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E miracle


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E miracle

  1. 3. 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 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
  2. 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
  3. 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 didn’t 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.
  4. 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 Holmes’s 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-
  5. 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 doesn’t 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
  6. 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
  7. 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 9–55, 1987. 2. R. Koppl and J. B. Rosser. All That I Have to Say Has Already Crossed Your Mind. In Metroeconomica, vol. 53, pages 339–360, 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.
  8. 10. Vyom Kumar Kumar is in the 1 st 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 1:10 pm .Lunch break and then, on most occasions, a quiz at 2:30pm. 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!
  9. 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 1:10 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 couldn’t give much time for preparation apart from taking the test, on an average, twice a week.
  10. 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 shouldn’t 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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 : 99.99%ile 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.
  11. 13. EM : Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line? VKG : That’s 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!
  12. 14. Rachna Agarwal is a 4 th 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.
  13. 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 didn’t. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. 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 .
  17. 19. <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>A few of the projects that club members have successfully completed are: </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>3D Renderer : Inspired by 3dsmax, this application surpasses the latter by incorporating certain natural features like dispersion which no 3D renderer available does. </li></ul><ul><li>Speech and Handwriting recognition . </li></ul>
  18. 20. <ul><li>Proxy Jumping : This application can be used to connect to the intra-IIT LAN from a computer outside the LAN. </li></ul><ul><li>Some regular course projects which have been made in .NET are: </li></ul><ul><li>C# Compiler : As a part of the Compilers course. </li></ul><ul><li>J# Compiler : As a part of the Compilers course. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Prateek Singhal & </li></ul><ul><li>Siddharth Jain </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinators, .NET Club </li></ul>
  19. 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 (don’t 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 Delhi’s 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:
  20. 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 it’s 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.
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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 [email_address] 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 IIT’s are.
  24. 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 [email_address]
  25. 27. Prologue I see him there now, alone on the sea, With tears in his eyes, he seems so unfree. He doesn’t seem like the person I once knew, It’s 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, he’s looking the other way. As I reach out for him, I realize I don’t 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. . Don’t look at the reflections from the past, Don’t try to remember the memories that are dying fast. Please don’t 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. Don’t ruin it all just trying to appease, The guy you saw crying alone on the seas.
  26. 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. It’s the unexplainable joy that came his way, That even years of despair couldn’t take away, And it’s 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 I’ll 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 can’t let her know, it’ll be too much. There’s 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.
  27. 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 &quot;feelers&quot;. You might be wondering how to recognize a &quot;feeler&quot;? 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 &quot;feeler&quot;. 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 &quot;feeler&quot; 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
  28. 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: &quot;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.“
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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 (
  32. 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 instructed in the notice, found myself in the DOSA office the following day, finding out what exactly had to be done and the “whos and hows” of where to get help from. Who on earth, I thought, would find writing two essays 'hard' especially if the essays were to be written on one's own personality and aspirations, and then what was the use of giving us so many choices for getting assistance? But, indeed, it dawned on me as soon as I started on the job that nothing could be farther from the truth. I had indeed contracted an ordeal worth dreading .I realised how little I knew about myself and such is the chronicle of why I was wrestling with the essay, on a cool August night, at the spooky hour of 1(which, I have since learnt was not as spooky as I then thought: IITians seem to have evolved into a nocturnal species.) It is in such situations of distress that the much advertised 'benefit' of living in the same hostel as your seniors dawns on you in all it's might. So it did on me. The very next evening I found myself a storey above my room ,with Shubham Gupta (who had bagged the scholarship last year). Now began a series of tutorials at the end of which I submitted my essays ,exactly (cue, drums and applause....) 5 minutes before the deadline. Now came upon me the odious task of waiting for the results. But it was not so odious after all. After a few days (and also after having read a couple of masterpieces that had been submitted ) I had lost all hopes of qualifying,.
  33. 35. and had given myself into the daily grind : so much so that days passed before a single thought about the scholarship came into my head. A significant contribution to this came from my wonderful (read 5/10) score in a test. But, The Powers that Be would have me in for more work. So when I opened my mailbox on one of those days (without any apprehensions , of course) ,I was greeted with a message from the Aditya Birla Group informing me that I had been selected for the interview, to be held at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower , Bombay, a fortnight after the date of the message. Then started serious preparations for the grand finale. A mock interview was held, for which senior members of the faculty took time out of their busy schedules to help the five of us (Apart from me, Ankur Bhartiya from CSE, Utkarsh Upadhyaya from the department of Electrical Engineering, Pramod Kumar Sharma from the department of Civil Engineering and Shraddha Katiyar from the department of Chemical Engineering represented the Institute at the final interview.) do our best at the interview. I do not know for the others but had such help not been extended to me by them and also by the seniors who had received the scholarship in the previous years, I would not have been able to face the board at all. With Professor Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (Director, TIFR), Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, Director General - Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and Secretary - Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India and Dr. Guillermo Wille, Managing Director - John F. Welch Technology Centre, and especially if you proposed to tell them that your interest lay in the field of Quantum computing and Theoretical Computer Science, you could never feel at ease. I am so glad I didn't know everything about the string of accolades attached to the names of each of them: knowing them would have been enough to psyche me out. After having been sufficiently put off with talking to my competitors from other participating institutes, I returned to my room about an hour after sunset, to find that my roommate was to be a first semester student from IIM Bangalore. After introducing ourselves to each other we had a short chat on the interview scheduled for the next day , at the end of which I felt too sick and started brushing up whatever I knew about Quantum computing and Theoretical computer Science .
  34. 36. It was exactly at 12 noon (within an uncertainty of 5 minutes, of course) when I entered the “Judge’s chamber “and exactly at 12: 20 that I came out. What had happened inside had left me utterly disappointed. I could definitely have done better. The interview had started with a question by Professor Bhattacharya about why I chose Computer Science instead of Physics and had then proceeded on to some questions on the nature of a blackbody, branching thereafter to questions about the use to which computing can be put to in the areas of space research . So, when I came out, I thought that the only gain that I had made was having talked to some highly respected scientists. That evening I saw the sun set beneath (if I may be allowed to use the expression) the Arabian Sea before proceeding on to the hall where the “Aditya Birla Scholars ,Class of 2005” were to be announced ,and to which (believe it or not) all of us had been formally invited. The most enjoyable parts of the programme definitely were the speeches by the dignified judges, however they were somewhat marred by the butterflies in our stomachs. And then came the D-moment. “The results are to be announced now by.......” (I could not properly get the remaining words :such was the excitement felt by somebody who had not even a tinge of hope .One can't possibly imagine the condition of those who had). And a most unexpected event did happen : after four names which preceded it lexicographically , the fifth name was announced , and it was Piyush Srivastava which (as I asserted in the beginning ) happens to be the name of the humble narrator of this boring narrative.
  35. 37. Game theory is the analysis of the decision making process when there are more than one decision makers, and each agent's payoff possibly depends on the action taken by the other agents. It is predominantly a branch of applied mathematics and economics, however it has found considerable applications in politics, evolutionary biology, philosophy and in recent years, computer science as well. Formally, in an n player game, each player can choose among a set of moves available to it and depending upon the moves chosen by the players, each player receives some payoff. For example, consider the classic prisoner's dilemma which is a 2 player game, shown below. When both the players cooperate, they are awarded at an equal but intermediate level (the reward, R). When only one player defects, he receives the highest possible payoff (the temptation, T) while the other player gets the sucker's payoff (the sucker, S). When both the players defect, they receive and intermediate penalty (the penalty, P).
  36. 38. Several interesting properties of the game can be immediately observed. It can be seen that this is a non zero sum game (that is, the sum of the payoffs of the two players is not always a constant), and hence there is no single universal strategy which will work for all game plays for a player. In a one shot game, both the players will choose Defect (i.e. (D;D)), be- cause this move is guaranteed to maximize the payoff of the player no matter what his opponent chooses. However, it can be seen that both the players would have been better o choosing to cooperate with each other (hence the dilemma). In game theory, the move (D;D) of the players in prisoner's dilemma is termed as a Nash Equilibrium, which is a steady state of the game in which no player has an incentive to shift from its strategy. In 1950, John Nash proved a remarkable theorem that any n-player game has a Nash Equilibrium, when randomization in choosing the moves is permitted. However, as it is clear from the prisoner's dilemma game, a Nash Equilibrium may not necessarily be the social optimum. This can give rise to several interesting situations, as we will see later. Further, there can be more than one Nash equilibrium in a given game (in some cases, this number can be infinite). There has been a fruitful interaction between game theory and computer science over the past several decades. Incidentally, the foundation of game theory was laid down by von Neumann, who had also proposed the architecture that is employed in modern day computers. The use of game theoretic ideas in computer science is not new. Many proof techniques in theoretical computer science can be viewed as a game between two players. For example, the pumping lemma that is used for proving that a particular language is not regular can be viewed as a game between the prover and an adversary. Such proof techniques are also used in automata theory, verification of cryptographic protocols and security and proving lower bounds of algorithms. On the other hand, game theory has also benefited from computer science, for example in formalizing algorithms and strategies for game playing, learning in games, and computation of equilibria in games. However, this interaction has really exploded in recent years [2]. Game theory has found many new important applications in computer science, most important being routing in networks, design of optimal networks and in distributed computing. The Internet is not controlled by any central authority,.
  37. 39. but by many large and small entities, who collaborate together to achieve the desired performance of the network. It is reasonable to assume that each entity in the network acts selfishly. For example, suppose that an agent on the network has to rout a packet across the network, then it will try to route the packet in such a way that the latency in sending the packet to its destination is minimized. Thus the whole of the network can be seen as a game among the different agents using the network who act selfishly to achieve the best performance from their own point of view. However, as we have seen earlier, this selfish behavior may not necessarily lead to optimal performance of the whole system. A simple example will suffice to show how performance degradation can occur in network due to selfish behavior. The example presented here is well known in game theory literature as the Braess' paradox [3]. Consider the network given in Figure 2. In this network, there are several packets to be transferred from node s to node t. The paths along which the packets can be routed are shown by directed edges, and the function beside each edge denotes the average latency (in seconds) in transferring the packet along that edge, where x is the fraction of total packets being routed along that edge. For example, if 1=2 the packets are being routed along the edge from s to u, the average latency experienced by a packet along that edge is 1=2s, while along the edge from u to t is 1s (i.e. it is a constant, irrespective of the fraction of the packets being routed along that edge). Suppose that there are many packets to be transferred from
  38. 40. s to t. Due to symmetry of the network, at equilibrium half the packets will be transferred along the upper path of the network and half along the lower path. In this scenario, the average latency of each packet is 1=2+1 s, i.e. 1:5 s. One can see that this is also the global optimal latency. Now suppose that in an eort to improve the performance of the network, an extra high speed path from u to v is added to the network shown in Figure 3. Any packet routed along this path experiences zero latency. Therefore in this network, at equilibrium, all the packets get routed along the path s -> u -> v -> T in the expectation that each packet experiences minimum latency. However, if all the packets are routed along this path, the average latency experienced by each packet will be 2s, which is more than that in the previous case (1:5s)! Thus, the obvious way of adding an extra path in the network to improve its performance does not necessarily lead to desired results.
  39. 41. Note that the optimal routing in this network is to rout half the packets along the upper path and half along the lower path (as in the previous case). In optimal routing, the average latency experienced by each packet is 1:5, thus the equilibrium outcome is worse by a ratio of 2=1:5, i.e. 4=3. This ratio is commonly termed as the Price of Anarchy [1]. Due to limited bandwidth of the Internet, and the way the Internet is operated today, we might be paying a very high price anarchy due to selfish behavior of the users of the Internet. Game theoretic ideas have been found useful in analyzing the behavior of networks and in designing optimal networks. In distributed systems, where a number of agents may be competing for scarce resources, the interaction can be modeled as a multi player game and then analyzed for any bottlenecks that may come up in the distributed setting. On the algorithmic side, the problem of finding equilibria in a multi player game is a peculiar one and there has been a lot of work on finding the computational complexity of this problem. Recent works have shown that this problem to be PPAD-complete for 3 and 4 player games. In the words of Papadimitriou [2], The complexity of finding a Nash Equilibrium is in my opinion the most important concrete open problems on the boundary of P today&quot;. Thus, there is a great scope for doing exciting research in game theory, both from application as well as theoretical point of view. The affair of game theory with computer science has begun only now, and in future many more breakthroughs are likely to come up in this field. References [1] E. Koutsoupias and C.H. Papadimitriou. “Worst-case equilibria&quot;. In Proceedings of Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Computer Science (STACS), 1998. [2] C. H. Papadimitriou. Algorithms, Games and Internet&quot;. In Proceedings of ACM Symposium on Theory of Computation (STOC), 2001. [3] T. Roughgarden. Selsh Routing, PhD Thesis, Cornell University, 2002. Available online at
  40. 42. My name is Philippe Ouellet and I am an exchange student in CSE B.Tech. This article has as goal to present myself a little bit and talk a little about some differences I have seen between my country and India. I come from Canada, from the province of Quebec. What most people do not know about Canada is that we have two official languages: English and French, while Quebec's official language is French which also happens to be my mother tongue. That is one of the reasons why I sometime have difficulty in understanding and speaking English. I already have a college level diploma in computer science and my field of study as a bachelor is software engineering. I chose India as my exchange country, because I wanted to have an experience in a different kind of environment than Canada. I am aware of the fact that two third of the world lives in poverty, only because they weren't born in a developed country. By going to a developing country, I want to see how people live. Another reason for coming to India, is to improve my English skills. Moreover, India has a good reputation in Software Engineering and an experience in India may be well seen by a future employer. I am not sure of the real number, but I heard that there are 28 enterprises in the world rated CMM 5, the best rating of the maturity level in software engineering which is a model of productivity and quality, around 13 of them are in India. Another fact concerning computer science and India is that a lot of jobs are moving from America to India, because Indians are good and cost less. In Canada, we can't train enough engineers to fulfill demands of the ever growing software industry while the competition to get a job is really hard in India. As a consequence of this, I find that the spirit of learning is not very common in my university. Students tend to focus only on what is necessary, without caring whether they understand or not. On the other hand, an Indian student has to surpass his peers by doing extra work and joining students clubs in order to have the chance of getting a job. This article is based on my own assumptions and analysis. If you wish to discuss about it, I will be more than pleased to do so. My website with texts in French and photos of my trip in India can be accessed at ( [email_address] )
  41. 43. Campus placements in IIT have started on 21’st and google was the one of the companies which came on the first day. Having come back from home a day earlier I had literally no time to prepare myself for the interview and I actually went to give the tests with the hangover of coming back from home in Visakhapatnam after a one and a half day long train journey. It all began with a written test for the short listed candidates. There were two sections of the test. The first section comprised of a multiple choice section and the other asked us to code up a function involving polynomial multiplication modulo another polynomial in C. The test was rather simple with problems taken from combinatorics, algorithms and C++(yes C++ and not C or Java!!). There were these questions on C++ involving inheritance constructors and destructors, etc. We were asked to finish the first section in 30 mins and the second in 45 mins but I managed to finish both of them well before the time and was the first to walk out of the room with a feeling of having done reasonably well( Later I was told that I had scored highest in both the sections). We were told to fill up a form while we waited for a list of candidates who will go on for a round of interviews. Eight candidates, 7 B techs and 1 dual degree were selected for the second round. An hour remaining before the first round of interviews to start we dispersed for lunch. The interviews were to take place in 2 sessions, 4 people at once. We were told there would be four rounds of one to one technical interviews. Being my first ever interview of this kind I was rather nervous, but I soon was comfortable when the interviews actually started. Round 1: The first person who interviewed me was working in Google labs at Mountain View in the area of improving the search technology. Having introduced herself and asking me about my areas of interest, project and summer internship work she proceeded on to give me a problem essentially involving topological sorting of graphs. I was then asked to come up with the algorithm and then code it up in the language of my choice. I was able to do it with a simple algorithm which has higher complexity than the one which can be done via DFS which I was not able to recall exactly. Each round of interview was supposed to last for 45 minutes but we had some time to spare, so she told me more about the work in Google and what she was doing etc, ending on a happy note.
  42. 44. Round 2: This person was working in Google Bangalore on Ad Sense involving managing advertising on Google pages, essentially the way Google makes money! Having introduced himself and asking a few more questions about my courses and projects he went on the Q&A session. There was this question where, given n points we are to find the set of all collinear points. I began with the trivial O(n^3) algo. Then went on to suggest an improvement by dualysing the problem which can be done in O(n^2logn) and further improving it O(n^2).He told me we cannot do better than O(n^2) but he had a different solution in mind using hashing. Then he asked me another question involving displaying a binary image represented in as a byte array which I had to code it up using bit shift operators. Almost nearing the end of 45 minutes, he asked me if I had any questions. I asked a few things about the work at Google etc before he left. 2 down 2 to go!!!...I went outside to have a glass of water during the 10 minutes break between rounds! Phew! Round 3: This person was also working in the same group as the previous one at Bangalore. By now I was pretty much used to the process. The Q&A began with a question on how to sort numbers whose range is known which can be done in O(n) (radix sort) and the usual question on why it can’t be done on general data. Then he asked me to design a stack which supports the operations min, pop, push and top operations each in constant time. I was not able to come up with a solution immediately but eventually after he gave me a hint, I was able to solve it. He then asked me another question to find a loop in a linked list. I gave him a solution requiring O(n) space and O(n) time but there was a clever solution using 2 variable speed pointers which can be done in O(n) time and constant space. Later I found that these questions were standard ones asked in interviews but I had no preparation u see! Nearing the end of time we discussed more about life in Google and about his career. By now I was pretty impressed by the work culture at Google. Round 4: This person was quite strange. The first thing he did was to come into the room and locate a plug point where he could plug in his laptop. He just came in and gave me a cold handshake and hardly introduced himself. He just came in and gave me a cold handshake and hardly introduced himself. He just asked me code up the printf in C! and resumed his all so important work
  43. 45. on his laptop. I was not clear of the question, so asked him for some more details. He told me you can change access the program stack(I didn’t know u can do that in C!!) and assume some calls like read, write etc already implemented. I finally managed to write a stripped down version of the printf. Then he asked me to code up inorder traversal of a BTree without recursion, which can be implemented using a stack to essentially simulating the recursion. Finally I handed him all the paper work and he asked me if I had any question. I had none. With all rounds done, some HR representative told me that they will try to announce the results within a day and thanked me. As I left I saw the apprehensive and eager looks of the four other people waiting for their 3 and half hour interview sessions but I was not allowed to interact with them! Google offered me the job the next day along with Shashi and Nitesh. Later Rachna and Kumar Abhishek also got the offers. Google HR told me that I was the first person whom Google gave an on the spot offer. Job on day one...couldn’t get any better. Party time!!!
  44. 46. Avnish Bajaj is the former former CEO of He did his B .Tech. in CSE from IIT Kanpur; MS from Standford University, USA and MBA from Harvard Business School, USA. On his recent visit to IIT Kanpur, Avnish Bajaj spared some of his precious time to give an interview. Here are a few excerpts from his interview. EM : How does it feel to be back at IIT Kanpur after 13 years? AB : Well it feels really great, a bit nostalgic. Nothing much has changed here, the buildings, the department, and the faculty. So many fond memories come back. After all ‘those were the best days of my life’. I actually feel a bit humble interacting with the professors again; after all they played a big part in shaping my career. EM : What have been your sweetest and most bitter memories of your stay here? AB : The sweetest memories have to be the late night ‘bulla’ sessions with wing mates, celebrating parties after graduation. I particularly remember watching ‘TEZAAB’ at ‘Gurudev’ and returning at 3-4 in the morning by the ‘Prayagraj Express’. There are no bitter memories, though the only regret I have is that I should have spent a bit more time on non-academic matters such as sports and cultural activities which go a long way in developing EQ (Experience Quotient). EM : What are your views on the present scenario of brain drain? AB : Well the scenario is definitely changing. It is not yet optimistic but the conditions are definitely improving. A lot of people are coming back. And the scope back here at home are also improving with the onset of so many MNCs.The number of IIT graduates coming back after studying abroad is really amazing. IIT people tend to think conventionally. Talent is very much there. But the times are different and the needs are also changing. EM : Most of the students studying here at IIT are confused whether to pursue MBA or MS. You have done both. What is your take on that? AB : See, if you really want to go for entrepreneurship and you have the ideas, there is no point going for MS. I did it as I initially wanted to continue with software engineering. MBA came up as an afterthought. And it is best to do MBA after getting a job experience of 2-3 years. Don’t rush into it. The experience really helps you in the long term.
  45. 47. EM : Any message for the future generation? AB : Firstly, don’t try to solve a problem which is not there. Don’t invent mousetraps for yourself. Think straight and think clearly. As technologists we have a tendency to solve complex problems and often we end up making a simple situation complex. Secondly, follow your heart. Sometimes you tend to agonize over your decision. But many times, 10 years down the line those things don’t matter at all. Live life to its fullest and never cry over spilled milk. Life is too short to repent. Think long term and don’t let short term failures disappoint you. They really don’t matter in the long run. And lastly, set high goals for yourselves, because you can’t achieve high unless you aim high. It doesn’t matter if you fail to succeed as long you put in your best. Keep on working towards your aim but never worry about the end result. As told to : Nilendu, Saumyadeep and Mohit
  46. 48. Disclaimer: The following are my personal views on this matter and do not reflect upon official views that may be held on this topic Computer Science and Engineering. That’s what we all are studying. That is the name of our department here at IIT Kanpur. But if you have come across webpages of other universities, mostly the US universities (especially during the apping procedures), you might have noticed that few universities actually have separate units for Computer Science and for Computer Engineering (or Electrical and Computer Engineering). Infact, you would sometimes find Computer Science under the Science stream and Computer Engineering under the Engineering stream. Are they so very apart ? Yes and no. Engineering is sometimes defined as application of science to the design, construction, analysis and use of machines. So, in some sense, we can easily see the dependence between the two. The two units obviously have a lot in common and overlap considerably. The basic difference is that Computer Science has its focus on computer software whereas Computer Engineering focuses more on computer hardware. Coming to the realm of computers, Computer Hardware is the physical computer and its design. Thus Computer Engineering deals with the fundamentals of computer design. Computer software refers to the programs that make enable the functionality of the hardware. In layman’s terms, Science is something that studies what is already present and finds the governing principles behind it. Engineering has more to do with applications of science. Computer Science is concerned with efficient application of computers through the design of efficient algorithms (the methods used to process information) and data structures (the ways in which information is organized and stored). There is a greater emphasis on the exploration of new services
  47. 49. that computers can provide such as virtual-reality user interfaces. A Computer Scientist would spend a lot of time and developing code and testing it. In contrast, Computer Engineering deals with the practical details of the application of computer technology. That is, practical details of Computer Science. Computer Engineering is an integration of the broad knowledge of programming and electronics, coupled with specialist skills in software and hardware interfacing. A Computer Engineer would spend considerable time in learning and testing computer subsystems and their functionality. Computer Engineering makes Computer Science ideas come alive in the real world. But again, without Computer Science, Computer Engineering wouldn’t be that beneficial. Their interdependence on one another is also clearly reflected by their common sub-fields such as Computer Architecture, Networks, Information Storage and Management etc. They have their differences in subfields too. Mathematics is heavily employed in Computer Science but is hardly ever used in Computer Engineering except maybe for the use of the Number System and the sorts. Electronics and Electrical Engineering ideas are almost always employed in Computer Engineering but do not find a place with Computer Science. So, in a few ways, Computer Science and Computer Engineering are different yet their interdependence and common subfields make them appear as one unit. Their separation into two units, I presume, is totally on the basis of the ease of handling two fragments as opposed to one whole unit. References: 1. 2. 3.
  48. 50. Editor : Deeptanshu Shukla Design and layout : Vidyut Ghosal and Rahul Tewari ACA Team : President Deeptanshu Shukla Finance coordinators Varun Khaneja and Rohit Gupta General Secretary Abhinav Jain Website and Newsletter Secretaries Cherian Varkey Mathew and Nishith Khantal Cultural Secretaries Siddharth Sodhani and Mohit Bansal Finance Secretary Tarun Verma