August 29, 2004

Desires unfulfilled.

“Thair sadham Inga” (Curd rice here please), that was the third futile attempt I made to devour my favourite dish to finish my feast with a bang. It however had the same effect as the tehelka issue on India; falling on deaf ears.

It’s definitely an advantage to be the son of the GM of a premier company. I get to attend a lot of ostentatious weddings. The two aspects that make a wedding hit are the females the food. I was satisfied with the former while it was the latter that I suffered with.

The dining halls with dense A/c had many ‘service’ men in professional outfits. It takes a lot of guts to ask one of them for an extra serving; for you’re not sure which one of them is the service guy. You certainly don’t want to end up asking the bridegroom for some extra ‘kurma’. Despite this I raised my guts to ask for my favourite curd rice (slurp! How much I love it). I only succeeded in sending each of them a little further apart every time.

After a while when I looked at my plantain It showed no signs of food being ever placed on it. The guy who sat next to me must have decided that I was a glutton; for he never once looked in my direction.

The most important aspect of servicing is in fact servicing and nothing else. I wished to go back to the time when the bare-chested Brahmins served food; every one got to eat well without feeling shy. While I was lost in my thoughts I heard someone shouting “thair sadham Inga”.

I woke up to wash my hands with a smile on my face.

August 24, 2004

The sorry state of Indian Hockey

The midfielders of the past who could collect and pass on to the strikers while on the move were indeed responsible for the eight olympic gold medals that we gloat about.

It now becomes progressively more embarrassing, especially as an Indian, to note the successive failures of the once powerful team. The team, which once remained a nightmare, runs the risk of being termed mere pushovers. Insipid passes, unnecessary shots at the post (which have as much chance as my grand mom winning a marathon) are responsible for this debilitated image in the global front.

This article, however, is not aimed to take a dig at the abilities of the former powerhouse of the game. It’s about a more serious aspect- their attitude. The Indian hockey team seems to have grasped a lot of ideas from Indian politics. They have mastered the art of pacifying the angry supporters by a heart attack drama, which is so heavily used in the political front. Deepak thakur's admission into the ICU after the loss to New Zealand is certainly an act of cowardice.

They should have been brave enough to accept the ignominy and should have refrained from such low-level acts. The situation now looks fairly simple; Mr. Sunil Dutt will opine "The most important thing in Olympics is not winning, but participating". The issue will be hushed over and will soon be lost in the eternal gloom that surrounds our Indian sporting fraternity.

August 16, 2004

How many marks did your culture score?

Be it Western,Indian or one of those archaic middle-east cultures, its worthiness is gauged purely based on its perfomance.The idea of evaluating one based on materialistic achievements such as the number of nobel prizes won, olympic medals bagged might not appear sane. A few might argue that a culture has nothing to do with the perfomance of an individual,such people understand neither culture nor perfomance.

Culture to a large extent is responsible for modelling an individual's charachter,for its the culture that either permits one to chase the wild dreams or to look out for a secure clerical job.

I beg the reader for some retrospection. Has anyone in your neighbourhood won an olympic medal? a nobel prize? F1 racing? or any other commendable achievement that would've made the other nations to look up at us?

The status of a third world nation is not an excuse(infact we are not a third world country anymore). We certainly dont hail from the deep jungles of congo either. Our country offers good infrastructure such as the IITs. Why then do we fail miserably when it comes to producing results? Much of the reason can be attributed to our culture.

We are a bunch of frogs that live deep inside a well. When one of it wants to jump out and break free the others pull it down, in the name of 'concern'. We are happy to croack eternally.Yes. I am referring to our social structure. Our ambitions and actions dont escape prying eyes of our neighbours. Those inquisitive souls armoured with questions put down our fantasies, even before the seed has started to bud.

"Bungee jumping? Can you make a career out of it? No one will be ready to give their daughter for a bungee jumper." and that leaves us with those two obvious choices -Doctor or an engineer.

Those who believe that our culture has a lot of love and affection to offer others must necessarily understand the difference between pure love and mean selfishness.To use one's influence to get a job for near n dear is not love. Our country would'nt have been a corrupt nation had we showed love to our fellow country men. This leaves us successptible for a forgein invasion even in this era.

Baring a few practises, I strongly feel, Our culture should find the nearest dustbin.

August 12, 2004

Genetic Algorithms-are here to stay

"Everything that can be invented has already been invented" was the famous quote of a scientist named Albert Michaelson in 1894. It was quoted long before some of the powerful inventions of mankind such as atomic bomb,aeroplanes.

Mankind has therefore never been left to feel complascent of its achievements.Time and again a new discovery revolutionises the world and creates a completely new environment for the people to live in.

The mechanical problem solvers,later came to be known as computers, were thought to be a mere science fiction until john von neuman laid down his architecture for a practical computer.It was the turn of the Transistors, in the early 60s, to revolutionise the computing world.The screeching,gigantic mechanical devices were scaled down to 'compact' ones to fit into a room. contemporary inventions in the field of electronics have further helped to diminish their size.

The computers of today have shrunk the world into a single entity,a global village.Information exchange,Email,file sharing would have remained one of those Michael Chriton thingies but for the Internet. Evidently such complex services require complex algorithms that strive to reduce the computing time to a minimum.

The computing problems can be broadly divided into two categories -P(polynomial complexity) and the NP(Non-polynomial complexity). The former class has specific algorithms to solve them efficiently while the conventional algorithms suffer with the latter. One such NP problem is the Travelling Sales Man (TSP) problem which has a time complexity of O(2^n), ie for every addition of a city the complexity of the problem doubles.

It is to tackle such problems that we need a more intelligent approach. An approach that's totally different,since the conventional algorithms have accepted a sullen defeat. A revolutionary concept to combat problems stated above is the Genetic Algorithms(GA).

GA differs from its conventional counterpart in a lot of ways. The solution offered by the GA is unpredictable. Most of the times,however,it gifts its users with an incredibly good solution. Having made the reader come upto this, the author feels a sense of responsibility to bestow him/her with some of his (mis)interpretations of the concept.

A baby baring a few basic instincts,such as sucking the mother's milk(takes a lot of concentration to adhere to the topic),is born naive. It however learns as it grows older. Its intelligence therefore increases with time. GA adpots a similar approach.

The solutions produced in the first generation are quite unacceptable while the one's produced by the later generations are better.Generation 1 therefore consists only of a set of random solutions. One among this is chosen depending on how well it satisfies the fitness function.

Fitness function hence is responsible to select one out of the many samples in a generation. It embodies the concept of Charles Darwin's theory - "survival of the fittest". Once the fitness function is properly defined, the programmer can sit back to watch the program grow intelligent!

After a sample is picked by the above mentioned function, it is subjected to Cross-over and Mutation to give rise to the next generation which is more "intelligent" and adapted to its environment.It is evident that as the number of generations increases the solution obtained gets bettered.

The author feels confident of the immense potential of the GA, atleast until the project work is over, they have certainly come here to stay,more importantly revolutionise.