All members of Precog are destined to achieve their dreams. Precog not only helps to actualize our goals but dares us to think beyond what we believe is “possible”. Under the dynamic leadership of Prof. Ponnurangam Kumaraguru (“PK”), the Alumni of Precog have been able to get into the world’s best universities and secure jobs in the most sought after companies.
I joined Precog in the Summer of 2016 as an Intern – to explore the field of Security and Privacy. I realized that Precog was much more than working on individual projects rather a community where we brainstormed about fresh research ideas. Every week we used to get together in the ‘WhatsUp’ sessions to track our progress and share intriguing challenges. Thanks to the richness of the group – we had members from different colleges and ranging from Bachelors to Ph.D. This diversity provided different viewpoints, guidance, and useful feedback. We also had BM Sessions where we extensively talked about the exciting research work coming up in the community and ways to improve upon them.
My main project was on the analysis of privacy issues with Browser Extensions – how sensitive information can be compromised and the means to detect such violations. We conducted the first comprehensive study of all 43K extensions that were live on the Chrome Web Store. We identified 218 spying extensions affecting 2.4 million users. Further, using Recurrent Neural Nets to learn the patterns of API calls made by these extensions, we found similar behavior in 65 more extensions with 4.2 million installs. This work featured as a news article in The Economic Times and got published at the IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (Euro S&P-2018). At Precog I learned to solve complex challenges leveraging the state-of-the-art techniques. The knack for taking up problems head-on has taken me a long way. After completing my B.Tech. (Hons.) from IIIT-Delhi, I joined the AI for Education team at IBM-Research Labs in 2017.
At the same time, my younger brother (Daksh) took admission in IIIT-Delhi and was equally enchanted by Precog. He joined as the youngest member of the group in his second semester. Since then he has actively worked on multiple research projects collaborating with researchers from IIT-Delhi, IIIT-Hyderabad, and IBM-Research. In 2018 he was selected for Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and contributed to the open source codebase of VLC. At present, he is an integral part of the group and also manages Precog’s website. His passionate involvement with Precog makes me feel I never became an Alum of Precog.
Last year, having acquired academic and industrial research experience, I decided to apply for Graduate school. To my surprise, every top university I aspired for had one or more Precog Alums. Being a strongly knit family, I got personal insights into the culture at these places. Moreover, Prof. PK regularly organized Graduate School Admission sessions with faculties and Alums which tremendously helped me in improving my applications. Prof. PK enthusiastically wrote recommendation letters without limiting us on the number of schools. He spent countless hours writing them and has always been happy to help each one of us. None of us will ever be able to express our heartfelt gratitude for breathing life into our dreams. I recently received an offer from the University of Oxford, to pursue an MS in CS. I credit the success to Prof. PK and the Precog family.
Prof. PK has been the central force in bringing all of us together giving direction and vision to our efforts. The Alums and present members of Precog meet time and again across the globe reminiscing the cherished memories. I am honored to be a part of the Precog Family and look forward to its bright future.