I have been Precog-ed: Part 2

As I sit down to pen this blog, some wonderful memories put a smile on my face. To provide context for some of the things I am going to mention, here is the first one I wrote. It has been slightly more than three years since I joined Precog and no amount of words can completely express my utter gratitude.

 

Before my emotions overwhelm the words I am about to write, let me briefly summarise what all I have been doing as a Precog-ger. The work I did during my first year at Precog is neatly compiled here. Starting my second year, I worked on a social media analytics tool. This was my beginning into development and I worked on the tool for a year. Currently, I am passively involved with the team working on the tool. In my third summer, I went to University of Southern California as a part of the Viterbi Scholars program by IUSTF. This was my second stint in research. I worked on ‘Understanding the Impact of Demographics on Sociability’ on a Twitter dataset of geo-tagged tweets. The work is still ongoing and I will share more updates on it in my next blog. I am going to dedicate this blog to my experience at USC and how it feels to be a part of the Precog family.

 

After a very long phase of preparations which involved Visa formalities, perfunctory program requirements, and doing some background study about Prof. Kristina Lerman’s field of research (yeah, the nerd in me makes me do such things), I finally landed in Los Angeles. I was with a group of 20 undergrads from all over the country and it was impossible to have a conversation with them that would not involve terms and formulations so complex that the post-discussion phase was spent on Google! Some of the brightest students in the country for sure. I settled in my new apartment, went for my first run that very day and got used to calling that place home for the next two months. How things unfolded then is what led to one of my craziest summers!

 

With Prof. Lerman and Luciano, a post-doc with her, I worked on a big dataset of geo-tagged tweets from Los Angeles, using which we studied sociability patterns in Twitter interactions. We also analysed what factors affected how people socialize.  The work is ongoing. I was gleeful about the amount of analysis I could complete and the results we got. While my weekdays went toiling at the Information Sciences Institute at Marina Delray, every weekend was reserved for travelling and exploring the city. Over the summer I went to Las Vegas, San Francisco, Palo Alto and other areas around Los Angeles. I stayed for a long weekend at Stanford; coincidentally, I was there during the graduation ceremony. Vegas was as happening as a place can be. Considering the amazing people I met in these two months, new culinary episodes, backpacking adventures and ultimately half a dozen items off my checklist, I felt accomplished as a traveler. ^_^

 

Now I am back for my last year at IIIT-Delhi. For me, an integral part of IIIT is the Ph.D. lab on the 4th floor right opposite to PK’s room, which is where my Precog journey began. I have learnt so much from my interactions with the Ph.D.s and RAs. I remember having a conversation with Kristina, when she was impressed about my knowledge of the field being a third year undergrad. I owe that moment to these lessons. Every email, every conversation, every What’s Up (weekly update sessions at Precog) has added to my skills. Intellectual heartwarming people are difficult to find, but at Precog there is no dearth.

 

Often students ask me how to be a part of the group and I tell them – all you need to have is a willingness to learn and to work hard, because that is what has made my journey so memorable and rewarding. Here are a few pictures from my summer.

 

During the poster presentation at USC..

At the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
While fountain hopping in Stanford University..
At Las Vegas, Nevada!