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first_imgEvery year Google holds on online science fair competition that is open to anybody between 13 and 18 years of age. It’s in this competition we get to see the bright minds of tomorrow, people who will no doubt go on to do amazing things with their lives. Once such person is 17-year-old Brittany Wenger. Her idea was to develop a global neural network based in the cloud that can help doctors diagnose breast cancer.Artificial neural networks (ANN’s) are a way for computer scientists to model a brain, but in some ways they are more powerful. An ANN can see patterns in data that no human can, thus they can be more accurate and the more training data a neural network is given, the more accurate they can be. Brittany’s idea came from to goal of making breast cancer biopsies to be less invasive. Fine needle aspirates are the least invasive biopsy procedure, but doctors often need to perform more invasive procedures in order to be certain.By looking at nine different input features and comparing them to the training examples, Brittany’s cloud-based neural network can detect malignant breast tumors with an accuracy of 99.11%, which is incredible. Because her neural network is deployed in the cloud using Google’s app engine it means it can be accessed from existing medical systems as well as through a web browser or mobile apps.Brittany took the Grand Prize at the Google Science Fair which consisted of $50,000 for a scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos islands, and an internship with one of the fair’s sponsors. She’s also hoping that her program can be put to use in actual hospitals soon and that it can be extended to other forms of cancer.I took a look through Brittany’s presentation slides and was astonished at her level of intelligence. Having just completed a degree in software engineering I still don’t understand neural networks enough to even replicate what she’s done. I can only dream of contributing something to the world as helpful as this, but it’s definitely an inspiration to go further and try to achieve it.Google Science Fair, via NBC Newslast_img read more