#IIITDStudentsRock in Europe!

It is amazing to see IIITD students going places. In the last 3 months I met many students / Alums of IIITD in different parts of Europe. It almost feels like, I can find a IIITD alum in most major cities that I travel. #LovingMyFacultyLife Here I present IIITD ambassadors who are making a difference in the world, listing them in reverse chronological order of meeting with them. Thanks to each one of them for taking time to catch up. 

Zurich –  About a week before my visit, I did this search on Facebook, “my friends in zürich” something I do very regularly before I visit a city! Below are 2 students whom I met there (more details about them and my connections with them). Below is a pic with Mridula and Aritra during my visit.

  • Mridula SinghGraduated from IIITD with an M.Tech. in 2014. She has taken my CSE 645: Privacy and Security in Online Social Media course. She started Ph.D. at ETH Zurich in May 2016. She spent the time 2014 – 2016 in Xerox Research Centre in India (XRCI); many of our ambassadors are at XRCI, including my own Ph.D. student, Paridhi Jain
  • Aritra Dar : Graduated from IIITD with an M.Tech. in 2015. Started Ph.D. at ETH Zurich in May 2016. He has never taken a class with me, but he was a member of Cybersecurity Education and Research Centre (CERC)He also spent his time 2015 – 2016 in Xerox Research Centre in India (XRCI). 

My host in ETH Zurich is the Ph.D. advisor for both Mridula and Aritra, he was so happy with the performance of both of them. He appreciated the skills that both had and was very happy to have them as his Ph.D. students. As a faculty, we are always pleased to hear good things about our students.

During this visit to ETH, I also realized, in addition to direct influence or impact by a faculty, how much of indirect influence or impact that a faculty can have on students of his / her institute. My host in ETH mentioned [paraphrased] “I would not have looked at Mridula and Artira’s Ph.D. admission application, if I did not know PK. IIIT Delhi is not an institute which ETH was aware of, and I had to do some paperwork to get Mridula & Aritra admitted.” Both Mridula and Artitra are not my students, and I did not write a letter of recommendations for them too.  I was more than elated and happy to hear this and realized the indirect influence.

I met with Prateek Gaur and Srishty Grover in Berlin.

  • Prateek Gaur : Graduated from IIITD with a B.Tech. in 2012, our first batch of B.Tech. 🙂 He finished his Masters, Information Technology for Business Intelligence from Technische Universität Berlin, Germany. He is currently working as a Senior Data Engineer at Automotive Startup in Berlin. Prateek has taken many of my courses in the first 3 years at IIITD, like, Research Methods, and Foundations of Computer Security
  • Srishty GroverGraduated from IIITD with a B.Tech. in 2013. She is currently finishing her MBA from Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, New Delhi. As part of her MBA she was in Berlin at ESCP Europe and now is interning at Eurosender in Berlin. Srishty has also taken many of my courses, including CSE 501: Designing Human Centred Systems, and Foundations in Computer Security. 
Below is a picture with Prateek & Srishty.
  • Megha AroraFinished her B.Tech. at IIITD this year, 2016. She is currently interning at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva, Switzerland. She is heading to CMU in mid Aug to do her Masters in Computer Science incidentally my Alma Mater too! She had a paper to present at 10the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-16) in Cologne, Germany. I was also attending the conference. Here is a blog that Megha wrote about her paper presentation and here are the Slides of her talk! Megha has taken almost all courses from me and she has actually spent the last 3+ years with Precog. Below is a picture with Megha outside the venue of the conference. 
  • Aditya GulatiGraduated from IIITD with a B.Tech. in 2014. Spent some time in Industry, now doing Masters in Saarland University and he is focussing on HCI. He told me that he has taken CSE 501: DCHS course that I teach in campus. In his own words “I still remember and value HCI lecture[s] offered by you” #satisfying Below is the picture that Aditya and I took in front of the MPI-SWS building (see the IIITD Tshirts both of us are wearing). 
  • Denzil CorreaHe started his Ph.D. at IIITD on the same day as I started my faculty job at IIITD. I remember the first interactions with him (or should I say ‘they’, and I am sure they remember the interactions better than me, right Samarth? Kuldeep? Himanshu?) Graduated from IIITD in 2015, spent some time as Post-Doc at MPI-SWS and now joins as a Data Scientists @ Bayer. I met him in MPI during his last week / day @ MPI. Below is the picture of Denzil (top left in a black tshirt) with Precogs in one of our outings in 2011 while he was still a student at IIITD. 

I plan to try and connect with students while traveling, something that I have started doing in the recent past. We did a small get together of all IIITD alums in summer 2015 in Bengaluru, below is a picture from meetup. Thanks to all the students who take time to catch up when I travel. Interestingly, I just realized that, Mridula, Aritra, Samarth, Himanshu,  and Kuldeep mentioned in this post are in this picture!

P.S. I request all students of IIITD to update their current city on Facebook, I missed meeting with a student in one of the cities that I visited here recently, because I did not know she was living there 🙁 I would have really loved to catch up with her! I got to know about her being there only a few days after my visit.

P.S. I missed mentioning about the IIITD ambassadors in Singapore; met with them on Nov 5, 2015. Thanks to Priyanshi Mittal, Vibhas Kumar, Jatin Kumar and Ankit Sarkar for taking time in meeting with me. Below is a pic from the meet up.


Gracias Precog

Hi All!,  As I am about to finish my B.Tech in Computer Science. I feel this is the perfect time for me to pen down my story of association with Precog. It’s an experience described in 3 Stages:

Stage 1 : Getting Introduced to Precog                      [First year, Second Semester]

It was during my second semester in Probability and Statistics(P&S) course when I got introduced to Precog Research Group. P&S was my  first course taken under Dr. PK. I clearly remember, while Dr. PK was  taking our class, I saw Prateek Sir entering lecture hall from the front-right door and he was carrying our quiz question papers. Along with the  quiz papers, I had noticed that the  T-shirt  he was wearing had a logo named “Precog”. And then within next few minutes,our head TA, Srishti Gupta entered the hall wearing the  same  T-Shirt. I wondered what is so special about “Precog”. Is it a conference , company or a brand?? (That time, I had no clue of research groups @ IIIT-Delhi).

After attending all my lectures, I sat  down in the cafeteria and searched about “Precog”.And that’s when I realized that Precog is a research group which is run under  Dr. PK. I had looked each and every page of Precog website. Then I skimmed through personal websites and LinkedIn profiles of all core members.In short, I “stalked Precog” for about an hour. After looking at the projects like “Finding Nemo” or “Call me Maybe”, I felt very motivated towards working on problems related to social media particularly.And so, I decided to do projects in this field.

Stage 2 : Approaching Precog -The First time.     [Second year, Fourth Semester]

As I had stalked Precog, I knew who were the core members and whom to contact first. I remember spending an hour with Paridhi Ma’am  in the common room of Girls’ hostel talking just about Dr. PK and projects in  Precog. She told me to mail Sir and ask for an appointment .She focused that my mail should be “short and effective” enough to impress PK Sir. So, I had emailed him hoping that he would consider my application.And Yes! he called me for an interview. During my interview, he marked that there would be a selection process where I would have to submit my resume  and SOP…Isn’t somewhat similar to MS application? Oh Yes! except that, you don’t need LORs here.

On PreCog website, there was a section where I had uploaded all my required documents. After 2 weeks or so, I got a mail with the subject “ Application Decision”  from Niharika Sachdeva. With a lot of excitement, I opened the mail which stated“I should apply again next year.” I felt dejected at that point of time. But then, I decided to look for other opportunities in Security field. So, I landed up having an internship in CERC@IIITD under Dr. A V Subramanyam.

Stage 3 : Finally Precog-ger!!                                                 [Third and Fourth Year]

In the fifth semester, during Foundations of Computer Security course, one of my batch mates told me about PreCog openings.I applied again but with not much expectations. After few weeks, yet again, Niharika Ma’am had sent me a mail but this time, with  a different subject as “Interaction and interview with Precog member”. So, now finally after two rounds of interview, I had a chance to do BTP under the supervision of Dr. PK. My BTP project was on “Detecting Obscene Content on YouTube” where I had worked  with  Payal Bajaj from Adobe Research, Bangalore, and Rishabh Kaushal. My work mainly focused on real-time detection of obscene content on youtube videos used for parenting purpose using Deep Learning. I had developed Deep CNN model to detect abrupt transitions having obscene content in cartoon videos in real-time with 81.4 % accuracy. I must say, this period of BTP was knowledge gaining plus fun-filled experience.

I would like to highlight the following  points about Precog and why I still cherish my times here:

  • People over here are friendly and they treat you like a family. You can crack jokes, ask for help anytime and do party.

  • The knowledgeable-cool bunch of researchers works on interesting- complex problems.

  • Dr. PK  helps us in  dealing with professional matters and always intends to show us the correct path. Thank you Sir!

  • When you are at PreCog, you will realize the actual meaning of  “Workload” And I  mean it.

  • Apart from project-related emails, Dr. PK  used to send us inspirational quotes. I have jotted down a few them:

             a). “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.”

             b). ”Good Scientists Solve Problems, but Great Scientists know What’s Worth                          Solving”                      

  • Fun- part : You will be a part of  “Pizza Parties” and BBQ visitsSo it’s like “Work Hard  & Have Fun”.

I would like to owe my sincere gratitude to PK Sir, Rishabh Sir, and all PreCog members for helping me throughout.Now, time is approaching  to  leave IIITD and move on to pursue higher studies at UMBC.But this couldn’t have been possible without being a Precog-ger.

This blog isn’t enough for me to pen down my learning experience@ PreCog and with PK Sir. So here are some  pics to describe my association:

Meetup with Dr.PK
PSOSM poster session