Tuesday, May 31, 2005

keeping your cards close to your chest

An engineering student today is faced with an unprecedented glut of information. The number of journals have gone up exponentially, the number of luminaries-double exponentially and most important, every possible use of a device, mode of operation has been anlaysed with such rigour that a new discovery is well nigh impossible unless you are the next Narain Hingorani (the father of FACTS).
The first difficulty that a student (undergraduate or graduate) faces is the problem selection itself. As mentioned above, most of the matter has been dissected to the atomic level and if one wants to move on to the sub atomic level, thats when you begin to encounter the Fermisms, Hiesenbergisms, Schroedingerisms, Diracisms etc. Since most of us have the degree as the first priority (obvious dude, if you go after the research paper very very aggressively, you end up screwing up both your degree and the paper) implementing what some other fellow engineer in some corner of the world has done becomes an acceptable research activity. Well, I don't see any mistake in that because for one, it hones your reengineering skills which may prove useful if you get into the war ship, battle tank and war aircraft building industry of a country like India. Secondly, there is an infinetisimal probability of finding a mistake in the 'parent implementation' which gives a great opportunity to publish a research paper yourself and in the bargain going up a few notches in the eyes of the professors.
Lets say that the problem has been selected. The next problem is sifting through your literature survey. Sources are many and the same information can be presented in slightly different forms in different journals (something similar to two similar loads on the power grid at different times of the day, something we call diversity of the load). The next stages would be to choose a paper for implementation, run your simulation and if you are game, go ahead with the hardware implementation.
The focus of this blog is on the problem of deciphering what is in the paper. This has become a problem only recently. This is because the latest trend in todays world is to hide as much information as possible, let the other guy break his head and yet gain recognition. This is reflected in some typical instances like when an author claims that such and such a simulation has been run but has cleverly omitted the value of the circuit parameters, control settings etc. Some may argue that this is necessary to maintain intellectual rights but I say that the intellectual rights have already been granted when the paper has been published. And I dont believe that the publishers of such journals are such villains so as to tag on their name or worse substitute your name with theirs.
This was unlike the open 1960s where you will find that the papers are crystal clear and the desire of the author to pass on knowledge is clearly seen. The best example of this would be "The Transmission and Distribution Handbook" by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Westinghouse had a status similar to what a GE (general Electric) or a TI (Texas Instruments)or an Intel has today. They could easily have hushed up the trends in transmission and distribution and made mega bucks. But they chose to publish their experiences and in the process helped an entire generation of Electrical Engineers.
I leave this as food for thought for you, dear readers (if this humble effort does have readers). I rest my case by saying that "In the older days, people were less selfish and hence society grew, now they play for only themselves to win". This is why the society of today is stagnating!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

a journey to 'chambal'

yesterday being a sunday (guys, i am writing with reference to IST), it was an opportunity to break away from my dull, dreary routine and head out to have fun with friends. One of my pals from IIM Lucknow, Rajesh who is currently into his last week of summer training at Rohtak, my pals in TCS - Chetak and ishan, my pal from Sandvik Sanam, and my pal from Lexorbis, Sunil (Dipsy) and of course myself had a get together at Hotel Saravana Bhawan, Connaught Place (CP).
Saravana Bhawan (SB) is a well known brand name down south in Tamil Nadu.(at least thats what i have heard, having lived in bangalore/surathkal for nearly 20 years, i know of only udupi hotels).
With such a solid reputation inscribed in its name, we decided to give the 'neo-rich' establishments of gurgaon a skip and try out some classic south indian menu. The initial entry into SB was mouth watering indeed. Having been used to mess food/self cooked food/company canteen food for days together, we were dying to have a bite at the temple of S Indian food. Our first shock was the way he rava idlis turned out to be. they were pretty bad, lacking the 'zing' that a steaming hot idli should ideally give you. The next shocker was the bland tasting masala dosa which had a very very poor masala content (in fact i should say none). Down south this guy would have been skinned alive for even daring to think of such a preparation. Then what followed was South Indian paranthas, the size of marie biscuits. all that i can say at this moment is:
all i want is english marie
oh! so english! the real marie!
crispy, crunchy ooooh!!!
This ladies and gentlemen was 'twilight' robbery. It felt as if I was naked in the Chambal valley having been robbed off all my belongings. The conclusions that I could draw from this was that SB is making a fool out of people in Delhi taking advantage of either their ignorance of south indian food (ppl who fall into this category: N Indians) or their desperation for S Indian food (the case with expatriate S Indians). Whatever it is, SB is one place that will never be patronised by me.

Friday, May 13, 2005


its a sense of relief for every student, whatever class he/she may be when exams come to an end. its like as if the world has been lifted off atlas' shoulders.
this blog is an interesting opportunity to analyse the examination system of IIT Delhi. The evaluation is spread out over the entire semester. the general pattern is 2 minor tests, 1 main test. the professor can make up the total with these itself or he can provide some weightage for assignments or quizzes etc. this is an impressive scheme. u have to be on ur toes all the semester. no flash in the pan efforts. but the flip side isthat if u slip even once then its going to be really tough to get back. this is the grouse that student's normally nurse against this system. but having lived life in the student lane i must say that the students waste time throughout the semester and end up losing sleep and health towards the end. infact there is lot of time for extra curricular activities too. a bit of moderation would help in the long run.
all said and done what i just said is not going to be practised even by me. just hoping that someone follows it and tells me the result.