My name is Jeff Heaton. I am an author, consultant, artificial intelligence (AI) researcher and former college instructor. I have written more than a dozen books on topics including AI, virtual worlds, spiders and bots. I am the leader of the Encog project, which is an open source initiative to provide an advanced neural network and bot framework for Java and DotNet. I am Sun Certified Java Programmer and a Senior Member of the IEEE, I have a Masters Degree in Information Management from Washington University in St. Louis. I live in suburban St. Louis, Missouri with my wife.
I created Heaton Research to pursue self-publishing activity related to my primary area of research-- artificial intelligence. In the past I wrote books through large publishers. Perhaps I may return to a large publisher to write another book for a large publisher, but for now, I find that self publishing allows several important advantages. Primarily, advances in printing technology have made self publishing very viable. My books appear on Amazon, and other online retailers, right along with the books that I wrote for the big publishing houses. I hire professional artists and editors to help me produce these books, so the end product is very similar to books I wrote for the large publishing houses.
Another advantage of self publishing is that I can target niche areas that interest me, such as artificial intelligence. Because self publishing has much lower overhead than traditional publishing a decent profit can be made by selling a smaller number of books. I also have a greater deal of control over my books. One particular area of control that I enjoy is ebooks. With my global audience, ebooks have become a large portion of my total sales volume. Additionally, since I am the publisher, I do not have to sell ebooks laced with DRM, like the large publishers seem very fond of doing.
Encog is a very important part of the Heaton Research activities. Encog is an open source artificial intelligence framework for both Java and DotNet. Encog is primarily focused on neural networks and bot programming. I hope to extend Encog into some areas of natural language processing soon. Encog allows you to quickly create many common neural network forms, such as feedforward perceptrons, self organizing maps, Adaline, bidirectional associative memory, Elman, Jordan and Hopfield networks.
Encog provides me with a stable neural network platform to base some of my books on. My more introductory neural network books focus on creating a neural network without using Encog. This allows the reader to focus on how a neural network works internally. My more advanced neural network books focus on using Encog to implement more advanced neural network structures.
I run Heaton Research from a spare bedroom my house. The spare bedroom office is also used to shoot the instructional videos that I produce. In the past I taught computer programming courses at Maryville University. Now, using YouTube I am attempting to provide a similar experience through Heaton Research. I create online video tutorials and even entire courses through YouTube. These videos, and their accompanying course material can be viewed at the Heaton Research website. These videos focus primarily on artificial intelligence.
A lighting kit is used to properly light the videos. When the lights are not being used they can be conveniently stored in the bedroom's closet. Here you can see the office without the lights installed. The center of the room is left clear so that the camera will have a good shot. A regular Cannon consumer high definition camcorder is used together with a lavaliere microphone. This provides a good environment to produce videos that have clear sound and plenty of light.
Second Life is another area of interest for Heaton Research. Second Life is a "virtual world" where avatars can explore virtual land "owned" and created by other avatars. What is particularly interesting about Second Life is that very complex 3D objects can be created in the Second Life world. These objects can be scripted using a somewhat primitive computer language named Linden Scripting Language (LSL). I published several books on LSL programming. I also use Second Life as a platform for AI research. Heaton Research maintains several islands in Second Life.
I am the only permanent "employee" of Heaton Research. I hire graphic artists, editors, and other contract help on an "as needed basis". Additionally, Encog is an open source project and accepts contributions from programmers from around the world. Heaton Research's books are sold through distributors and print-on-demand publishing so I do not need employees to help warehouse, stock and ship books.
I use both Java and Microsoft DotNet technology for Heaton Research products. I really do not consider myself focused on either Java or DotNet, both are important technologies that I want Encog to be successful on. Additionally, we also try to maintain compatibility with related technologies, such as Mono and Silverlight. I primarily use Macintosh computers, but use several Windows machines, as well as VMWare when doing Microsoft DotNet development. The Windows computers are also very important for ensuring Windows Java compatibility.
I have many exciting enhancements planned for Encog and additional educational material to publish at Heaton Research! If you would like to stay up to date subscribe to our RSS Feed, YouTube videos or Twitter feed.