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Nadal losing at French open: This wasn’t forthcoming! Until yesterday this piece of statement would have created sighs and huh-s. Raefal Nadal losing at Roland Garos was un heard off, even in the tennis folklore. Such was the authority Nadal had on this strip of clay in Paris during summer.  Roger Federer, the invincible champion of this decade, even in his hay days found Nadal a bitter nut to crack. The four time champion Nadal of this very famous clay grand slam was all expected to beat the record held by the famous Swedish player Bjorn Borg who had won the same from 1978-81. Today, incidentally another Swedish player put a stop, a break so to speak, to that charge. Now the question and equations are relatively easier for a Fedex charge, but never know. Given that, a few upsets in the last couple of days, we can still hope for some more uncertainty, but I would expect Federer to sail through from here on. Andy Murray and with a less probability Roddick are the bigger stumbling blocks for Federer now.

Robin Soderling seeded 25 will now be known as the man who entered the record book for being the first and only player to beat Nadal at French open. He was a clay court no big boy so far, but given the form he is in, we can expect some sort of excitement in the coming days.

I get the feeling that Nadal was coming to this match, with almost no rest season. He was playing non stop and it was a bit of overkill, considering that he was in for a big season ahead. I remember Vijay Amritraj mentioned a few years ago on Nadal playing a bit too many matches and thereby risking serious games along with injury scares. I am sure he will get time to ponder over it and arrive at the right decision for him. He is a lively player to watch and I hope to find him rejuvenated before the next grand slam.

Sport is exciting for this reason. Just when we thought the tables are in order, we get to see a surprise from an unexpected corner. Now the room look different. Are we in for more shuffle? Let us wait for the action to continue…

On  a sunny Lausanne morning, I woke up much later than usual. A game of cricket last evening had its due share in settling my body parts and indirectly in this wake up delay as well. I was all excited to re start working on the one sided set constraint problem which I pondered about a little the other day. After a routine coffee, decided to check Indian newspapers on line and the first news said Kamala Suraiyya’s passed away. To most of us, especially the ones associated with Kerala, she is the one and only Madhavikutty known to outside world as Kamala das. A name change and a religion hop didn’t really bother a secular Malayali. However the truth remains that, she was easily one of the most misread, misinterpreted writers of this generation.

I have not read a lot of Madhavikutty’s major works. That is a shame, I must accept. But I remember reading many short stories of hers, published in magazines, newspaper supplements and weeklies. One of the stories I still remember is  Punnayoorkulam where she touchingly depicts the life of a poor servant. Other short stories instantly coming to my mind are chandana marangal (Sandal wood trees, ചന്ദന മരങ്ങള്‍) and Pakshiyude maNam (Smell of a bird, പക്ഷിയുടെ മണം).  Her story telling style was unique; most notably with her precise and careful selection of words. It is incredible that she could write so well in both Malayalam and English. Not many people know that she was nominated for Nobel prize in 1984.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to know much of her English works other than a collection of short stories titled Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories , which I happened to read sitting inside a book store in Trivandrum during the summer of 1996. That was an experience of some sort. I didn’t have money to buy books then. I used to spend a lot of time inside the book store (thankfully they allowed that) and spend nearly the whole day there. In two days of a week I could read quite a lot. I had restricted visits to two days a week to pretend that I was not exploiting that facility. Nevertheless, over a period, I had befriended with some of the shop guys and they politely let me enjoy this habit, realizing that I was a mere student who couldn’t afford to buy anyway.

Her life and works were dragged into so much controversy. I am not sure whether that helped her to increase the readership. I personally think she was an incredible writer who didn’t need these controversies to claim fame and readership. Her autobiography and the frank style of telling stories created public attention. Perhaps it came at a time when it was unusual for an Indian woman to be that open to express her emotions and life. I do not know much into that controversy, other than learning that it had some. I did not read her autobiography either to judge whether it had some explosive presentation of vivid emotions of a woman. Anyhow, such was her life. Some people would remember purely because of such controversies. Sadly many would have failed to realize the pure writing talent of such a bilingual writer, one of the best Kerala produced. Her death will surely create a void, considering that the language writing has become so thin these days.

Many people in Kerala were surprised when she converted her religion in the last stretch of her life. It was not because of the religion she chose to or the one she was born into. It was more because of the fact that she chose to give importance to latching onto a religion for keeping piece with her life. Anyway, that was her personal choice and everyone accepted it, period.

Madhavikutty’s departure is a big loss. May her soul rest in peace. I leave you with this documentary on Kamala das by Ignou:

In the end, Barcelona, quite fittingly became the champions league champions by drubbing Manchester United 2-0.  It is only fair to say that, they outsmarted Man United in the final.The semifinal between Barcelona and Chelsea had its fair share of drama, but the final was pretty much a Barca show, throughout. Andres Iniesta was awesome today.  It was he who stole the show, amidst all the talk of this match as a Ronaldo versus Messi showdown. For ManUnited part, they had their best share of the game in the first few minutes. Barring that, it was nearly one sided to my eyes.

I was watching the game on line sopcast through some Chinese TV. It was awful for two reasons. One, I couldn’t understand the language (my fault that in entirety), but the more funny and annoying thing was their pure dumpness when Barcelona advances or scored. I guess the commentators were hard core ManU fans. Earlier, I was watching the EPFL multicast, which had the french commentary. It was quite exciting and neutral. Once I reached home, the only thing worked for me was this Chinese TV. Anyway, glad that I could watch the final. That is satisfying!

Man United fans will surely find themselves let down by their team. Ronaldo did his best, but that apart, the team had nothing in display. When the Chelsea-Barcelona semifinal was lined up, I had two things to balance. One to support one of my favourite team, Chelsea and the other to seek a possibility to beat Man U in the final. Clearly Barcelona had a better chance to beat the united and they showed us with minimal contest. Well done Barca. You are the champions, truly and squarely.

Shrini Kudekar yet again showcased his creativity and acting skills on the eve of Dinkars public defense. Here is the video.

Yesudas and Mohammed Rafi singing the same melody: How about that for a treat to the ears? I didn’t realize that they have done it already for us. Rafi singing Jis Raat Ke Khwab Aaye (Film Habba Khatoon) and later Yesudas making that beautiful song Anuraga lola gathri (Movie Dwani) to a classic. I’ve learned that this melody is the creation of Naushad Ali. I am not going to make a comparison between these two legends (Well I am too in eligible to do that anyway). Both are so soothing. I find Yesudas has an amazing skill to vary the pitch with ease and that is perhaps quite critical in Malayalam language. Anyway, I have enjoyed both masters at work.

Sadly, these days, truthful, sensible and objective reporting are missing from many mainstream media houses. This is true globally including Europe, USA and without exception in India too. Take for instance Kerala, a tiny piece of land in the south west tip of India. The media over the past many weeks or months are just doing a masala gaga over silly factional arguments within a section of the ruling party. They go wild to picturize every tiny statements given by leaders and then glorify with their on puerile interpretations. It is a mess, the Kerala media at the moment;to say the least. Where are truthful media and journalists? Is any of them sensible enough to do truthful and objective reporting, sans yellowing the news? In an attempt to sell their masala craps, everyone go mad and go after such third rated reporting. The masala and gosspis can be at most a desert, but that cannot be the main course. Unfortunately, in reality the media changed their roles and glorified the wrong one.

The Hindu, is the only paper I find as an exception. It is indeed commendable that we have one source to reply upon. While the entire Kerala media was behind gossipping, The Hindu published this report (by C. Gouridasan Nair )on the progress of Kerala government over the last three years. This simply opened my eyes. While the sensational media events otherwise created an impression that the current government is not functioning at all, the truth clearly is the opposite. Surely, the common man do not get to read The Hindu and hence is caught in the wrong net of fallacy world spooned with incorrect information. I am sure that reflected in the vote share too.”

Whither goest thou media? Will you please grow up to be much more sensible and judicial? Thank you The Hindu for standing tall as a true piece of hope in the journalistic world. If only, the other media house learned a piece of your ideology!
http://www.thehindu.com/2009/05/18/stories/2009051854680700.htm

I had written a couple of blogs on this long running, rather unfortunate SriLankan civil war. I was terribly annoyed and saddened by the plight of millions of poor people docked in the name of a separate land. While their objectives and goals were reasonable, the method of violence to achieve the same was clearly beyond any common sense. LTTE and the war against the Sri Lankan civil government over the last several decades, not only killed their ethnic rivals, but also a vast majority of their very own people and displaced millions away from their land. Besides, he killed many promising leaders, most notably Rajiv Gandhi, India’s promising youth prime minister in 1991. If you go by the rationale of that assassination, you feel pity about LTTE as an organization, devoid of a genuine social and civil agenda. They just act like terrorists, which clearly  is not the way to solve problems in a modern civil society. If only they did have some sense prevailed, they should have gone to fight for their cause politically within the social rule. That would have in turn saved many innocent lives! Sadly, not to be!

Now, the news is breaking out that, the ruthless terror guerrilla leader of LTTE Velupillai Prabhakaran is killed along with many of associates. I condemn killing anyone, but this surely is a news, which in the long run will lead to stoppage of mass deaths and disaster to millions of people. This hopefully will end the civil war which ran over 25 years in the name of an ethnic (shame that we have to call it ethnic, since there is hardly any difference you cane make out from the two people involved in this fight) difference.  This end in many ways will pave ways for a better society for all the SriLankans, irrespective of their ethnic and language difference.

The end of this surely have to be a beginning of some sort for the small island nation to learn and live in harmony. They can learn from their big neighbour India, which has thousands of different societies, with multitude of languages, colour, culture, politics all coexist in harmony. Let all your citizens of SriLanka get to live together; let all kids get to go to the same schools;play together; grow up together; That is when your country look more beautiful. Not when you fights trying to show who owns this and that. Now, is the time to make that great move to future. Best wishes for a better tomorrow to all Sri Lankans.

Now is the time for international governments to help SriLanka to re build the nation. It is also time for them to force issues to evenly rehabiliate and integrate the minorities into mainstream. I seriously hope they do that.

Footnote: I was going through some of the photos circulating in the Internet on Prabhakaran. These are pictures released today, probably after raiding some of his hideouts. It appears that, he was living a comfortable life when thousands of people on their name, he played this big war were docked to doldrums. What a pity leader?

The 2009 Indian Parlament election results are out. The Congress lead government is all set to return for the second successive term. I personally think this is the best governmet at the moment available to the people. Manmohan singh is an able man and largely they seem to have a vision. His last five year term has been one with many accolades and a very few dulls. The Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi seem to be freed of large scale problems within the party. Congress even though have a lot of sycophants, the top leadership acts more or less sensibly to larger issues concerning the nation.

Now this being a clear mandate to Congress, it is an opportunity for them to take India forward with a stronger vision and clearer direction. A vision not merely targeted to improve the India shining media tag or sensex alone, but the one which genuinely helps to scale the rural and poorer section of the population. It is important now than ever to improve their lives by providing education, food and employment. While cities have gathered some colour and prospetrity in the recent years, the villages in many part of India still have a different story to say. I really hope this government begin addressing such issues with utmost importance. We need development stemming from rural areas, because immense potential are to be tapped from that often underprivilaged segment of society.

The defeat suffered by many regional parties which lacked any ethical base in some sense is going to be a blessing in disguise. We have seen over the years, the ugly negotiations between major parties and these swinging parties, in order to hang on to power. Some of them still are in there. I hope we don’t get to see such pity party MPs make mockery of people. I really hope that party leaders like Amar Singh, Mayawati and their respective parties don’t get to play that ugly negotiations.

The left parties, who have always stood as one of the rare political parties in India, for certain ideological standing also do not have much strength in this parliament. While many would consider their less than expected performance as an aid for a trouble free governance, I still consider their standing in many social issues has helped the current government to implement many people friendly schemes. This faiure is also a time for them to introspect into the ugly political factions within their party. As they say, you can learn more from failures than victory. I hope they learn to become a better outfit, by raising above pity individual factionism.

In Kerala, I personally, find the result as a mixed bag. I am indeed thrilled to see Shashi Tharoor winning with a handsome margin. He is surely our next foreign minister, largely because of his UN employment credentials. My wishful thinking is to have him taking up a ministerial portfolio involving rural society. Say for instance agriculture or rural development. I know this may not happen, because these are seen more of second class port folios, with no glamour or media hype around it. My argument however is to have someone who can make that policy vision for the future, which can transform a nation forward. One thing for sure. Kerala, which is often overlooked as a non-important state in national scene will get some preference, because some heavy weights including Shashi are going to be housed in parliament as representatives from Kerala. Apart from Shashi Tharoor, the better representatives are the young CPI(M) Mps such as Rajesh and Biju. Kasargod MP Karunakaran of CPI(M) and Vadakara MP Mullapally Ramachandran of Congress are also known to be good vocal representatives of people in the parliament. I hope they all live up to people’s expectations. Some of the winning MPs are less than useful to people and indeed it is sad to learn about this verdict, especially the ones from Kannur, Alappuzha, Kollam,Ernakulam,Trichur,Kottayam etc. End of the day, it is people’s verdict and we should respect it. We can only hope for these elected candidates to be model representatives for their people.

Meanwhile, the much underrated Laloo Prasad Yadav made it from one of the two constituencies he tried. He has been an amazing railway minister, in spite of his ridiculed public view among elite social circle. To me, he is the champion minister who made the Railway from an organization of deep debt to one of the very successful outfit. Considering that Indian Railways is the largest employment providing organization in the world (claimed to have over 1.4 Million employees!), his contribution is nothing less than extra ordinary. Many people, including your truly had once thought of him as a mere laughing stock, but now he has my respect in lump-some. I hope he continue his promising work and stay as Railway minister.

Elsewhere, the most dynamic minister in the current cabinet Chidambaram just survived a scare at Shivaganga. I am glad that he made it, simply because he is too good a minister to miss out. With Rahul Gandhi in, the new Cabinet is going to have some promising members. Together with many others, including many young and vibrant representatives, we have the making of a very dynamic cabinet under Manmohan singh. I am really looking forward to a more stable, cleaner and efficient government which can take our nation forward, eradicating the mark of poverty in many villages to one India of prosperity.

The much expected Wolfram alpha has gone for a soft launch since last night. It had some start up glitches, as Wolfram briefed during the live demo, but nothing major fortunately, prevented  me from getting a first feel of it. Erick Schonfeld  has a nice blog with a detailed first hand feel description of this new computing web search engine.  He also did a one to one comparison with Google for a few specific search queries.

My first impression is in much the same line as what I expected after reading Wolfram’s pre-launch blog. This is not a Google competitor for sure, but instead an incredibly complementing brother.  Wolfram alpha is more of a scientific and quantitative information search engine. For instance, if you want to know the Taylor series expansion of  exponential function $e^{x}$, you can do it easily by entering “Taylor series of Exp[x/2]”. As you would imagine, Google does not give this precise answer, but instead give you a list of documents matching this query, for instance a set of PDF links where this is already calculated. Clearly, Wolfram gives a more accurate and clever presentation of this query result. Wolfram alpha seem to use quite a lot of Mathematica capabilities too, like plot etc. Any mathematical query, will lead to pretty good result, sometimes including plots, histograms, Taylor expansions, approximations, derivatives, continuity etc. It is a nice feature to have for students and engineers.

wolfram1

This is the sort of query it likes the most and not something like “proof of Sanov’s theorem”. Google will incredibly list a set of documents which has the proof one is looking for, since it simply search down the web and display a listof  matching queries, ordered based on pagerank, which is loosely speaking in the order of relevance.

Not all queries are bound to get a result with wolfram alpha, atleast for now. That is expected since it is not yet in launch mode, but on soft launch. In the coming days they are likely to have it running full fledged with all kind od queries supported.

So, the wolfram alpha is definitely going to be useful for very many cases and it surely is going to rock in scientific searches. I initially thought the Google squared which is going to come from Google shortly is addressing the very same segment of search area, but it is clearly different.

I tried “tallest mountain Switzerland” . It gave a very nice cute quantified table. I love this kind of result. It is also state things with less ambiguity. For instance the height is mentioned in meter, but there is a list of unit conversions listed along, which help people to map them into the units of their convenience.

We can afford some amount of spelling errors while entering the query in wolfram alpha. Since it is natural language based, that is a decent feature to have. I deliberately typed the query “distnace from Bangalore to geneva ” instead of “distance from Bangalore to geneva “. It understood the intended query and displayed the result in a nice quantified table. Eve the geographical trace between the two places is shown. Incredible!

When I tried “weather in Lausanne”, this is as good as it gets.  Spot on with all possible things you want to know in one screen! It had a list of mountains and their heights mentioned!

In a nutshell, Wolfram alpha give you the best cooked food, given a user recipient as input. Google will give you a list of foods available and then you pick the one tasting suit . It  really then is a question of preference, time, and satisfaction of the end user on what to choose from. As far as I am concerned, it is subjective. I see both of these are invaluable and both will co-exist. Scientists,economists, finance folks, mathematicians, historians are all bound to benefit from this new computing engine.  I am waiting for a full release!

Today, I attended a very good talk given by Emo Welzl of ETHZ. I could not quite appreciate the drinks and snacks prior to the event, since the organizers kept too little of them and by the time I arrived,  smart guys had grabbed hold of almost all of them. I had to content with a glass of orange juice! Anyway nothing comes free in this country. So getting an orange juice is itself luxury, one would say! Nevertheless, glad that I attended this talk. Monika Henzinger did the speaker introduction part, which she did very well. She mentioned that Emo comes from the same village as that of her husband (Thomas Henzinger). That is not really relevant, but I like such personal, less formal introductions. It takes the audience to a touch curious and close. He indeed proved her (Monika promised us that we are in game for a great talk) right with a truly nice lecture, calm, composed and thoughtful;words precisely chosen, well articulated throughout. He gave some insights into a problem which was never known to me. My field is not quite into SAT or algorithms, but at the end of this talk, I got to learn some thing. Moreover, he instigated me to learn a little more about these nice problems.

Here is a gist of what I understood. If you are interested in the talk subject, perhaps you should visit his homepage. What I state down is something my little brain, which never for once trained on this topic, digested out. Suppose we are given a Boolean function (that is a logic function which has either true or false, equivalently 0 or 1 results). Deciding satisfiability (known as SAT problem) of such formula in conjunctive normal form is known to be an NP complete problem. He discussed some nice (surprisingly simplified bounds) combinatorial bounds on the number of clauses (or equivalently constraints) for unsatisfiability. As usual in talks, I hardly could grasp the proof in total, but he began quoting the Lovász lemma as an essential ingredient. I got to learn a little bit about this rather nice and cute lemma. Loosely the lemma has the following setting.
If we consider a sequence of events $s_1,s_2,\ldots s_k$ where each of these events occur with a probability at most $p$. Suppose each event is independent from all other events, except at most $d$ of them, then $ep(d+1) \le 1$, where $e$ is the Napier constant (named after the famous Scottish mathematician John Napier). This did not strike me instantly, but pondering a little bit about it, I have realized that this is really cute a bound. I can think of a nice, little example scenario, where this can be applied. Let me figure out another cute one. You can expect me to post it. Now let me get back to that optimization problem on compound sets of channels that I have been stuck for the last four days.

Soccer matches, champions leagues in particular are never short of emotions. It reached the very pinnacle during this years champions league semifinal between Chelsea and Barcelona. Players went a little too far in the climax stage. Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo was the perceived villain in the whole drama, while Chelsea players went a little wild to protest against the faulted referee.  Considering the significance of a decision separating a finalist from a tournament exit; that too one of this magnitude, it is partly understandable, the outburst in the heat.

Have your ever wondered the value of three minutes of time? Try to seek an answer from Chelsea players and fans! That three minutes of extra time brought the team from heaven to earth. The simmering semifinal at this year Champions league saw high drama throughout the match and especially towards the end, where an equalizer from Barcelona shutting all hopes for the home team’s chances to get through to the final. I have been quite unhappy with the away goal rule as an equivalent to win mandate, but that is a rule which is well into the league and nothing can be done about it. But the sad thing in this event is that Chelsea was badly overlooked by the referee in many penalty claims. At least one for sure for the handling the ball by Gerard Pique in the Barcelona penalty box. Hard core Chelsea fans would consider that they were clearly denied of as many as five penalty claims.   The emotion displayed by the players in the heat of those high sensitive moments is partly justified in that sense.

I can understand the heart breaking letdown for Chelsea fans. It is not that big a club in terms of history or fan following, but Chelsea managed to gather a reasonable fan base since Abramovich poured money in the last few years. Considering that they were in the final of the championships last year, this loss would bite the fans so dearly, shutting that elusive wish list of a repeat final and a possible return of fortune against Manchester United. Alas! That was not to be! In any case, the match was an incredible one. Both goals were stupendous. But Sanford bridge fans would have never ever imagined that three minutes of extra time would break their heart so very dearly. But that is the way sport and sporting emotions go at times. That is the beauty of sport too. It can bring in surprises from the most unsurprising corners. This match will be remembered for a very long time.

Barcelona on the other hand is playing well and can seriously challenge ManU in the final. So, we are in for a thrilling contest in the finals.

On an impact side, the danger coming with this loss for Chelsea is the money investment by its boss Abramovich. The billionaire owner is hit recently  by the world wide economic downtime where in a single year he found himself poor by 40%. That being said he still has over 10 Billion USD or so, but the question is whether he will still have the enthusiasm to pour (his precious) money to feed the Ballacks and the Lampards. After all you need a lot of money to keep these boys.

Now, looking forward to the final, I hope Barcelona beat ManU! Barca is in great form and the chances are high for them to clinch that trophy. I wouldnt care less if ManU wins another one, but Barca and ManU, please give us another thriller.

I am eagerly waiting for this new search and compute engine promised by Stephen Wolfram.  They call it wolfram|alpha (If google always went with the beta release, Wolfram is going even early).This, if it work in the promised lines is going to rock the Internet evolution. From the outset, this is not just a search engine. It is kind of an intelligent searcher who can loosely understand the human requirements.

For long, it was perceived that a search engine driven by natural language processing is the way forward. But it is pretty hard to build such a system since natural language processing is no mean business.  Wolfram’s idea is to create an abstraction and then algorithm of these realizable models. Once we can do a mapping of the requirements  to algorithm that is computable, at least in principle we can build such a system. But that is a whole lot of heavy statements already. How easy it is to build all these methods and models into an algorithmic framework? He is using the New Kind of Science (NKS) armoury to realize that. We have to wait to get the full rainbow, but when he promises we can confidently expect something big.

Now once the algorithmic mapping (and implementation) is done, then the question of natural interacting between humans and the system comes. Natural language is the way, but according to him we don’t have to worry about doing that as such. Once the knowledge of the individual is made into a computational framework, then that is enough.  I am not an expert in this natural language processing and NKS framework, but for sure this is pretty exciting,both from an algorithmic point of view as well as a practical MontBlanc. As Wolfram himself pointed out Pulling all of this together to create a true computational knowledge engine is a very difficult task. Indeed it is still being considered a difficult problem, both in academia and industry. So there is excitement aplenty in the offing. I am eagerly waiting for this to hit soon.

Considering that, the big wig search engine houses including Google are still struggling to make that dream natural language engines (the many pseudo ones in the market are not quite approved). I remember http://www.ask.com started their business in those lines, but never seemed to have crossed that elusive mark of acceptance, atleast not to an extend to capture a world wide wow!  If Wolfram has a new way to get this through, that will be a big breakthrough. I cant wait to see that. Wolfram promises that it is going to be very soon. He says it is in May 2009. My guess is that they will release it on May 14,2009.

I had earlier promised to update on the Xitip, when a windows setup is ready.  Though delayed, I have something to say now. I have finally made a windows installer for the (Information theoretic inequality proverXitip software, which was working pretty smoothly on linux, cygwin and mac for a while. I was not too keen on making this windows installer since a few DLL files are involved with it. Besides it was  a bit painful to include these nasty DLL files which would unnecessarily increase the bundle size.  Some of these may not be required if Gtk is already installed on the machine, but anyway I made one double click style version to suit the layman windows users in information theory community.

Vaneet Aggarwal is the one who motivated me to make this up since he uses Windows. He showed some interest to use it, should a windows version be available. If atleast one user benefit from it, why not make it. In the process, I got to learn about an easy way to produce a windows install (setup maker) program. I used the freeware Install creator to produce it.

I will put this installer available at the xitip website, but for the time  being you can access it from here. A lot of people suggested to revamp the xitip webpage which is pretty unclean at the moment. May be a short tutorial is impending. That will take a while; the next two and a half months are out of equation since I am pretty busy till then.

It was today. I’ve just come back to office, after the dinner party hosted as part of the I&C anniversary celebrations at EPFL. Andrew Viterbi was the guest of honour and largely because of his fame, there was considerable crowd attending the function. Martin Vetterli made a nice colourful, flashy presentation illustrating the history of I&C in EPFL as well as scientific progress in Switzerland. He mentioned the names including Jim Massey, Ungerboek who are undoubtedly pioneers of modern communication theory and practice. He began saying that “…Ungerboek is our friend, and now not quite..I will come to that in a minute…”. And of course he didnt come back and fill the circumstance in which the friendship derailed. But I reckon it was a casual remark, perhaps to indicate that Ungerboek, now with Broadcom is a bitter rival to Qualcomm. Since Qualcomm recently established a scientific partnership with EPFL and Viterbi being a Qualcom founder and associate, he perhaps just jotted that remark. It was a nice, usual interesting presentation by Martin.

He also mentioned a nice story about the current EPFL president Patrick Aebischer. Interestingly Patrick Aebischer after an MD (Medical science) degree was fond of computer science and decided to venture into taking a MS degree in CS . He then decided to test his luck at EPFL and approached the admission committee with a formal application. CS was affiliated to the Math department in those days. EPFL politely rejected his application and in due course that ended Patrick’s quest for an EPFL CS degree. He then moved to the US, as a successful surgeon and took a career path of entirely different trace. Years later, as one would say, due to the uncertain turn of things in the great cycle of life, he became the EPFL president and now ruling not only the CS department, but the whole school.

Viterbi talked about the Digital Communication history. He started giving a perspective of this field starting from the days of Maxwell, Rao, Cramer, Wiener and Nyquist. Then he discussed the impact of Shannon’s work. He said the three driving force which made this digital mobile revolution are

1) Shannon’s framework (1948)

2) Satellite (Sparked by the Sputnik success in 1957)

3) Moores’s law, which is more of a socio economic law, which dramatically kept driving the industry so successfully.

The talk as such wasn’t too attention gathering, but he made a rather comprehensive presentation discussing the impact of  digital communication evolution spurred since Shannon’s days (and even early) knitting a dramatic success story of digital wireless world with millions of cell phones and similar devices, which showcased literally the realization of theoretical promise Shannon made in 1948. He himself has his name etched in part of that success story, at least in the form of Viterbi algorithm, which is (one of the instance of it) an algorithm used to detect sequences when perturbed by a medium.

Quite a lot of fun activities were organized by the committee. It was quite fun. Since many programs (especially the fun part) were in french, the appeal was considerably deaf to non-french speakers. But then the rationale given was that, the alumni in good percentage are french! I found it funfilled , mainly to see these successful people like Viterbi sharing their views in real. After all we can learn from history. Not many people can claim to have done so well in everything he touched. In the case of Viterbi, he is an academician, researcher, successful entrepreneur and now a venture capitalist, all scaled to the possible limits. Incredible role model, whichever way we look.

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