Saturday, April 07, 2007

My Philosophy of Research...

Time immemorial has witnessed that man is not a lone entity. He is continually affected, influenced and maneuvered by the existence of other physical (or virtual) entities around himself. As a result, he develops and enhances his understanding of the world with time: meanings are structured, refined and relinquished or turn into a practice.

I am interested in learning and deciphering these semantics inherent in our daily lives. These are the semantics that emerge from our interactions parallelly with the physical and virtual world. The modern twenty-first century computing today has moved ahead from a parochial outlook of considering the physical and the virtual world as orthogonal entities towards a framework where both can be embedded, situated or visualized transparently as integral part of how, where, when and why our lives are what they are and how they move on.

This presents several grave challenges: the most obvious of which is that, the semantics are now a function of the affect of both the physical and the virtual world. For example, consider my predictions of rain tonight. How do I do that: the weather channel; a friend; whether it rained yesterday, or merely looking at the clouds in the sky? The second issue is that, the traditional computing community has almost disregarded that these semantics can actually be drawn back to some effect from the physical world. To take an example, consider the communication patterns of a person. With our existent knowledge of conventional computing, can we address why I react differently while talking to my mother and while talking to my colleague? I guess we cannot.

My goal is to focus on modeling and analyzing how these semantics which might be called hybrid semantics emerge and evolve in our daily lives and how they can enable the design of better computing systems as well as provide insights to abridging the gap that exists in merging the physical and virtual world. I foresee this might construct a feedback loop through which we might have a better understanding of the semantics of the world around us.

In order to address the two challenges addressed above, as well as to cater towards my goal, we see there is a key construct central to both. That is the context. My predictions of rain tonight are contingent upon my knowledge of whether it rained yesterday (situational context). It is also indirectly dependent on my trust of the friend about weather matters (social context). My communication patterns with my mother and colleague differ because the social relationships differ (social context, again).

I conjecture that an absolute understanding of semantics is not possible unless we have knowledge about the context of the physical and virtual world around us. But addressing context can be complex and at times ambiguous if we rely solely on traditional computing methodologies. We cannot address my trust on my friend unless we know the hidden relationship implicit in our historical interactions. My mother and my colleague are different persons; a fact which is at the core of variability in social semantics at my end.

I, therefore, intend to go beyond these limitations and peripheries of conventional computing. I want to delve into the implications of the sociological ties, exploit the several facets of cognitive implications and perception of entities, as well as explore the confluence of the understanding of the natural sciences and computing. Because, I believe, man is central to any research endeavor, but his ambient surroundings reap the harvest of rendering a clearer understanding of the semantics of the world we see today.