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Title: Back in October 1991 when Linus Torvalds posted to the comp.os.minix newsgroup with the words


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Back in October 1991 when Linus Torvalds
posted to the comp.os.minix newsgroup with the
words
. Hello
everybody out there using minix-
. I'm doing a (free)
operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and
professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT
clones, little did he anticipate that his
hobby would result in one of the greatest
revolutions in the computer science field, the
Linux OS. The last few months have seen
many new releases in the open source software
arena. Beginning with the release of Suse 10.0 in
October 2005, we have had KDE 3.5 in November
2005, Gentoo 2006 and Firefox 1.5.0.1 in February
2006 and Gnome 2.14 and Fedora Core 5 in March
2006, all in quick succession. The hardware arena
has also had many innovations an example being
the dual core processor technology. It is in this
new age of Computer Science that ACA brings to
you the maiden issue of e-miracle, the magazine
for the Computer Science department of IIT
Kanpur. The ACA activities this year
started with the departmental freshers early last
year where an unprecedented participation was
seen. The first year put on a good show with the
audience exploding into peals of laughter by the
skit performance. Later, an internship talk was
organized where seniors who had got groovy
internships last year provided their valuable
guidance to students seeking internships in
summer 2006. We also had a talk by Prof Pankaj
Jalote of the department, on opportunities in the
field of Computer Science after B.Tech.
Just after the second mid-semester exam, we
had the departmental picnic to Khajurao and Rhine
falls which was a one day trip full of
excitement. Recently we have had a talk by the
outgoing batch on applying to universities for
MS/PhD. This year a number of students have got
schols in reputed universities and the talk gave
valuable insight into apping which might help
this positive trend to continue. We have also had
departmental T-shirts this year! Do check the aca
website for snaps from the departmental picnic
and some new resources that have been uploaded in
the Downloads section. The placement scenario
has without doubt been impressive this session,
with a number of new corporations coming for
recruitment, notably those from the finance
sector. The placement details can also be
obtained from the aca
4
website. In this issue of
e-miracle, we bring to you internship experiences
of seniors, interview experiences of people who
qualified for jobs at Google, an overview of the
activities of the dot NET club, an interview with
Avnish Bajaj, a chat interview with alumnus Vyom
Kumar Gupta who is currently pursuing his MBA
from IIM Ahmedabad and a plethora of thought
provoking articles and poem from the faculty and
students. Last year Cherian made us
proud by qualifying for the Lucent
Scholar- ship. Continuing with the same trend, we
have Piyush who has bagged the prestigious Aditya
Birla Scholarship. In the achievers talk
section these achievers have shared their
experiences. So go ahead, experience the
miracle! Happy reading. Deeptanshu
Shukla Chief Editor e-miracle
5
Well, not quite! Morgenstern proved that
the entire journey made by Holmes and Moriarty
was unnecessary, said Emily consuming, in style,
the last bits of the fry that she got with her
southwest chicken sandwich. It was a rather pale
and snowy afternoon of mid-March in Ithaca and I
was enjoying yet another quality lunch with Emily
at the Ivy House. Emily went on to justify her
statement, but I was not paying much attention. I
was rather busy having my chicken noodles stir
fry. Then more than a year has passed. This
summer I received an email from Emily announcing
the much awaited completion of her PhD, her
immediate plans of traveling across Europe, an
invitation to join her at Barcelona, and a link
to her dissertation. While flipping through her
dissertation I remembered this discussion and
thought this might be the right time to explore
this a little more. I must say this was
fascinating. In this article I will try to share
with you some of the things that I learned in the
process and might be of interest to a computer
scientist. You should not blame me for my
deliberate attempt of associating undecidability
and the name of Turing with those of a
detective-cum-chemist-cum-violinist and a
professor-cum-criminal. None of these ideas are
mine look for references at the end of this
article. In The Final Problem Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle painted the character of Professor
James Moriarty. However, we are only interested
in the part of the story where Holmes is being
chased by Moriarty starting at the Victoria
station in London. When the train carrying Holmes
and Watson steams off from London Holmes spots
Moriarty at the station trying to stop the train.
Of course, he fails to stop the train, but there
is no reason for Holmes to believe that Moriarty
didnt see them. So he calculates that Moriarty
will take a faster train, reach Dover before
Holmes, and stop him from escaping England. The
train which Holmes took stopped only at one
intermediate station, Canterbury. Holmes and
Watson decided to get down at Canterbury, and as
expected, they watched Moriarty heading toward
Dover in the next train. Now let us pause here
and think for a while. Why did Sir Arthur make
Holmes and Watson alight at Canterbury? The story
could be written otherwise also. Moriarty could
get down at Canterbury and Holmes could continue
to Dover. I will first present a game-theoretic
argument (due to Oskar Morgenstern) to show that
what Sir Arthur did was the closest possible to a
Nash equilibrium. Of course, Sir Arthur did not
know anything about Nash equilibrium because Nash
was born in 1928, thirty five years after the
first print of The Final Problem.
6
To make sure that I am with everyone, let
me digress a little and summarize the ingredients
of a two person zero-sum non-cooperative game and
Nash equilibria. In a game every player has a set
of strategies. A player may choose one of the
strategies from this set and stick to that or may
choose multiple strategies with certain
probabilities. In the latter case for every play
of the game the player selects a strategy such
that in the long run the probability distribution
of the strategies converges to what the player
wants. We will be interested only in two-player
or equivalently called two-person games. Our
players are, of course, Holmes and Moriarty (if
you are a fan of Watson and do not want to
exclude him from the story, feel free to put him
on Holmess side). Also, each player here has two
strategies, namely, either getting down at
Canterbury (C) or continuing to Dover (D). Let us
denote the strategy set of Holmes as SH CH,DH
and that of Moriarty as SM CM,DM. So we are
in a position to define a possible play of the
game as one of the four elements of SH SM.
Clearly, each of these four choices comes with
certain pay-offs for both Holmes and Moriarty. In
a zero-sum game the sum of pay-offs of the
players for each possible strategy product must
be zero. In our case it makes perfect sense to
model this game as a zero-sum game i.e. the
amount Moriarty gains is exactly the amount
Holmes loses. Now let us decide some meaningful
pay-offs. If Holmes gets down at Canterbury and
Moriarty also gets down at Canterbury (CH,CM), we
give Moriarty 10 points and -10 to Holmes because
clearly this is not a very happy situation for
Holmes (and poor Watson). For the (CH,DM) case we
give both Holmes and Moriarty zero point because
both are in good positions, which, however,
cannot be called winning positions. Moriarty is
successful in confining Holmes to England and
Holmes has at least got some time to think. For
the (DH,CM) case we give Moriarty -10 points and
Holmes 10 points because this is the ideal
situation for Holmes and company. Finally, for
the (DH,DM) case we award Moriarty 10 points and
Holmes -10. So we can present this in the form of
a matrix as shown below. The first component of
each matrix element is the pay-off of Holmes
while the second is that of Moriarty. In a
non-cooperative game a player decides his
strategy by looking at the situation from Table
1. Game matrix
CM DM__ _ CH
-10, 10 0, 0
DH 10, -10 -10, 10 his viewpoint only
i.e. he thinks unilaterally. Our game is clearly
a non-
7
non-cooperative game because Holmes and Moriarty
decide their strategies without any communication
between them. However, both are fully aware of
the game matrix. A non-cooperative game is said
to be in a pure strategy Nash equilibrium when
each player chooses one strategy and he does not
have any incentive to change the strategy
unilaterally. On the other hand, the game accepts
a mixed strategy Nash equilibrium when each
player chooses a subset of strategies with
certain probability distribution and he does not
have any incentive to deviate from the chosen
strategy profile. Clearly, pure strategy Nash
equilibria are degenerate cases of mixed
equilibria. Nash, in his Nobel winning 27-page
PhD dissertation, showed that every finite
non-cooperative game (need not be zero-sum or
two-person) accepts a Nash equilibrium. Now we
are ready to calculate the Nash equilibrium for
our game. Let us suppose that Holmes chooses CH
with probability p and DH with probability 1 - p.
Similarly, Moriarty chooses CM with probability q
and DM with probability 1-q. The expected pay-off
of Holmes is given by PH
p(-10q) (1 - p)(10q (-10)(1 - q)),
(1) which can be written as PH -30(p -23)(q
-13) -103 . (2) Clearly, Holmes would try to
maximize PH and therefore would choose a p such
that (p - 23 )(q - 13 ) is negative. But he knows
that Moriarty would try to minimize PH and
therefore he will definitely choose a q such that
(p- 23 )(q - 13 ) is positive. Therefore,
whatever p Holmes chooses Moriarty will re-adjust
q so that PH is minimized. Holmes will then
re-calculate p to maximize PH. The process
converges to an equilibrium when p 2/3, q
1/3. Qualitatively, by choosing p 2/3, q 1/3
both Holmes and Moriarty minimize the risk. You
can convince yourself that this is indeed a Nash
equilibrium i.e. neither Holmes nor Moriarty has
a reason to deviate from this assuming that the
other person will not change his strategy. Thus
the Holmes-Moriarty game accepts a mixed strategy
Nash equilibrium where Holmes gets down at
Canterbury with probability 0.67 and Moriarty
continues to Dover with probability 0.67.
So far so good. What does it mean in real life?
Clearly, it doesnt make any sense at all. Our
game accepts a mixed strategy equilibrium, but it
is really a one-chance game. You simply cannot
toss a coin (biased of course) and repeat the
game hoping to realize the probability
distribution in the long
8
run. So Sir Arthur did his best to approximate
this mixed Nash equilibrium as a pure
equilibrium. The mixed equilibrium is biased
towards the case (CH,DM) and that is exactly what
Sir Arthur did in his story. Now let us see
whether Sir Arthur actually made the situation
worse by not following the exact mixed strategy
(of course, he could not because it is a
one-chance game). At the Nash equilibrium the
value of PH is -10/3. So Holmes ends up with
-3.33 points and Moriarty gets 3.33 points.
Clearly, the Nash equilibrium favors Moriarty.
However, in reality the pure strategy (CH,DM) was
followed and in this case the pay-off of Holmes
is 0. Therefore, Sir Arthur did improve the
situation of Holmes compared to the one induced
by the Nash equilibrium. We might argue that
survival of Holmes is important for society
(although the fans of Moriarty would argue
otherwise). Therefore, Sir Arthur actually
improved the social value of the game compared to
the Nash equilibrium. It, actually, is a
well-known fact that the strategy profile
inducing a Nash equilibrium is not always the
socially preferred choice or does not always lead
to the social optimum. Morgenstern proposed
a rather interesting theory related to this game.
Consider the situation of Holmes. Clearly, he can
compute the Nash equilibrium, but the real
question is why he should stop there or why the
Nash equilibrium is at all important, given that
this one-chance game will never converge to the
Nash equilibrium in practice. He can actually
guess that Moriarty would figure out that Holmes
would get down at Canterbury. According to that
Moriarty would re-calculate his moves. Holmes
would also re-calculate. his moves. The process
continues. Holmes thinks that Moriarty thinks
that Holmes thinks that Moriarty thinks. . . .
Well, Morgenstern came to the conclusion that
soon the logic would get so complicated that the
less smarter person (there is doubt about who is
less smarter) would just surrender at the
Victoria station in London obviating the need for
the entire journey. Rather interestingly, this
argument actually leads to a more important
result which tells us that the best strategy
computation in this type of games is undecidable.
The proof proceeds via a diagonalization process
involving enumeration of Turing machines. I will
not go into the details of it, but simply leave
you with a qualitative description. The basic
idea is to model Holmes and Moriarty as two
Turing machines i and j and assume that such
Turing machines actually compute the best
strategy choice. Let gi(j) be the best strategy
of Turing machine i when fed with the
configuration of machine j. Similarly, gj(i) is
the best response of machine j when fed with the
details of machine i. Therefore, there must exist
a best strategy function f computed by
9
machine i such that f(gj(i)) gi(j). Thus if
machine i represents Holmes and the strategy
gj(i) is such that Moriarty goes to Dover with
more than half probability then f must output a
strategy such that Holmes ends up in Canterbury.
Now by enumerating all the mixed strategies (only
the countable subset) and arguing about the
existence of fixed points of f one can come to a
contradiction to our assumption that such Turing
machines exist. Simply speaking, to compute the
best response, Turing machine i must simulate the
actions of machine j which must in turn simulate
the machine i, and so on. This self-reference, in
a sense, makes this problem undecidable. I will
stop here and leave you with some references.
Bye! Further Reading 1. K. Binmore. Modeling
Rational Players I. In Economics and Philosophy,
vol. 3, pages 955, 1987. 2. R. Koppl and J. B.
Rosser. All That I Have to Say Has Already
Crossed Your Mind. In Metroeconomica, vol. 53,
pages 339360, 2002. 3. O. Morgenstern. Perfect
Foresight and Economic Equilibrium. In Selected
Economic Writings of Oskar Morgenstern, 1976
(Original in German, 1935). 4. D. H. Wolpert. An
Incompleteness Theorem for Calculating the
Future. In Technical Report 96-03-008 , Santa Fe
Institute, 1996.
10
Vyom Kumar Kumar is in the 1st year in IIM
Ahmedabad. He did his B-Tech in CSE from IIT
Kanpur. __________________________________________
_____________ EM Good evening Vyom. How are you
doing today? VKG I am doing fine, thank
you. EM Having been through the portals of the
best technological institute as well as the best
management institute in India, what difference do
you find between the two? VKG There's a lot
more diversity here, in terms of the background
of people who come here and that makes the whole
process more interesting in some respects.
There's a lot of variety in the courses as
well. EM From what different backgrounds do you
find people there? VKG There are a lot of
engineers, commerce graduates, a couple of
doctors, some people who have come from defence
forces and more. There's also variety with
respect to work experience you meet freshers as
well as people with a lot of work experience. At
times, it helps you get a different perspective
to look at things EM Could you give us an
account of a typical day at IIMA? VKG A typical
day could vary a lot depending on which term it
is, like first term is quite hectic especially
because one is trying to settle down. A typical
day in first term would be, classes from 9 am to
110 pm .Lunch break and then, on most occasions,
a quiz at 230pm. After that, one is supposed to
prepare for the classes scheduled for the next
day... which could take anywhere from a couple of
hours to more than 4-5 hours, depending on the
mix of courses scheduled for the day. One is
expected to come prepared for the lectures -
there are prescribed readings and case material
that we go through before the lecture. All this
while, we also learn to manage our time better.
So towards the end of the term, we feel lesser
load, except that there are a whole lot of
project submissions scheduled right before end
terms, and matters heat up around then!
11
EM What teaching methodology do they adopt at
IIMA and what is the evaluation criterion? VKG
The teaching is case based, meaning that there's
a case based on the learning for that session.
There are readings and a case, we read and
prepare for the case and do some analysis. Then
the case is discussed in the lecture session.
Evaluation is similar to the one at IITK with a
number of quizzes, one mid term, an end term,
probably one or more projects /assignments. The
number of quizzes is higher, and they are all
unannounced... we get to know about the quiz
after the last lecture of the day is over, around
110 pm. EM What made you choose this option
from amongst the various available to you after
your B.Tech? VKG I had decided that I would do
a job rather than getting into research. I
realised that over time, I would end up getting
into a managerial position and an MBA could
accelerate my career growth. Of course the brand
value of IIMs made the prospect of MBA more
appealing... that was how I thought I would like
to give it a try. EM What points should
graduating students consider while making a
decision about their future plans? VKG In my
opinion, there's still a lot of information
asymmetry... one ends up making decisions without
thinking or knowing about it... So its important
that one look at different avenues. To a certain
extent, one has to take a call based on instincts
and I think it is very justified. But it is also
important to be flexible about considering
opportunities which are apparently away from the
engineering stream. EM When did you start
preparing for CAT and how much time did you
devote for it? VKG I had made the decision
about CAT pretty late, and had begun seriously
considering MBA as an alternative much after I
filled up the form. So my preparation time was
essentially from Sept to Nov for the CAT
screening test. I had taken the CL test series,
and couldnt give much time for preparation apart
from taking the test, on an average, twice a
week.
12
However, I don't think that is advisable to
anyone who has decided about CAT in advance. EM
Could you give us some pointers to effective
studying for CAT? VKG For the written test If
one is preparing for GRE, it helps in the verbal
section (this was the case with me). Quant
section shouldnt be a problem except that one
needs to brush up the formula and of course clear
those lingering doubts from the JEE days. Over
all of course, being able to manage time properly
is really very important. Taking a call on which
question is more doable than the others is
important... and I bet it can only be gained
through practice. DI also requires a lot of
practice, including giving lot of mock
tests. EM Any special tricks to mug up the
enormous wordlist? VKG Well, there's no
alternative to regular revision. Probably cue
cards could be helpful, but I didnt try those. I
think summers are a good time to catch up on
this. If one reads up the entire Barron's list
and retains a significant fraction of it till
CAT, it would be very helpful. EM Any books
which you would recommend for aspirants? VKG I
am sorry I dont have much information about
which books would be more helpful! Of course,
Barron's is recommended for verbal section. EM
What was your percentile score? VKG
99.99ile EM How many calls did you get and how
many of them could you convert? VKG I had all 6
interview calls, attended 4 of them (A B C and L)
and converted all four. EM How many IITians
does your batch comprise of? VKG I think it
should be around 25, in the range of 50 or
so.
13
EM Where do you see yourself 10 years down the
line? VKG Thats interesting ... As a
successful manager! I would like to imagine
myself as having established a credible name for
myself in the occupation I enter, which I believe
is going to be in the financial sector. EM Your
message to juniors at IITK. VKG Well, work hard
and aim for the best things! If you are
interested in something, say an MBA, give it your
best shot!! A half hearted attempt is a terrible
waste of time! Make the most out of being at IITK
because before you realise, those 4 years will
fly by! All the Best! EM Thank you Vyom for
your valuable time, we wish you all the best for
your future endeavors. VKG Thank You!
14
Rachna Agarwal is a 4th year student of
CSE _____________________________________________-
EM Good evening Rachna. How are you doing
today? RA I am doing fine. Thank you. EM
Congratulations on getting placed in Google. RA
Thank you?. EM Could you describe the
selection process for Google? RA Google had a
selection process not much different from most
other companies. There was an initial shortlist
by them which was probably on the basis of CPI.
Then we had a written test which was followed by
4 rounds of interviews for the short listed
candidates. EM What questions were asked in the
screening test? RA The questions centered on
concepts of Data Structures, Algorithms and Logic
(analytical questions). EM What did the panel
consist of? RA For the interviews, there was no
single panel. All the 4 interviews were one to
one, each by a different person. EM Could you
describe your interview? RA All the 4 interviews
were technical. Two of the interviews were mostly
algorithm based. They asked me to give algorithms
for solving some problems. They did not expect me
to give the correct solution always, rather they
wanted to see my thought process, i.e. they asked
me how I was going about solving the problem.
They also gave me hints when I was unable to come
up with any solution. I was asked to code the
solutions that I had proposed. Another interview
focused on my areas of interest, my favorite
courses and the projects I had done in it and
which ones I had liked. They asked me to solve
small puzzles, algorithm based still, but
involving some trick or insight. On the whole,
the interviewers were quite willing to help and
you could start with the most basic solutions you
could think of. In most cases, I started with the
brute force solution and then modifying it to
improve its efficiency.
15
EM What made you choose Google from amongst the
various available to you after your B.Tech? RA I
did not want to go into research though I wanted
to remain in Computer Science, so a good job in a
good CS company was my option. , and among all
these, Google does stand out. I expect that I
would not be made to do the routine programming
jobs that most software companies offer, but be
able to apply and solve more challenging
problems. . EM What will be your
responsibilities at Google? RA I am not very
sure of the exact nature of my responsibilities,
but probably I would be a part of some project
team where I would be building some software
which perhaps you and I would begin to use
addictively?. EM What points should graduating
students consider while making a decision about
the company they decide to join? RA I think they
should first see where their interest lies and
see what the job profile is. Just a big name with
a poor job profile is not a good option. . EM
Any books which you would recommend? RA Revise
your algorithms thoroughly. Most companies
emphasize on that. EM Your message to juniors
at IITK. RA Do what you want to do. Do not let
peer pressure affect you so much that it starts
to overcome your own wishes. Work hard for your
goals, and do not regret for what you could have
done but didnt. Make use of the present. All the
best for your endeavors. May you achieve success
in all walks of life. EM Thank you Rachna for
your valuable time, we wish you all the best for
your future endeavors. RA Thank you.
16
What would you like to do with your life? All
your life, you have been trying to become
something, anything, different from what you are.
Something great. Something big, rich,
powerful. At some point, you realized, that
something was not right with this dream. Too
banal, too selfish, too mediocre. Something
about it leaves you so unfulfilled. Someone in
your wing says in one of those long bull sessions
- let's live life so that we can "make a
difference". You begin to think - what does it
mean, this making a difference? __________________
____________________________ Every time you
see a minute hand on a clock, think of it as a
death count meter for tuberculosis . .
. ______________________________________________
How to "make a difference" depends on where
you are situated. In the United States, everyone
I met was driven by a terrific zeal to start new
firms and become rich. Yes, Bill Gates has made
a difference. But to each his own. I was good at
ideas, and for many years I thought I would find
my mark in the world of ideas and innovation -
through scientific research. After many years
of passionate commitment to scientific research,
I recently had a revelation about doing research
in a country like India. Consider that 1,300
people die in India of Tuberculosis not every
year, month, or week, but every day. And this is
a easily cured disease - all it takes is a
handful of antibiotics. In such a scenario, what
is the relevance of finding better medicines? In
the two minutes you have been reading this, two
more people have died of TB. Every time you see
a minute hand on a clock, think of it as a TB
death meter, ticking away. ... Around this time,
given my background in robotics, a serendipitous
opportunity presented itself - kids started
coming into the lab looking to learn more about
robots. They wanted to build toys that move,
they wanted to tell their own stories. They
wanted to play, but I realized that they were
also learning.
17
And I went back to my primary school days, where
we would sit on a verandah swaying back and
forth, slate in hand, chanting "dui-ekke-dui",
"dui-dugune-char" - multiplication tables in
Bengali. Walking at dusk in the suburbs of the
city, one would hear little voices coming from
yellow-lit windows, chanting the lineage of
Mughal emperors, the list of crops grown in the
Terai. Ours is a nation where exams have become
the key to social mobility, and rote memorization
was the key to exams. All my life I have taken
exams, thousands of them, and I have become an
automaton for vomiting facts and patterns onto
exam books. I can say with confidence that I
remember practically nothing from almost all
those exams. All I remember are things I took
interest in things I worked on myself.
Everything else went down the drains with the
rainwater. All this came back to me as we were
interacting with these children. I began to see
this as an alternative to rote learning, a
playful shortcut to understanding. If you have
ever played with a nephew or a child, you know
how amazingly fulfilling it is to work with
children. This is the power of our biology, the
child's smile unlocks some secret window of
pleasure, and it is a very selfish pleasure in
its own way. Amazingly, large numbers of IIT
students started joining in, and we were
conducting workshops everywhere. Some of the
pioneering students, such as Manu Prakash or
Vibhanshu Abhishek, were Instrumental in getting
me to realize the potential of a constructive
approach to learning. Eventually we began to
think of building hands-on devices as a long term
alternative to exam-driven education. Today, in
the program that has come to be called BRiCS (it
used to stand for "Build Robots Create Science"),
we take a bunch of kids, give them some paper,
straws, wire, syringes, motors, etc and have them
conceptualize, build and describe interesting
toys. The idea is that this is more storytelling
and less science, but the kids are learning all
the time. They are learning with their whole
bodies, and not just with their abstract minds.
Over the past five years, we have been running
this program through workshops at more than sixty
schools in Maharashtra, Bihar, UP, Delhi,
Haryana, Bengal, Karnataka, etc. We have also
opened chapters in three colleges (BHU-IT,
IIIT-H, NIST) who are working with schools in
their neighbourhoods. We have developed
18
As the next step, we want to take this process
inside the classrooms. In schools adopting BRiCS,
all kids at the class seven level, say, are
introduced to some of the model building
techniques. In one subject every week, these
kids build models from junk to illustrate some
facet of whatever topic they are studying that
week. The following year, they are introduced to
some simple electronics. The following year, some
simple sensor-motor loops. But every week, in a
regular syllabus course, say Social Sciences, or
English, or Biology, they build a model that
reflects the topic being covered that week, and
show their friends what they have done. We don't
know how far we will succeed. It takes an
enormous amount of energy to convince schools of
this agenda. Teachers feel their workload is
going up. Principals would rather we did a quick
"workshop" on robotics, and left their schooling
alone, so that their students could return to
their rote ways. After doing exactly this for
many years, we feel that this leaves only a faint
trace in the child's memory - we need to
introduce hands-on learning inside the classroom,
make it a part of the mainstream. But it is a
challenge. Through it all, the joy of working
with children remains a beacon. It is completely
selfish, one feels like doing it, for one's own
self. It is such a pleasure to see them enjoying
themselves, to see their faces light up as they
talk about what they have built. Today, the
times are conducive for change. The entire
nation realizes the folly of what passes as
education today. The boards are proposing more
project activity - it accounts for 20 marks
today, and will likely be higher in coming years.
There are miles to go before we sleep, but in
the coming years, we hope to be able to move at
least a little distance towards making a
difference.
19
  • The .NET club at IIT Kanpur was founded in
    September 2004. With the overwhelming support
    from Microsoft (India), we have formed a blooming
    nexus of over 250 enthusiastic students. As a
    result we were showcased as the largest user
    group in North India in the Microsoft
    International Summit recently held at New Delhi.
  • As part of the club activities, regular
    lectures are organized to introduce the .NET
    framework to more and more students. In these
    meetings, experienced members of the club present
    the projects they have successfully made to
    showcase the puissance of .NET as a software
    development tool and more. Basics of Visual
    C.NET are also touched upon. As a result, an
    increasing number of students are converting to
    C as the primary language.
  • Introductory and promotional lectures from
    MVPs have helped the students to adopt the .NET
    framework with relative ease. Microsoft has also
    provided us with a free copy of Visual Studio
    2005 and Windows XP Professional for the club
    along with supporting literature in the form of
    books on various topics ranging from C to
    Windows Network Programming, some both in
    hardcopy and e-copies.
  • Since its inception, the club has seen a
    towering, positive response from the students. To
    exemplify, C has come up as a popular option to
    make regular course assignments and projects
    among students of not just the Computer Science
    department.
  • A few of the projects that club members
    have successfully completed are
  • Network Monitor and Packet Sniffer To scan a
    range of IPs on the LAN and to display the open
    ports, MAC Address, shared folders and
    directories if the remote server is on. On
    comparing this application with some commercial
    scanners, it was found to be better in some
    aspects.
  • 3D Renderer Inspired by 3dsmax, this application
    surpasses the latter by incorporating certain
    natural features like dispersion which no 3D
    renderer available does.
  • Speech and Handwriting recognition.

20
  • Proxy Jumping This application can be used to
    connect to the intra-IIT LAN from a computer
    outside the LAN.
  • Some regular course projects which have been made
    in .NET are
  • C Compiler As a part of the Compilers course.
  • J Compiler As a part of the Compilers course.
  • Self Organization in Vowel Systems As a part of
    the course on Language Acquisition, this
    simulation models the evolution and acquisition
    of the human vowel system. This application
    integrated Mathematica 5.0 with .NET.
  • There was a healthy participation in
    Imagine Cup 2005 from IIT Kanpur. A number of
    teams are participating in many categories with
    Visual Gaming being the most popular one. There
    were 2 teams ranked among the top 10 of the
    country in the first round of the same.
  • Continuing with the same zeal, the .NET
    club will see exponential rise in participation.
    With rewards and support from Microsoft in the
    form of T-shirts, books, lectures, and software
    the popularity is ever-increasing.
  • Prateek Singhal
  • Siddharth Jain
  • Coordinators, .NET Club

21
Date May 4th, 2005 Local Time 4 PM
Temperature 4 deg. C Location Vantaa Airport,
Helsinki, Finland. After shaking hands with
my colleagues who came to receive me, we entered
into a car, upon my urge to protect my gaunt self
from the chilly summer! A ride across the city
spanning about 12 km in radius, we reached my
room. After an informal introduction (dont take
the other meaning) we all realized that I would
need to learn a lot before I could begin doing
anything. Next day, at office, my colleagues
explained me through what work I was expected to
do and loaded me with tons of papers as reading
material. The work was good. We were programming
a module in the Linux kernel and boy! we had a
lot of fun (interpret as you like) doing it. We
were implementing an IPSEC mode of traversal
known as BEET in the Linux kernel. I enjoyed the
work culture there, work on week-days and have
fun on week-ends. People were a lot helpful as
they taught me from basic about the work that had
already been done and the work that is expected
out of me. We were working as a team of
three, one from Italy, another from Helsinki and
the third, me. Language was not much of a problem
either at the office or any other place. The city
has good public transport facilities ranging from
underground trains, buses, trams, and ferries.
Students enjoy half rates on travel and food.
Finland is a beautiful country in northern
Europe with Helsinki, its capital, as one of the
southern most point in it. Its population is just
above 5 million (less that half of Delhis
population). You would hardly find any person
after 10 o' clock in night even at the city
center of Helsinki. The highest temperature in
summer sometime makes it to double digits, which
makes local denizens red with heat. Sports
in evenings and traveling places on weekends were
some things that kept me sane. The Nordic
countries have some of the most beautiful tourist
spots. Finnish traditional 'sauna' was a new
experience. Some things that I feel would be
useful for students who are planning to go to
these corners of woods for internships
22
Living expenses The room rents are high ranging
from 300 to 500 euros a month. This is common in
nearly all the Nordic countries and its a good
idea to share a room. Eating Eating out is not
possible for two reasons. One, its too expensive,
two, even non-vegetarians would find it difficult
to swallow the Finnish cooked food (forget about
the vegetarians). You have to cook yourself. So
start learning it. Work to fun ratio Have it
very clear in your mind that you are going for
three months of internship and not traveling. If
you are sincere and hard working enough, you
would earn a good name in your area. The best
policy is to complete your work and then set out
for sight seeing. Pre-intern-work Read
something about what you are going to do in three
months. Ask your professor/guide about reading
materials regarding the work you are expected to
do. This would cut down a lot of time that you
would take to learn there and increases your
self-confidence. And finally, if you have
got an intern offer from abroad, please meet a
senior who has gone to the place nearest to it.
Wish you luck for your interns.
23
So here I am, barely recovered from the
hangover of a ride that was challenging as well
as enlightening and rewarding. Exploring the
applications of all that is only read in books is
definitely an interesting task and if that comes
along with free trips to New York on weekends,
nothing better than it. Yes I am talking about my
summer internship at Lucent Technologies-Bell
Labs, USA. The internship was overall an
experience blended with erudition, delight and
nostalgia. The opportunity for the
internship came to me through one of the
researchers working at Bell Labs, who was looking
for summer students and had asked Prof. Ganguly
for the same. Though my skill-sets did not match
his requirements, I was fortunate enough that he
forwarded my application to his colleagues. Soon
I had telephonic interviews with my mentor and I
knew I was going to US for the summers. And after
the entire struggle in getting the visa, the
efforts finally paid off and I was flying towards
New Jersey while my family had already started
counting days to my return. The first idea
that one ponders upon on way from airport to home
in US is of the luxury enjoyed in being a part of
one of the most developed nations of the world.
The flawlessness of the system took me by
surprise and I was stupefied by the perfection of
everything around me. The smooth roads, regulated
traffic and the clean surroundings are enough to
give a surreal feeling to anyone who had lived 21
years of his life in a city like Kanpur. Within
the next two days I was well settled at my place,
had repaired an old bicycle given to me by the
land lady for use and had gained membership of
the Springfield library. And now it was time for
work. Bell Labs was one of the most
equipped organizations I had ever been to. Though
it defied my imagination of a high-tech lustrous
building and turned out to be a completely old
fashioned red-bricked building from exterior, the
interiors were extremely well furnished. The
aroma from the splendid cafeteria, the highly
stacked library and the small recreation centers,
all finding place inside an architecture
surrounded by lush green gardens, provided the
excellent work environment required for the
quality research work being done at Bell Labs. I
was placed in an office room being shared by four
other interns from various parts of the world.
Interacting with people from various locations is
undoubtedly one of the best experiences of the
training
24
Soon enough the work assignments started
flowing in and the weekdays became involved in
them. Within a week I was joined by another
intern from IIT Mumbai who shared the house with
me and I had found a partner for cooking,
traveling, working and enjoying. Things would
really have been different if I were alone in
that big nation. The work at Lucent was more or
less fun and I was quite fortunate to work in an
enthusiastic and highly intellectual team. The
expectations of my mentor were never too high and
she was actually surprised by the efficiency and
learning ability of IITians. I was able to
contribute to three major projects during my
internship and also published a paper on one of
the works. Though the work load increased toward
the end and I also had to finish a part of it
after coming back to India, it was nonetheless an
unforgettable experience to work with the best
brains of the world. Throughout the
internship the fun factor never ceased. We had
regular outings on weekends and NY being the
closest formed the center spot. One thing where
USA falls short in comparison with other
countries is the lack of adequate public
transportation. The local trains and buses served
less places and were infrequent and expensive.
That really cut short all the traveling we could
have afforded around America. We remained
confined to the eastern coast and visited Boston
and Princeton apart from NY. Many a times there
were trips to near by towns in search for
restaurants serving different cuisines. We also
relished the blue waters of the Atlantic at one
of the beautiful beaches of New Jersey. Amidst
all this fun, in the back of our minds, we had
already started missing the homeland and our
people and the countdown to the date of flight
had begun. The excitement and the joy of
returning to India were unparallel to any other
feeling I ever had. Though I started missing US
soon, living there was no where in comparison to
that in India. This was the greatest fact I
learned during the internship-its people around
you who make the place worth living and enjoying.
For the students who will be going for
internships this year or later, I would just like
to say that give your best and live up to the
reputation of IIT Kanpur and India.
__________________________ Prateek Jain BTech
Final Year Computer Science and Engineering IIT
Kanpur
25
At the beginning of the 6th semester I had
a vague idea of what I wanted to do after
graduating. I could either be doing a job (no
idea what kind of job), or could try seriously
for CAT. In the middle of this big dilemma I also
had no idea what I wanted to do in my summer
internship. At the same time I was seeing people
in my wing send lots of mails to get internships,
some people only mailing the professors they were
interested in, others not so. By this I got an
inclination that studying further in CS was not
for me. I was not cut out to think like a
researcher, was much more interested in applying
CS using Databases, etc. I had a chat with
my grandfather and my kaka (both involved in the
finance industry.) My kaka suggested that I apply
to HDFC Mutual Fund DSP Merrill Lynch for
summer internships so I would get an idea as to
what happens in a financial firm. Also they said
that I could do with a bit of industry experience
to help me decide if I wanted to do an MBA
directly. So they gave me an e-mail address where
I could send my resume follow up with the
people. This is the hardest thing to do. Sending
e-mails to contact_at_xyz.com does not serve any
purpouse After this I was called for
interviews in Bombay for both HDFC MF DSP ML
(Merrill Lynch). With the ML offer sounding like
more interesting work I went there. The
first 3 days of my internship were hell. Reality
was harsh when you came to know that you were an
insignificant part of the company. This was a
stark contrast from IITK where you feel a very
important person. Also it takes them time to set
things up your ability to contribute for a few
days is not that high on their priority. At this
point my access card, comp, etc were all being
arranged. On the 4th day everything
changed when I met an IITK senior. I had one into
different departments to talk to other interns
I accidentally bumped into a senior of IITK now
in IIMC. Well the IITK bonding rocks - he dropped
all his work took me to the terrace we had a
3 hour chat. Later he invited me to their
presentations (they were 8 IIM people who were
about to finish were presenting their work). I
also had a strong feeling that these people were
no super humans with great skill in finance they
were the same as you me with just the ability
to talk in the financial language. IIMs are hyped
to the external world just like the IITs are.
26
In that week I also realized that the
project which I had been recruited for which was
to analyze a software, interface with MPhasis
ML. Well this got delayed so basically I was
jobless till they reallocated me. So I realized
that I wanted to get a financial perspective from
ML, rather than doing some great technical work I
wanted to get a good perspective about the
financial industry. From Monday on the
next week I got my access card computer
started making new friends. I was allocated to a
new project in the Technology department where I
had to design implement a Technology Requests
tracking system (DB work). I met fellow interns
from all over the world - some were UGs in US
UK universities, others were MBAs from Bombay. It
is after meeting these people that I realized the
extent of the India story. All 15 of the US, UK
UGs (most in 3rd year) wanted to come back to
India within 3-5 years. Nobody wanted to settle
in the US even in the medium term. All of them
just wanted some initial capital to start of
with. Also was the fact that although most of the
employees were not brilliant in their fields all
of them were extremely well read, professional,
punctual hard working. That is why they were
doing well. Overall I had an excellent
time in Bombay. Really liked the place (I was
staying in south Bombay with my relatives - took
a bus to Nariman Point(my office)). There is a
lot to learn by staying meeting different
people there, living in an environment which is
so totally different than IITK. The one thing I
missed most there was the open spaces, places to
play relax there. However it is a different
life there with people looking down on Science
up on Commerce (it was different in my school -
DPS RKP). It also gave me a good perspective that
some industry experience is preferable before
doing an MBA. Also that before applying to a job
there should be lots of preparation for the
placements. For people who do not want to
do research ahead I think that an internship in a
good company where you meet a lot of new people
is preferable to a European/US internships
because company exposure helps in taking better
decisions in 4th year. These are about which
companies to apply to, whether to do an MBA
now/later/not do it at all, etc. Note
that the views expressed are my own based on my
experiences in my internship. Queries, Comments
and doubts can be mailed to me at avik_at_iitk.ac.in
27
Prologue I see him there now, alone on the sea,
With tears in his eyes, he seems so unfree. He
doesnt seem like the person I once knew, Its
as though life has passed him through. I
approach him now, with a fear in my heart. I
approach him now, with a feeling of guilt on my
part. Lost in his thoughts, hes looking the
other way. As I reach out for him, I realize I
dont know what to say. Wiping away his tears,
he waits a while, Sensing my fear, he manages a
smile. With a comforting look, he turns towards
the sea, In a calm and steady voice, he says to
me Main On a lonely, grey and dying day, When
the winds have just begun to play, the shadows
have emerged from the trees If you see me crying
alone on the seas. . Dont look at the
reflections from the past, Dont try to remember
the memories that are dying fast. Please dont
feel guilty when you face the breeze, Just
because you saw me crying alone on the seas.
Live your life the way you vowed, Live a life
that will make me proud. Dont ruin it all just
trying to appease, The guy you saw crying alone
on the seas.
28
The heart does things one can never explain.
Whether it is a solitary grief that cannot
contain, Or an overwhelming bliss that is trying
to ease, One can end up crying alone on the
seas. Some things are still not understood by
all. Things, that forever enthrall, Things that
can make a person go week in the knees, And
possibly make him cry alone on the seas. Its
the unexplainable joy that came his way, That
even years of despair couldnt take away, And
its the magic in the love that he still sees,
That makes him cry alone on the seas.
Epilogue Yet another tear starts its descent,
As I see her walk away from me, content. Soon
she will be out of my sight, And Ill turn
towards the sea, who knows my plight. An ocean
of memories he holds inside, So many weep beside
him, yet he never cried. He can see my dreams
right through my face, Unlike her though, who
never saw a trace. I cant let her know, itll
be too much. Theres not a lot that can be done
about it as such. And so, closing my eyes, I
turn towards the sea, To return to the dreams
that could not be.
29
-Some things don't change. Thus burneth
the midnight lamp, for days together. Then
forward you lurch, crossing over to the
university life, leaving behind those years at
high school with a little smug and with bold
dreams of the rich and the famous. -Some things
are not meant to change. Four years in
IIT, the midnight lamp still burneth, but not for
the same reason. The end nears, and once again
you make the lunge, but now a lot more shakily.
Graduate life unfolds. Still a little smug, with
aspirations of the rich and famous, and yes -
bolder dreams of swooning women ! The only
things that change are the rules of the game. And
they are pretty different on this side of the
world. Its not just the tangible universe but the
cosmos beyond that is really difficult to
harness. This cosmos, in short, is the world of
gossip. Actually a little more, lest you mingle
it with girlish banter (with due respect to all
such chirpy talks). It is a hard task, everyday
hours spent on phone, mails, chat et al to know
what a weird professor of an unknown university
is working on, and what his geek student doing on
the weekend. Not all news that is spread is as
bland as systems research is to theory group.
Once in a while you hear of the whose's dating
whom list, how many rejects of a single paper of
a person and the conference which finally
accepted it. And all this happens through a
network of dedicated graduate students, who's
sole aim (apart from feigning research to their
guide) is to selflessly spread the news to fellow
brethren. They are the "feelers". You might be
wondering how to recognize a "feeler"? It's
easy. If you hear someone mention an obscure
name, and then insist that such a guy is the next
big shot in research, followed by the detailed
biodata, well then you should realize you are in
the vicinity of a "feeler". In undergraduate
years, he is the guy who told you which
universities to apply, which professor to spam
and what research field you should claim as
interest while applying in a certain university.
Just like you spend time browsing through filly
profiles in Orkut, a committed "feeler"
wholeheartedly crawls through the websites of
research groups. While undergrad always
appears to be a race against time, graduate
school is superabundance of time, almost on the
verge of relaxation. Inadvertently, the moms of
all the new, initially zealous, bubbling first
year
30
PhD students believe that one gets the degree in
four straight years. Of course the PhD
in-four-years is just a honey trap. All
prospective doctoral students that I have met,
the kind whom you see tottering up and down the
corridor with huge coffee mugs, surprisingly, are
always in their fifth year and still in the
process of deciding their thesis topic !
But then like all things, graduate life has its
charms as well. If you are one of those whose
favorite pastime is to browse websites or who is
unable to get motivated for anything except
checking mails every ten minutes, then you should
definitely apply for higher studies. Free food is
another motivation for getting into graduate
school. There are tens of orientations for scores
of departments, and at all places free Pizza is
served. Evidently this draws a big crowd, so
don't be surprised if you see a computer nerd
sitting in the orientation of the petroleum
department, mentally calculating the time he has
to wait before the slice of pepperoni pizza
reaches him. Free food is available even
if you were to take up a job, but then you will
have to work, unlike in grad school. If I were
to sum up what you need to do as a graduate
student, it is - read papers. Actually just print
them, tons of them. The initial few days are
spent trying to understand the papers, reading
them like a gospel. But in two weeks, truth dawns
and all you sift through is the abstract and
conclusion, and then tell your guide,
confidently, that the paper is not worth a dime.
Everyone loves to hear this about papers not
authored by themselves. Oh yes, remember
the golden rule- there are innovative research
ideas, but you are too young to get them ! This
acts as motivation when you have been a graduate
student for years more than you can remember and
not yet found your thesis topic. Swan Song The
other day my professor wrote us a mail. An
excerpt "My view of grad school is that about
twice a year, for one month, I ask you to really
put your lives on hold. Yes all of grad school
is a bit like having your life on hold, but for
one month don't get a haircut, do minimal
laundry, cut back on date night, get minimal
exercise, reduce your hobbies.
31
The last line is interesting, I just
realized that from my undergraduate years I am
already conditioned to put my life on hold. All
things minimal- from bath to exercise, not to
mention hobbies and of course late night dates
!! Afterthought Did I scare away all
those enthusiasts of graduate studies? Here is a
little pep up. Once in a while spend an
unreasonable amount of energy to achieve your
goal. Entering IIT was possibly one such goal.
But what goal can be better than contributing to
human knowledge? Reach out to contribute. It
takes a lot of work but a real contribution lasts
a long time. _______________________ Indrajit
Roy B.Tech. Computer Science and
Engineering class of 2005
32
One fine day, in my second semester at
IITK, I received a mail informing me that I had
been short listed for the Lucent Scholarship. The
interviews were to be conducted at the ISRO,
Bangalore in the first week of May. I set off for
Bangalore after the end semester exams, and had
to spend about 48 hours in a 3AC compartment.
Twelve students had been short listed for the
interview stage. Eight of them came from the IITs
and the rest were from the NITs and other
colleges. It seems that I was the only one who
had come by train (Most of the others had come by
flight). The students came from a variety
of backgrounds. One had been a radio anchor, some
were synth players, some, international Olympiad
medalists, some, well versed in traditional
Indian dances and so on. Their JEE ranks varied
from 2 to the 300s. The one thing common to us
all was our interest in the fields of Computer
Science and Communications. On Day One, we
were given a brief overview of the selection
procedure. The first two days were meant to open
us up so that we would be able to freely talk
during the interview. On Day Two, we were
taken for a tour of the ISAC, the ISRO satellite
activity centre. There was a lot of activity
there as two satellites (the CARTOSAT-1 and
HAMSAT) had been launched by the PSLV-C6 on the
previous day and so satellite tracking was in
progress. Dr Kalam had also been there the
previous day. The entire campus was a high
security area and so cameras, electronics, discs
etc were not allowed. Some of us successfully
managed to set off a few alarms by forgetting to
swipe the ID cards issued to us. We were
shown around several areas there and were able to
interact with scientists specializing in a
variety of areas varying from cryptography to
propulsion. We were divided into three groups of
four students. Each group had to make a
presentation on some innovative use of
satellites. We were given plenty of material on
the satellites launched by the ISRO which gave us
some idea of the cost weight ratio, features
available using various sensors and so on.
Day Three started with the presentations. The
three groups presented
33
their proposals. The focus areas were global
communication systems, industrial planning etc.
Each presentation lasted about fifteen minutes.
The audience consisted of most of the senior
scientists at the ISRO, including the Director.
We then had a buffet lunch which was
followed by the interviews. There panelists
included the director of ISRO, a senior scientist
at the ISRO, a country partner of the
International Institute for Education (who was
the Program Coordinator) and the CEO of Force
Computers (now acquired by Motorola). The
questions asked in the interview varied in
nature. Some questions were to judge how well we
knew our respective fields of interest (from
cryptography to networks to AI to astronomy).
Others tested the breadth of our knowledge. The
questions weren't just academic. For example,
they asked us to name the novel that we had read
last and then asked us to analyze some character
in the story. The three day experience
included plenty of time for interaction and it
was nice to compare notes on colleges, our areas
of interest and so on. There was a Pizza Hut
place just outside the ISRO and so we went there
a few times for our meals. The three days
were basically a smaller version of the (main)
Global Scholars Summit. The link to a write-up on
the main Summit is available here
(http//www.cse.iitk.ac.in/news/cherian.html)
34
It was a cool August night, and I had just
begun to settle into my own as a student of IIT
Kanpur. And at this particular hour of 1 (at
which it is very unnatural for me to stay awake)
I was busy wrestling with an essay which was
supposed to be on Piyush Srivastava (well, that's
my name), but more pertinent was the fact that it
was supposed to be my scholarship essay for the
Aditya Birla Scholarship. In my very first
days at IIT(read the period of 'informal
introduction') I had been told that provided one
was keen enough one could always get a good
scholarship here. I had also been told that the
first chance of getting one would come in my very
first month at the institute only .And so it was.
It was one of those weary evenings after the
afternoon lectures that I was scanning the Hall 2
notice-board when I found a list of names of
students who were supposed to apply for the
Aditya Birla Scholarship .I took the object
oriented approach of not caring a penny about how
the list was generated and as instru
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