Books. Sep 12, 1988. Retrieved 2010-09-18. "(ad for 212-Romance on left side of page)"