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Quotes From Here And There

Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
Dylan Thomas
I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
Eddie Cantor
It takes twenty years to become an overnight success.
Edward Abbey
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
e e cummings
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting.
Eyler Coates
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Without music, life would be a mistake.
Gustave Flaubert
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
Going to the Opera is like making love; we get bored but we come back.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If I love you, what business is it of yours?
John Steinbeck
Only through imitation do we develop toward originality.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring;
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
Paul Sweeney
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Peter Altenberg
I never dreamed of being Shakespeare or Goethe, and I never expected to hold the great mirror of truth up before the world; I dreamed only of being a little pocket mirror, the sort that a woman can carry in her purse; one that reflects small blemishes, and some great beauties, when held close enough to the heart.
Robert Frost
In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money.
Satchel Paige
Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
Thomas Mann
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
V S Naipaul
The writer has only to listen very carefully and with a clear heart to what people say to him, and ask the next question, and the next.

My Personal Library

Advice For People Considering CSE, IIT Bombay

Update (28 September 2011):

From recent personal experience, some of my statements about placements in this blog are not true. Some of the consulting/finance/other-rubbish profiles are off-limits for graduate students even before any elimination rounds are conducted. Hence, if you are an ambitious careerist interested in being in the industry after your graduate studies and have admits from IIMs or good US/European universities, you might want to give IIT Bombay a miss for greener pastures. After almost a year and a half at IIT Bombay, I have realized that the institution is good only for academic rigor and some of the amazing professors that teach here (my favorites here). Such professors are exceptions to the norm but the situation might be better than anywhere else in the country.

The administration is thoroughly Indian; it sucks as usual. One of the amazing professors I mentioned in the earlier paragraph (Prof. Soumen Chakrabarti whose work has been cited in the PageRank/Google paper http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html) put up the following description of his 'Web Search and Mining' course on IIT Bombay's Course Management System: 'Main building still knows this course by the mouthful "Information Retrieval and Mining for Hypertext and the Web" in spite of requesting them to change the title over five times.'

Recently, there was a major case of food poisoning in three of the hostels affecting more than 1000 people in all, and nobody has taken up even moral responsibility for the fiasco! The concerned caterer has been fired and a new caterer will take his place this semester.


A query I received recently about studying at CSE, IIT Bombay:-

Dear Abhinav,

My name is Axxxx and I just got an AIR of 44 in GATE 2011 which means that I will probably get into the MTech CSE at IIT Bombay. I got your contact off the IIT website and I was wondering if you could help me out by sharing some of your experience. Your profile seemed interesting and I know I can trust somebody who gets XKCD.

So, how do you find the course compared to your BE at VJTI? (I'm from TSEC and really need a change in the level of teaching standards). What about life at IIT campus? And do you know anything about the placements scenario for MTech students? Is it on par with the BTech placements or is it not that good? I have an offer from Oxford University but I'm probably declining it as the UK visa rules are getting extremely annoying for anybody who wishes to gain work experience after their degree there (plus its bloody expensive!).

Anything that you can tell me will really help me in making this decision (IIT vs Oxford) better for me...

Regards,A B

My response to the query:-

I think I will set out the reasons for my decision to come to IIT Bombay. You must evaluate your situation, opportunities, and inclinations to come to your own decision.

I am fairly certain that I will end up either in academia, an R&D lab, or doing a startup. I joined IIT Bombay because I needed a stronger background to pursue a PhD, both in terms of my technical soundness and the reputation of the institution I was going to study at. I had admits from Uppsala for technical masters, and IIM Lucknow and Kozhikode for MBA, besides the IIT admits. I chose IIT Bombay because I was sure I would eventually get bored with standard management stuff (is that really work?), and (surprise, surprise!) I still liked CSE after I graduated from VJTI. I haven't really regretted my decision so far. IIT Bombay provides fabulous facilities and a beautiful campus, and is about an hour from my home.

VJTI, the institution where I spent my undergrad days didn't have a research culture to speak of. I don't really remember any worthwhile professors or well-taught subjects. In short, my undergrad education would amount to zilch for a person looking for rigorous foundations. Consequently, the difference between the UG/PG quality of education has been immense for me. At IIT Bombay, I have been taught and guided by some really great professors; some of them are forerunners in their particular areas of research. Prof. Bhaskar Raman (Systems and Networks) and Prof. Sunita Sarawagi (Machine Learning and Data Mining) are my personal favorites. Prof. Soumen Chakrabarti is also highly regarded and really knowledgeable, but he did not click with me.

The graduate intake at CSE, IIT Bombay is much larger compared to other IITs. This is a good thing, because it leads to bigger research groups and you almost always have people who share similar research interests. It's a bad thing, because the class sizes increase beyond the desirable graduate class size (maximum ~20-30), leading to lesser attention of professors to each individual student. For better or for worse, the competition for getting into research groups and working under good guides also increases.

Also, IIT Bombay has a much more vibrant social life than other places like IISc and other IITs. It has great placements and a good reputation in case one wants to pursue research further. As far as I know, IIT Bombay has had good placements, but individual preparation and commitment are better indicators of the quality of placements one lands up with rather than past statistics. From hearsay, the placement opportunities for MTech guys are at par with those for BTech guys except for some selective I-banks.

Correspondent's subsequent reply:-
Dear Abhinav,

Thanks for all that information. The one big factor for me wanting to choose IIT over Oxford was that there is very less research activity on distributed systems and machine learning at Oxford (they focus more on theoretical issues of computer science) but I found quite a few active projects at IIT. The only doubt in my mind was whether the MTech degree was good enough or not.

I have seriously been encouraged to go for IIT after hearing your story (and that of a couple of others). For some reason, I had an ill-formed view that MTech at IIT was inferior to the BTech degree (probably wrong feedback from some IIT undergrads).

I had read Prof. Raman's web pages before, and some faculty in my college were telling me about one Prof. Kavi Arya as well. Knowing that professors like these will be teaching us is really exciting.

I'll hope to meet you in a few months then (assuming of course that I get direct admission)... Good luck with your exams and stuff!

Thanks again.


My subsequent response:-
Hi Axxxx,
Due to lower competition, the quality of MTech batches in most departments at IITs is lower than BTech batches. That does lead to the currently prevalent perceptions.
However, for CSE, the keen competition does lead to a pretty decent batch, at least at IIT Bombay. I know of seniors who have been placed in Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Credit Suisse, etc. or have gone to decent universities like CMU, UMD, etc. for their PhD. It really depends on the individual caliber of the student.
There is a difference between the BTech and MTech batches, because the BTechs receive rigorous training in fundamentals for four years. More importantly, BTechs have healthier attitudes toward learning and often ask a lot of questions in a class making it interactive and worthwhile. These are differences that cannot be wished away, but which many MTechs overcome through their first semester.
Regarding admissions, you most certainly will get a direct admit to IIT Bombay with AIR 44. Apply to two other IITs of your choice as a backup. I applied to all of them and never had to bother with admits from the other IITs.

Abhinav Maurya

Advice for new matriculants:-

Hi All,

I hope you have settled well @ IIT Bombay. To those of you who contacted me earlier, my apologies for not having met you until now due to some other commitments.

The first semester at our department is a very hectic and important one. In most of the cases, performance in subjects of the first semester determines your seminar in the second semester, which usually leads to an MTP in the second year. The topic of your seminar and MTP need not be the same. So, the plan usually is exploration of CSE research areas and groups in the first semester, and consolidation/taking advanced courses in the second semester, finishing with the grand MTP later. In conclusion, your choice of courses now decides much of what you will be doing at IIT Bombay. So, please consider your choice carefully by attending as many lectures as possible until the registration closes.

Though there is the possibility of taking up seminar in the first semester, it is conventionally taken up by students in the second semester. This gives you a semester to familiarize yourself with the flavor of CSE research carried out at IIT Bombay.

Each research group often has introductory graduate courses whose grades are often used by professors in choosing a student for seminar/MTP. These should be clear in the fundae session to be organized soon.

There are certain "load-balancing" courses in the department. If you are really interested in CS and your reasons for coming here extend beyond the placements and the IIT tag, I suggest you to take courses that interest you and which are moderately difficult as per your current preparation. Your MTP is worth 90 credits and far outweighs the 60 credits of the courses you will take. Besides, liking a course makes it far easier to do better in the course.

For people interested in studies beyond the conventional CSE stuff offered in the department, you may want to explore Mathematics, Applied Statistics and Informatics, EE, and IEOR courses in later semesters. These departments often offer courses in niche areas that are closely related to CSE.

On deciding courses, you can take two courses offered by two research groups that interest you. For example, Foundations of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for AI-ML-Data-Mining people, Advanced Computer Networks and Network Security for Networks people, Program Analysis and Functional Programming for Systems and Compilers, etc. If you are completely undecided, you may wish to explore four different areas by taking one introductory graduate level course in each area. The final mix of courses is for you to decide. Kindly discuss with facad/any professor/me/any senior if you feel you need to talk about your choice of courses.

I hope to talk to you all at least once before the registration closes. On Monday, I will be in Circular Hall from 10:30 to 12:30 and then again from 15:30 to 17:30. If you are at KReSIT, please drop by. Please feel free to bug me at any point during the semester for any reason at all.

Have a great time at IIT Bombay. I am sure you will! :-)


    On April 6, 2011 at 1:45 PM Anonymous said...

    is it possible to get direct admission in cse mtech with 104 rank?

    what about hostel facilities?
    does prof. treat mtechs differently then btechs?


    Could you please explain what exactly a research group is?


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