Friday, May 30, 2008

From paper-writing to contribution to life-talks ...

I believe the most important parts of a technical paper are the Introduction and Conclusions sections. In the Introduction, the motivation for the problem has to be presented in such a way so that it looks utterly compelling - the reviewer should ask himself or herself, "how were we leading our lives without this research in the past?" This is the degree to which we need to convince people with our research - this makes a real contribution!

The conclusions section is the other end of the pole. One of the basic ingredients of good research is to be able to acknowledge one's own short-comings (note: is it not true for life as well - being able to identify our own mistakes and short-comings?). Therefore pointing out open issues in your model / framework / experiments in the Conclusions section is of utmost importance.

One of the primary reasons I took to research was because I wanted to contribute something to the world holistically. It is an endeavor which attempts to make our lives better! As I read in one of the papers today about the impact of social networks research:
"Social network analysis is useful for the development and self-optimization of the society as a whole."

The paper was published in the renowned scientific journal Nature and therein comes its wide dimensions of contributions!

Indeed, this is the kind of contribution I want my thesis to make to the world! Trust me, paper-writing comes with a lot of insights into oneself - not only the thesis topic, but life as a whole. After all, as someone once said (when I was starting off my PhD), "research is similar to being in love, a relationship, a very serious one, a relationship that needs time, effort and commitment: commitment for the lifetime..."

I guess it is true and I will make sure there is no dearth of commitment anytime; a personal trait I have always cherished in myself; commitment to whatever I am serious about. Probably not everything has worked out positively even after this, but I am truthful to myself: that I tried to the best of my efforts ... :)

And yes, if you think I am totally brain-washed about research or commitments in life, then you are right, I am :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blog communication -> Stock market movement

I will be posting the details soon sometime! Still alive, working on the deadline!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Philosophies, Here and There ...

Love is overrated - there is nothing as impossible to get over from, which you once loved. It bleeds. We look back and see, we want to tread back to the crossroads where love left off. But the reverse journey never ends. An echo of past memories persists. But then time heals the wound, somewhere, some manner. We just need to have the eye to rediscover our love all over again. May be in something completely different. May be an inane object. Love of work can be honest, earnest and profound. Love which lingers as long as we breathe.

Keep the minimal attachments, least expectations, but the best of social contacts - this is the unfortunate story of our current world.

Live life every moment; I live in deadlines, short goals towards something bigger, more long-termed.

The biggest war are the challenges we meet everyday. One of them is the battle between your desires and your morals. Principles that we grow up with, faith in ourselves - every sunrise lends us new horizons to prove that faith. Even in the midst of desires, where success or happiness seems so near. But the real spirit of happiness is within ourselves; a belief that we will never demean the swamp of trust we bear in us always.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


There are days when everything seems to go wrong, and there are times when everything seems to fall in the very right place! Today is one of those days - the day of all the 'right' things!

I woke up comparatively early today morning; one, because I had a meeting, and secondly I wanted to do a few experiments to show in the meeting. The meeting went off good; the results I got for the upcoming deadline are good! Petty things, but these make me really happy!

Happiness appears more and more psychological to me these days - clinging to small knick-knacks of life. CIKM is very important for me; hope I am able to make a good submission!

On this happy note, I quote the following few lines:

Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching!

And also the following lyrics from the movie Khamoshi:

Aaj main oopar aasmaan neeche
Aaj main aage zamaana hai peechhe
Aaj main oopar aasmaan neeche
Aaj main aage zamaana hai peechhe
Tell me o khuda
Ab main kya karoon
Chaloon seedhi ki ulti chaloon

Monday, May 19, 2008

Conferences ...

Not a surprise or a great achievement, but the technical poster (on Modeling Information Roles for capturing Stock Market Dynamics) got accepted at the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing '08. Small achievements just keep us on our toes - to realize in the long years of PhD, some sense of moving forward; a relief from monotonicity and riddance from getting lost in a swamp of mediocrity. After all, the mid-PhD years are the toughest parts of the PhD process!

If I can manage a travel grant, I would like to go to Keystone, Colorado where the conference is, in October. I haven't been to Colorado, so I expect it to be fun!

By the way, my travel plans for Pittsburgh in June (17th to 21st) is almost finalized. It is the second time (after Chicago) I would be traveling somewhere close to mid-west. Though Pittsburgh is not one of the tourist places, but should be nice, considering the grand organization at the conference.

It is coming to seem to me more and more that it is the publications which could keep me real happy all this while! Happiness is out there; in those papers!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"In the Mood for Love" (2000)

After suggestions on numerous occasions by a friend to watch the movie In the Mood for Love, I finally watched it tonight. It is a Cantonese movie (the native language spoken in Hong Kong) and is based on a drama of romance between two people, spanning over almost six years in the 1960's.

This is my first take on an east Asian movie; but I must say it is one of the most beautifully made movies I have ever seen - a simple plot of extra-marital romance, but woven beautifully in the fabric of circumstances, external events and the pull and push between faith, love and morals. It is one of the few rare instances when a story solely based on the romance blooming between two already married people succeeds to gather the same frequency from the viewer - given the social stigma of extra-marital relationships in the society of those times.

One of the most different and interesting aspects of the movie is the way they show regularities in our lives - how monotonousness creeps in inside our lives over time, often moulding the way we look at things. I am also intrigued by the manner of silence dominating in different scenes, and still conveying to the viewer the state of mind of the characters - a rare attribute which I have seen in very few movies, some being e.g. Ray's movies like 'Pather Panchali'.

The movie provides a fresh look at romance. Interestingly, there are no romantically explicit scenes, and yet the viewer manages to feel how the love between the two characters progresses over time. The characters seem very humane, mundane and made of flesh-and-blood; they see their love blooming but are constrained by the society and the responsibilities of having been married. Love blooms till comes the time of separation - the characters living upto their moral beliefs - love which still keeps them the people they are. The movie ends at a note where the protagonist sees a blurry past, a past which he can only look back and see and never be able to feel or touch. A touch which, in the end, he buries in a hole in AngorWat, Cambodia- a secret which he thinks he should not share with the world.

The movie once again (on very rare occasions yet) has let me to think the connection between fictions and life - both have players who are humans; they have the incessant urge to be happy and still be responsible to circumstances - succumb to things which they cannot control. I feel it is really the life all of us lead sometime somewhere.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A few very incongruous facets ...

Empirical experiment:
Browsing videos on YouTube is probably the best random walk model experiment. Surprisingly I often reach the same videos over and over in a considerable short span of time - hint towards k-degrees of separation.

Consequences of Time travel:
I think life won't continue to be as interesting if we could always go back and could change the happenings. We would lose the motivation to do things to perfection, there would be no need for hard work or no existence of any aspiration. The uncertainty in life keeps us wondering about every tomorrow with a smile. Knowledge will reach stagnation - Einsteins would never die and the advent of newer and fresher minds would be unlikely since the world would never involve taking risks.

Life is a like a book; but the only difference being, we cannot go back to the previous pages to re-read and understand the situation. If you tear a page in the past, you cannot possibly come back to the present and stick it back at the current page. It just won't fit in there - because the circumstances and the people, all have moved on, save you!

I believe life is all about how much you can give away - be it love, be it knowledge, be it service. This is the secret to being rich - love as much as you can - never look back for reciprocation. Spread your knowledge - after all, knowledge is contagious, and you can play a significant role in the knowledge-epidemic. Knowledge is the light to a better world tomorrow. Isn't life therefore about living for the people, even those whom you would probably never meet or never know? Because knowledge and love transcend physical perceptions of familiarity and mutual awareness - a few greater truths we hardly realize in our never-ending hunt for happiness. Happiness? It is right there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Murphy's Law gets Empirical...

This is the story of my "interesting" life (read a sarcastic tone here). Yesterday was one of the most memorable days yet - though unfortunately it won't go down with any sweet memory.

I slept about three hours when I woke up on Friday morning; but has to rush to lab for the paper I am working on right now for the June 3 deadline (CIKM '08). I had thought of using a nice mathematical construct in my model, so was all excited to be at the lab as soon as possible. I took the bus as usual, as I have been doing all the while this semester.

By 3 pm, I was really sleepy. One of my friends at the department let me know of some free food upstairs, so ran to grab them - ice cream cake, cookies and soda. After the food, no way I was able to stay at the lab. I decided I will leave.

I took the bus back and reached Tempe Public Library where my car is usually parked. I suddenly thought I will get some Indian food from a nearby store. So started driving there.

It was a light rail inclusive road, and I had to turn left. Sleepy as I was, I did. By the moment I turned in, I saw flashing red light and the Police buzzing behind. It was a huge cop on a motor bike. Herein is the story's climax. LOL.

It was not the first time I got pulled over, so I was prepared what to do. But things were not that simple. He asked me why I made the illegal turn - obvious answer I did not notice (implicitly I was sleepy probably, but could not tell him this). This was not the end of my stupidity. He asked for my insurance, and what I realized I did not have the renewed insurance card! I told him, I have insurance, just that I don't have the card as of now. I suggested if he could look up his database using either the VIN number of my car or my license. To add salt to the already messed situation, he said he does not have access to that database.

He wrote me two tickets - one for moving violation, and the second for no proof of insurance. The first one is the first traffic offense in the past one year, so he said I could get away without getting points on my insurance by doing traffic school. And for the second, I have to go to the court within the next one month and show that I have had the insurance at that point of time - and the second ticket then goes away.

So the scene is, I have go to the court to show my insurance, and then I have to do 4.5 hours of traffic school, that costs like ~ $ 130. Very sad situation :(.

I had been a decent driver all this while - never got any tickets till this one. I always drive within speed limits and have been good at abiding rules to the best of my knowledge. Not even that sleep was a problem - I did Grand Canyon (alone drove to and fro from Tempe) on a Saturday and Las Vegas (alone drove to and fro from Tempe) the Sunday after. And nothing happened - everything was just fine, even though I was kind of tired driving some 1300 miles in two consecutive days.

But I guess sometimes life just simply follows Murphy's law - "whenever anything can go wrong, they will." I saw the empirical proof - I could have just gone home and slept and none of this would have happened!

I hate mistakes in life that I commit. And failing oneself never feels good...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Community Visualization

Your participation on Blogger might have evolved as a part of one of these communities in the diagram above. Each bubble is a community. It is based on some experiments I did.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Moon and the Bread Analogy

Suddenly I got reminded of the following two lines from a famous Bengali poem by Sukanta Bhattacharya,

Khudhar rajjey prithibi goddomoy,
Purnimar chad jeno jholshano ruti

which means,

"Poetry, we do not need you anymore. A world devastated by hunger is too prosaic, The full moon now reminds us of toasted bread"

Life is more of prose than sweet rhythmic poetry. And each of us have some responsibility towards warding off that perception of Moon and bread. The world needs us, some way, sometime, somewhere.


On a lighter note, today I increased my reportaire of cooking greatly. I made "aaloo paratha" meaning Indian flat bread stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes from scratch - getting the atta, kneading it into a dough, rolling and stuffing it and then baking it on a flat pan. Two tips - they go really well with sweet lemon pickle or hot and spicy potato curry. Here is a picture of what I made.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Busy Note...

I don't like myself for not having been able to blog for such a long time! Just that things have been too busy - semester getting over and one of the most important conference's deadline nearing on June 3rd. I am trying my best to make it a good paper.

The idea of black holes / Big Bang kind of singularity based community analysis in social networks is one idea I want to expand upon as well. It sits nicely on my desire to use natural sciences concepts in my research. For that I want to target either of the two conferences, one due on July 10 and the other on August 11. Let us see how it goes. The other motivation for this work is that both these conferences are out of country - one in Syndey and another in Spain. A very big motivation to work harder - now do you see why I am not blogging enough? :P

But I am concentrating on the task at hand. Today has been another of the night-out days - but today I did it without coffee! Yeah, and I am also trying to minimize my addiction for caffeine. Tea is working out to be a good alternative - green tea or some nice Earl Grey without sugar / creamer.

Other things in life, like cooking, sleeping still continues. But have minimized much on shopping! Rest for later!