Tayzwi

Should be reading more and writing less, but well...

Monday, January 31, 2005

 

Bombay

Bombay is an experience; and esp. after living in a hamlet like Bangalore, Bombay hits me each time I venture out of the campus. And this weekend was especially severe. Two friends (Amit Rathore from ThoughtWorks and Akshay from IIM-Lucknow) were visiting, one for the exclusive purpose of "chilling out" and the other had some official work. But the three of us hit the yuppie circuit here, in full blast. And as Amit said before leaving, it was some severe shit. Restaurants, cafes, bars, beaches, local trains, never ending taxi drives, late late night chilly auto rides, malls, and all the other elements which every urban jungle has. But its sheer scale, and the way things are intertwined here; that is the difference. Amidst all our chaotic travelling and induldence, there was a lot of talk on economics, India, Kannada, Bombay, mis-adventures with women, books and so on. Coffeehouse philosophy at its very best; three geeks, what else can you get?!

Among other things, I got my wallet picked during a local train ride. The irony of it was, this was right after an eye-opening RSS meeting/lunch on Republic Day. Done with blocking all my bank-cards, still have to get new ones, get duplicate identity card, driver's licence, etc. But, more significantly, all my other personal belongings in the wallet are gone now, and all of them are beyond replacement. All of them, beyond replacement.

Bombay is a cauldron. Lot of heat, tons of volume. A single wallet?

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

 

Human Equlibrium?

Are there enough people in this world for all the tasks that are around? I mean, is the load distributed properly? are there enough complexity theorists? enough newsreaders? enough teachers? enough sportsmen? enough truck drivers? enough glassblowers?

Is it balanced? or are we fooling ourselves that things are in equilibrium? Lemme tell you why this equilibrium is floating in my head now. I was pondering about the so called "micro" and "macro" level interests of any person. At least me. At a micro level, I am working on web-search, or in a more general sense, concerned about computer science. At a macro level, I feel for India, Indian politics, socialism, economics, historical injustice, hunger, etc. Though my macro level interests are viable career options, I just dont take them for various reasons. Now, I somewhere, deep down, subconsciously, desperately hope that human equilibrium exists and all those areas of work that I am not involved in, but are important to me, are being taken care of; by professionals, by passionate people, by zealots, by selfless volunteers etc. And my working on search engines will somehow help them do their job better. Some theory guy proving approximation lower bounds for some O.R scheduling problem will save some money in some facotry line up which will be given as bonus. Some IAS officer streamlining infrastructure efforts might get me from KanjurMarg to Mulund in time for a movie.

Anyways, as I am writing this, I feel quite stupid, but the equilibrium thought did come to my mind and was quite futile in convincing me that what I am doing currently is worthwhile...

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Friday, January 21, 2005

 

Ability & Responsibility

I heard someone say that "If you have the ability to do something (good), its your responsibility to do so."

This put me in a quandary of sorts; I have always known that I have had the ability to do a lot of things, and some of these things could've made the world a better place, maybe in a very limited way. But, I have never taken the responsibility for most of these. Mostly, moments of this sort pass by without us realizing that it is indeed our responsibility to do certain things in life. The irony is that there are also times in life when the responsibility is very clear, but the ability is somewhat questionable. Both situations arise in life, and we give them both a raw deal.

Thats the moral question of the day (for me at least).

Among other things, this January has seen a deluge of holidays for us. A lot of 3-day weekends, some in-between holidays. And so, on January 26th, I will be at Shivaji Park in Dadar meeting up with the RSS relative of mine during the RSS Republic Day function. I am really surprised (also happy) that he actually took time out of his busy schedule and asked me to join him for some talk that day. Maybe this time, it might be some implementation of some ideal/ideas. I might get to see some logistical aspects of what really goes on at that level. Watch this space for the Republic Day update.

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

Sudeep wins; (almost) flawless victory

2/3rd of the average of five numbers I got was 26. Sudeep's answer was 27. So, heres to the winner of a fabulous gift from my side. There is much more to this than just random number generation. I am reading a text on game theory currently, and will update more stuff related to it soon.

For the record, here were the numbers I got: 55, 54, 20, 39 & 27. A few people whom I expected to participate didn't and maybe that did affect the strategies of those who did participate.

I posted the same thread in our dept. newsgroup and got eight responses, and the 2/3 of the average was 30.38 and the closest number to that was 35.

More normal postings in the next post.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

 

Introduction to Game Theory

Mail a number between 0 and 100 (inclusive) to me at tejaswi(at)it.iitb.ac.in before 2359 hours, Wednesday, 19th January. The person who comes up with the number which is closest to 2/3-rd the average of all the responses will get a personal gift from me.

We will continue with actual game theory in my subsequent posts, but this will give you an insight into how complex a simple problem will get if there are competing rational agents in a system who can anticipate and double guess others, and normally do. We will also see how this can be formally and thoroughly studied. Please do participate. And don't mail anonymously :)

It will help if the subject of the mail is "game theory". Also, I will consider the last email I get from each of you as your response. So, feel free to change your response; but not too many times :)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

 

Finance and Friends

Samba makes it into Yale for a (tentative) $100K+ MBA. Gotta see whether he takes it or not, and if he does, how he is going to do it, and whether he makes it or not; in the long run I mean.

Speaking of finance, Amit Rathore has started his finance blog, after his general blog, theory of everything blog and the somewhat ambitious entrepreneurial blog. But still, his "spirit for a concept" is commendable. He is probably the most prolific of all the bloggers I know in person.

I am crediting the Applied Economics course this semseter, and lets see if economics is indeed as interesting as I think it is. Somewhere, I see the analytical and the social aspects of human thought merging in Economics. Even if it ain't that interesting by itself, Joel Spolsky advices that one ought to learn microeconomics before graduating out of college just to ensure a balance at work.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

 

Suzanna

Got into a music mood today, was talking to a friend here on messenger and we were listening to a few of my favorite songs, and digged up this old song which I used to hear during my second year PU days: Suzanna - Art Company. This is an awesome self-deprecating humor song, with loser-moments that makes me smile at how it used to be back then. Whoa, things have changed so much since second year PU. Almost 10 years now. Shucks, oh Shucks, those were the days of the angsts of the sweetest types. I miss those days right now, I seem to be someone else.

Listening to some of my other favorite songs, Against All Odds - Phil Collins, Cats in the Cradle - Ugly Kid Joe, NIB - Ozzy, Jeremy - Pearl Jam, Drops of Jupiter - Train, Stranger in Moscow - Michael Jackson and so on.......gotta figure out what makes music so sublime. I mean, its truly sublime, it can get into me (whatever "me" is), and change the way I feel, catalyse my moods, take me elsewhere, time-travel and memory-refreshes take over, there is something about music that transcends reason and rationality, it just cannot be discrete notes of tones strung together in some order, it just cannot be.

Friday, January 07, 2005

 

Schrodinger's Cat

I got this ultra-cool t-shirt as a gift from my sister; take a look.

And now, there is a sudden interest in pop-quantum mechanics in my lab and around. Not bad for a t-shirt. A t-shirt with an attitude reminds me of how Brad Pitt comments "You are a fuckin T-shirt" to John Doe in the movie Se7en. Anyways, I got two other ThinkGeek shirts which are superb too. And also some book on paradoxes and reasoning. All in all, a great birthday/ new year gift from my sister.

Inagurated my return to IIT with more movies: Incredibles, Anna and the King, Se7en, etc. Life is getting back to normal with 4 courses and 1 lab; I have decided to take applied economics.

Sudeep's post brings back great memories. Richie's post just re-affirms his bias.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

 

Swimming & Flying

Visited the pool today. Its a pretty good pool, very good quality, water, lifeguards, showerstalls and all. It is around half the size of the Basavanagudi pool, but has the same depth range (3ft - 16ft). I plan to stick to the 1845-1930 batch. Had to get a medical test done to ensure that I am low-risk. As for the actual swimming, I now realize that I am out of shape, and out of form, and out of energy. Plan to work on each of them with swimming, cycling and a controlled diet. Lets see whether it works. Will test it on innocent Bangalore folks when I visit in May 2005.

Academically, the course merry-go-round is going on, with everyone frantically trying to optimize their courses in terms of load, final year projects, grades, weekly timings etc. I am still debating whether to take Combinatorics or Applied Economics. Other than that, I will be sticking to Hypertext Mining, Data Mining and Approximation Algorithms this semester, coupled with one dud lab, making it a very heavy course indeed. I might also be working with a startup here on some cooL stuff. Will update as things take shape.

Now, for the best part of my post. My flight from Bangalore to Bombay. For a long time now, I had had these expectations, awe, and a feeling of anticipation for flying. It lived upto every bit of my thought and more. Flying is probably as commonplace as driving to many, but for me, it was a new thing, and I haven't felt many new things for sometime now. I loved the initial acceleration, the first few moments of flight, the view of the city fading as we climb, the oh-so-fantastic clouds - in all their myriad shapes and sizes, the tilting of wings, and as we landed, I could recognize a few buildings in Bombay, and we flew so close to a slum, that I could actually make out urchins playing on the gullys, and the feeling of floating as we get close to landing and the sudden feeling of speed as we hit the ground.......overall, a great experience, and I am glad I took the flight this time.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

 

2005

Heres wishing you all a very happy new year.....and years to come.

Anyways, it also happens to be my last evening in Bangalore for a while to come. I am leaving for Bombay tomorrow (Monday, Jan 3rd 2005) by the 1445 Jet Airways flight. Will get back to regular blog updates when I reach IIT and am in front of my machine more regularly than here. It was a great month spent at home. Tons of great filter coffee, home made food, comfortable bed with warm blanket, and a feeling of being at home, teriffic times spent with friends; and now, the vacation ends. .

In retrospect, 2004 was an interesting year. I realized quite a few things about myself; mostly the not-so-good. But knowing the not-so-good things about me gives me a chance to improve, rather than feel cushy about how I am; I hope. And 2005, will also be my full year in Bombay, my first fill year out of home. It's gonna rock!

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