Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fresh posts

Dear readers,
I have moved my blog post to wordpress. You can continue reading new posts (at Poisson firing rate) here

Thanks and regards

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lapidoth's talk: Matched filter done right

Today as part of EPFL annual research day, there were 3 interesting talks. In the morning Prakash Narayan gave a very interesting talk titled "Common randomness, multiuser secrecy and tree packing". Essentially it covered three distinct problems and he showed a connection among the three. The first problem setup is the following: A set of terminals observe separate but correlated signals. The classical Slepian and Wolf formulation of the data compression then is essentially the problem where a subset of the given terminals seeking to acquire the signals observed by all the terminals. And this is done by means of efficiently compressed interterminal communication. This is a problem of generating common randomness. This ofcourse does not involve any secrecy constraints. Now suppose a secret key generation problem. There the same subset of terminals seek to devise ``secret'' common randomness or a secret key through public communication. Assume here that an eavesdropper can observe this. So the setup is such that the key is concealed from the eavesdropper. Such a secret key can be used for subsequent encryption. Prakash's talk was then to explain the connection between the two problems. He went on to establish the connection to a problem in computer science namely the maximal packing og Steiner trees in an associated multi graph. I dont think I figured out the details that well, but it triggered some curiosity to read the work a little more detail. I hope to do that sometime soon.

The afternoon session had two talks. One was by Shamai who talked about Broadcast approach in communication systems. It went over time. I thought I focussed well in the beginning to follow him, but partly because of the post lunch effect and partly because of the tiredeness I lost the flow. From what I understood, he outlined a lot of communication scenarios incorporating the broadcast strategy. Some examples were MIMO rate diversity trade off, ARQ, multilayer schemes etc. A lot the work seems to have gone in this direction, especially Suhas and Sanked etc (from the citation) and David Tse, Zheng Al-Dahir and Shamey himself. I am somewhat amazed by the areas Shamai worked on. He seems to have covered a broad spectrum of research and yet produced some stellar work.

After Shamai, it was an interesting talk by Amos Lapidoth. He presented handsomely. I was attentive enough to follow this. Also, it happened to be a talk of different kind. He talked about the well known Matched filter used in communication. He sort of started with a little story. The story of a man from a village, venturing out of that place with a mission to find the meaning of life. So he goes to the mountains with a resolve not to come back until he finds the meaning of life. So days passed, months passed and years passed. Even after 10 years no sign of him. Finally he comes back after 11 years or so. The whole village feels curious: Aha he has come back. They ask him, wow, you have figured out the meaning of life. Please share us what is it? He says, with a pause: Life is (he pauses again).... : Villages out of patience ask him, : " You please go on .. life is ...". The man completes and says " Life is like a train!". Then they ask what you mean by "life is like a train". Then to the surprise of the entire village he says, "may be not!".

That was simply amazing a prelude for the talk. The talk abstract is the following:
One of the key results of Digital Communications can be paraphrased very roughly as follows: "in guessing which of two deterministic signals is being observed in white Gaussian noise, the inner products between the observed waveform and each of the signals form a sufficient statistic. Consequently, it is optimal to base one's decision on these two inner products." It is surprising that this basic result is never formulated as a theorem in any of the textbooks on the subject. This may be because of the difficulties in defining white Gaussian noise, in defining sufficient statistics for waveform observations, and in relating sufficiency to optimal detection. In this talk I shall describe a number of approaches to formulating the above statement as a theorem and point out some of their shortcomings. I will finally describe my proposed approach, formulate the theorem, and prove it from first principles. The proposed approach does not rely on the Ito Calculus, on Brownian Motion, or on generalized stochastic processes. It does not introduce non-physical infinite-power noise processes. Moreover, it is suitable for rigorously treating colored noise.

He gave a counter example where we can do better than matched filter. He says a Gaussian noise, but choose a point at random where the noise is made zero. Since it is randomly chosen (the null point) he claims it is still Gaussian. To me, that will result in SNR to blow up to infinity. So, are we missing something. I cant wait to read the full paper presentation of this. Otherwise, it seem to be a very very interesting way to look at matched filter, without needing the sojourn mathematical machinery.

Anyway all these talks are available (schedule at the moment) at [1]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

iFixit: iPhone-3G inside view

iFixit [1] did a rather fast job with providing an inside view [2] of the latest sensation iPhone-3G. They have done a superb job indeed. I was expecting Infineon to have a major presence in the 3G phone and to some extend Samsung as well, but this time it was the latter's SDRAM. You can read the details from [1]. I would rather strongly recommend you to! Here is the summary of the winners (number of chips listed after the maker):
Broadcom 1,Infineon 4,Intel 1,Linear Technology 1,Marvell 1,National Semiconductor 1,NXP 1,Samsung 1,Skyworks 1 (Man I wish this resurrect them),SST 1,ST Microelectronics1,Toshiba 1,Triquint 3 (Wow!),Wolfson 1.

Broadcom, Samsung and Infineon were expected. The surprise winners to me are Triquint and Skyworks. I wish this came earlier for Skyworks! If you look at Conexant at the moment (Skyworks spun off from Conexant earlier) it is pretty mazing how some leads turned up for them. Well, the market is quite demanding anyway. Ah, the surprise emission to me is CSR. I expected atleast for bluetooth they would have a winner there, but Marvell outwitted them with Bluetooth and WLAN!
Apparently, the pricing of this phone is pretty well done by Apple! Interestingly, there was huge rush even in Lausanne (Switzerland) where Swisscom had some offering day before yesterday.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Best of Man booker and the award goes to...

To me there was never a slim doubt on who this should go to. The one and only Salman Rushdie deservingly got this. Well, I am referring to the best of Booker award set up on the 40th anniversary of the Man booker prize. Hearing the announcement, this is what he said (in reply to a question),
"I really have no regrets about any of my work. This is, as I say, an honour not for any specific book but for a very long career in writing and I'm happy to see that recognized".
Let us also recollect that the same book (Midnight's Children), besides winning the Booker Prize in 1981 had also won the Booker of Bookers in 1993, which marked to honour the best Booker Prize winner in the first 25 years of the award. Now, this is still the best in 40 years. Pretty cool!

Aside, I am reading an interesting book now. A picked it from a friend's place last week and I found it a very very interesting read. The Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini, tells an amazing story. I am mid way through the book and I surely am going to write more about this later. As of now, I leave to remark that the book is about a young boy Amir born in an affluent family, who regrets in his later life for all the trouble he made to his trusted poor friend. I am thrilled by the story telling power of the writer. Simply superb (so far atleast). Interestingly, I saw a French translation of this book in one of the student house, a few weeks back. I am glad that, now I happily read the readable version!

Indian media: Too much of sensationalism

I don't get to watch Indian television daily, but I still keep an eye on them once in a while by visiting their websites. The two sites I visit so are CNN-IBN and NDTV. These are sort of the two large English visual media in India. For the last one month or so, one issue (other than perhaps the left Congress party fiasco over the proposed nuclear deal with the united states) widely flashed is a murder of a young teenage girl Arushi in Noida, a suburb of Delhi. The unfortunate girl apparently had to pay an innocent life to the cruel world of cunning and sheer callousness. The callousness of the cruel people leave the society to a state of shock and uneasiness. A sense of fear is invited all around. But my point is none of these.
I am appalled by the way the Indian media went about sensationalizing this news. I can understand the many soap Indian yellow news channels (most of the Hindi news channels are just that) going this way. The two celebrated Indian news channels NDTV and CNN-IBN are just no better. Day in and out their journalists competed to present a set of tabloid style news with the quest to attract the greedy readers and audience. I say this with utter disappointment. Here is a girl, the only child to their parents and she is lost. There is investigation on going. It is a basic courtesy not to write stories about the victim's family without having enough substance to what they talk about. News readers and media can talk senselessly on any topic and feel happy for it. Their flash news are spread across the country like tabloids. There must be some integrity and social responsibility before they venture into such silly acts. I dont have a problem when they expose any irregularities in the investigation or any cover up. But they should not air their verdict as if they are the supreme, even before doing a proper evidence collection. After saying nonstop incorrect stories about the family, now they can simply accuse the police and CBI for all what happened. Look at the family. They lost her daughter, they are portrayed as villain to the public, they lost their social reputation and health. Man this is agonizing. Police and CBI can be questioned, later on for all wrong doing. They can still be brought to justice, for any harm they created, but who can question or challenge the media? They offer all kind of accusations, but they are the one who enjoy the freedom to tarnish anyone of their choice. This is not a good going for the channels which claim to have reputed journalists. Pity!

Wimbledon final, you beauty!

Of late I have been so hard pressed for time that, my blogging has gone for a severe miss. Several things I wanted to write. The last 9 months or so, have been extremely tight to do anything to change it. But 2008 Wimbledon final:-I cant stop evading. It was one of the finest match I have ever seen, let alone in Wimbledon. Borg and McEnroe says this is the best final in Wimbledon and I couldnt disagree. How can I. When Nadal lost the last year edition, it was pretty close too. It was a case of no-one lost scenario. This year, however I have to say Nadal deserved it better. Federer, the champion we all know (and my favourite since Sampras) did what he is capable of: Making an amazing comeback to the verge of a turnaround. But the champion Nadal showed strength to beat Fedex in his comfort zone. One thing I am glad. Now there is some serious challenge for the championship. It never looked nice to have an easy gameover for the number one seed. I thought Fedex was not challenged enough over the years. This by no means is to diminish the class of my favourite player, but it appeals better when a champion comes out after stiff challenges. Sampras'e era to me that way was truly amazing. He fought against a series of champions, notably Agassi and Rafter (in grass mainly) and many others. He could never afford to relax against any of the seeded (even unseeded) players. Yet Sampras won 7 Wimbledon. Fedex was all set to achieve that number or may be even surpass, until recently. In the latest scenario, we have to wait and see how precious is to say that someone has won seven Wimbledon titles. This place an altitudes of sort to place Sampras among the pantheon of sports greats.

Coming back, to the Fedewx-Nadal final, I thought Fedex was not out of form at all. He served awesome and his backhand was as good as ever. Nadal served to Fedex body most of the time and he was aggressive from start as well. Because of the superior serve, Fedex always have this advantage on break points. If you look otherwise, Nadal owed more points and thus deservingly the champion. In the end, I am so glad to see the sort of respect they have for each other. Fedex humbly admitted and gave credits to Nadal, while Nadal was quick to praise Federer as the champion and as number one. Man, sporting spirit taken to a level. I am glad and happy that I follow this sport.

Aside, it has been a while I played tennis. The swiss summer is pretty nice, but my partner Adrian is away in Romania. May be I will get to play a bit in India during August-September. Exercise has been missing for a while. May be an hour of running around the lake side until Maladiere is a good idea. I need to plan my sleep and schedule to get that going. I hope I can do something about it soon starting next week.

Information theoretic Inequalities prover

Last winter along with my colleagues Etienne Perron and Professor Suhas Diggavi, we have developed a tool suit to prove inequalities in information theory. The tool is adapted from the previous work of Raymond Yeung and Ying-On Yan at Cornell. We have made it a complete C based software and removed the matlab dependency in the back end. There is also a pre-parser (using lex and yacc) built in to have flexibility on choosing random variable names. More importantly, a graphical front end is developed (using Gtk), which works well across the platform. Even though the beta version was ready in late 2007, for many reasons, including exhaustive testing (we always find scope for improvement) it was delayed. Last month, we finally made an official release. The original xitip project page in IPG has a short description and pointer to the exclusive Xitip page in EPFL ( A lot of things still need to be done, before we could say it is satisfactory. One of the main thing pending is the user guide and some kind of exemplified documentation. There is a technical report, I have prepared, but that is a bit too technical at the moment. Of course Raymond yeung's amazing papers introducing the theoretical idea behind this prover and his book are valuable resources. I have tried to provide a little more easy understanding of the concept using some illustration and toy examples. I hope to put this report anyway in the EPFL repository sometime.
The software is open source. If you are not bothered to compile and make an executable yourself, then please download the binary executable and just run. It is just a matter of double click in the latter case. We have Linux, Windows, Windows(Cygwin) and Mac versions available. There are two different linear programming software used. One is a Gnu open source GLPK and the other one is Qsopt (developed at Gatech). The Qsopt version is faster than the GLPK. Just in case you are obsessed with a perfect open source model, you could avail the GLPK [5] version.

Hopefully during this summer we will get to complete the pending work on this project. If any of you happen to find it interesting please don't forget to update us, on what you though about the software (Comments can be good, bad and ugly!).

Aside, I better mention this: Xitip is a software useful for proving (verifying) Information theoretic inequalities [7] only. Such inequalities contain expressions involving measures such as entropy, mutual information etc. It is a pretty handy tool if you are trying to prove some limiting bounds in information theory. In reality, there is broad classification of Shannon type and non-Shannon type inequalities. Non-Shannon type inequalities are not many, but they exist. Xitip at the moment is equipped to solve only the Shannon type inequalities. You can expect more information on this at the Xitip home page [2]


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"la computadora" or "el computador"

I got this as Email forward. Superb creation, whoever conceived this original idea! I am curious to know who created this one:-)

Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

"House" for instance, is feminine: "la casa."
"Pencil," however, is masculine: "el lapiz."

A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"
Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun.

Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora") because:
1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic.
2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.


The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador") because:
1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on.
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves.
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time, the ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meeting the Internet evangelist

I have never thought I could meet an evangelist, let alone the one for internet. It so happened that, day before was such a day to the contrary. On Friday I had one of those rare opportunities to meet one of the founding fathers of the internet, Vint Cerf, who has this bizarre title 'Google's internet evangelist'. He told the story behind the title as well. When Google asked him to join the company, he was given the option to chose the title. He had the name duke of internet in mind, but then someone warned that a similar name triggered world war1. Then came this name. Well, there was also a bizarre (well, I seems to have got this bug of using this word too often, after listening to Emre Telarar) photograph of his first day in Google office. It was funny indeed.

Now, he took the EPFL audience to a highly enthralling talk filled with unique humour and history of the internet evolution and packet data transmission, and finally into some extra terrestrial feasibility of spreading the internet. Not surprisingly and octogenarians listener asked him whether we could eventually meet God one day and is that God Google itself?

Some of the interesting things he said, that would be seen in the internet evolution are
1) An Internet refrigerator
2) A space internet

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Last friday (5th October) there was this event named Spunik50@EPFL here in EPFL. The idea was largely to celebrate the remarkable scientific glory of the Sputnik launch, 50 years ago, which in many ways influenced scientific research in many fields, including communication and signal processing. But then Why EPFL? Incidentally, the EPFL Professor Martin Vetterli was also born on that Sputnik launch day. His friends and colleagues thus couldn't have thought of a better place and date to say Happy Bday to him.

Since it was happening right under my noise and being free, it didn't hurt me to go and attend the series of presentations, by some leading researchers. Most of the topic of discussion happened to be in image processing,but there were few interesting connections to my interest in communication as well, especially the one from Kannan Ramachandran from Berkeley, when he talked about 'being unorganized" and "gossiping"

The event also presented me a chance to meet Professor Gilbert Strang. His influence on me is more than what I could describe in few lines or pages. I have began to appreciate linear algebra much more than I ever comprehended to be. He was a very nice person as well to talk. He gladly obliged to chat for a few minutes and I felt good to have got that opportunity. The pleasantness in his face reminiscent itself to the way he gets involved while giving the lecture.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Euclid's division theorem

Would you imagine a theorem invented as early as 600 BC is still used widely? Jim Massey in his course notes mentions that, this is the single most important theorem in mathematics (applied math as well) which stood against the test of this long a time gap. Frankly, I began to appreciate it more now (with the Abstract algebra course currently going...). Barely ever I had an idea that this is invented in the BC. However, the algorithm was probably not discovered by Euclid and it may have been known up to 200 years earlier. Historians claim that Aristotle was aware of this fact (which is 330 BC or so)

Since we are in the age of programming, let us write the algorithmic steps, rather than the math: The original algorithm of Euclid is,
function gcd(a, b)
while b ≠ 0
if a > b
a := a - b
b := b - a
return a
But we can simply write this in modern algebraic terms as
function gcd(a, b)
if b = 0 return a
else return gcd(b, a mod b)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Reached EPFL Lausanne

This morning, finally I managed to reach Lausanne.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tribute to Pavarotti

One of the greatest opera singer has left us. Sad to hear that Luciano Pavarotti left this world today, after fighting valiantly against cancer for a long time.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wimax drive

Looks like the year 2007 has cleared quite a bit of progress in Wimax chip development and entered the deployment stage. Even though there were hopes and at the same time skepticism about the realization of Wimax, this year has seen progressive signs of the product evolving to get integrated onto the notebooks and PDAs. Initially since the standardization phase, the big leaders emerged included Intel, Fujitsu, Samsung and few others. Thanks the big buy out of Flarion by Qualcomm, the latter must surely be having the cake ready as well. There were also very promising startup ventured to develop the Wimax chipsets for the CPE side. I am not quite sure whether there is any startup working full fledged, all alone to develop the co/network side solution. I have so far heard of Beceem, Altair, GCT and Runcom which are promising focussed startup houses develeoping and deploying the IEEE 802.16e chipsets. Among this Beceem is one company, where some of my former colleagues and friends working.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The broadcom qualcomm fight

The simmering legal battle between Broadcom and Qualcomm are not yet over. Rather, it gets hotter day by day. These two fine communication firms have engaged themselves into a fight which was initially perceived as just another patent battle between two rivals, which is somewhat usual in the high tech industry off late. The Synopsys-Magma was one prominent fight which had stung and stuck for sometime, until recently when Magma gave up the suit, realising that, it was a case of 'giving the stick and getting the whack'.

In the Broadcom-Qualcom case, Broadcom's concern is the way Qualcomm is monopolizing the CDMA technology leading to 3G cellular phones. According to them [1] the licensing arrangements of Qualcomm failed to provide fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory licensing terms to users of technology incorporated into telecommunications industry standards. Broadcom asserted that Qualcomm's licensing abuses included charging discriminatory royalties, collecting double royalties and demanding overly broad cross-license rights from its licensees, among other things.


The fun of quizzing: A touch here and there

Last week I conducted couple of quizzing events in Bangalore. One at the apartment and the other at office. It is after quite a long gap, I ventured into this nostalgic event. It was fun recollecting some from my old notebooks and some I added with the context in mind. Of course the level of questions were all prepared for not strict quizzers but enthusiastic folks. In the end both the events turned out to be good. In Fairmont, some genuine quizzers were in and that made it more interesting, but overall a satisfying experience. Since the few ones I conducted in Synopsys, it was worth a try. The days of weekly quizzing at REC and inter-college events all came to my mind.
I am not sure, whether my rational to quit quizzing in 2000 for the mere waste of time and insufficient depth in topic were all quite true. If I were to look back, the fun of quizzing created a huge data structure of events and topics where in I began to appreciate depth in few of the subject of my interest. If I were to be back in high school and undergrad, I should still do this. The fun of knowing this world, the people and the trivia are little too much to resist.

I composed the list I prepared for these events. They are uploaded here [1]

Some of the sample questions used are:
  1. Ys was an opulent mythical city. It was believed to be the most wonderful city in the world. When the city collapsed and the Romans decided to build a modern city, they wanted the newer one to be as equal if not more to Ys, in opulence and magnificence. The native ethnic Britons and the Romans thus called the new city by this name, as it is known today. Which city am I talking about?
  2. This company was established in 1865 as a pulp, paper and rubber company on the bank of a river, from which the town and the company name itself derived. The name of the river itself originated from a dark fury animal which was known in the local language as the word, now given to the company. Knut Fredrick Idstam started this company. Later in the 1970s they have decided to venture into Communications and stormed into the world leadership. Which company am I talking about?
  3. Could you please tell me who the person on screen is? What is the significance of this presentation: Double points at stake: The 'e' is written little differently!

  1. Who said these words and to whom: I am speaking with you from the Oval Office of the White House and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made?
  2. This drink was originally named Bib-Label Lemon soda. Its inventor then considered and rejected 6 alternative names before deciding on the final name. Which drink?
  3. Edvige Antonia Albina Maino attended a certificate course in English at The Bell Educational Trust's language school in the city of Cambridge. There, she met her future husband who was studying at Trinity College, Cambridge. Her marriage to him in 1968 took her life on a course that would later see her being named as the" Third most powerful woman in the world" by the Forbes magazine in 2004. Identify the couple.
  4. These are some of the facts about this company. Dead give away cluesJ
    The capital amount collected – $2718281828 , Natural Logarithm, Napier constant e = 2.718281828
    The total number of shares floated during initial public offer – 14142135 ( Square root of 2 = 1.4142135)
    Total number of shares offered during second round of IPO – 14159265 (Pi = 3.14159265)

Just name this company

  1. In an effort to put together the perfect tennis player, World Tennis magazine once chose the arms of Martina Navratilova, the hands of Stefan Edberg, the shoulders of Gabriela Sabatini, the
    torso of Ivan Lendl the mind of Michael Chang and my legs. Who am I?
  2. Cricket: Listen carefully though! Tell me, who is the only bowler who credit to have dismissed all the opposite side batsmen in a test match (Dismissed all the 11 players in either or both innings).
  3. Identify this city (See the image):
  4. By 1907, the term began to show up in high-profile women's magazines and eventually, around 1912, it appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary. Which term. The word derives from an Old French word meaning "arm protector" and referring to military uniform. This later became used for a military breast plate, and later for a type of woman's corset. Which term?
  5. I was born in 1852. My passions were mostly elliptic functions, integral equations, quadratic reciprocity, number theory etc. Unfortunately I was living my life during which there were lots of political struggle in France. I do believe that mathematics and research should not be influenced by Politics. As a result of my refusal to vote for the government's candidate in 1824 my pension was stopped and I died in poverty." This is what Abel had to say about me after my death. "He is an extremely amiable man, but unfortunately as old as the stones". "I believe that I am quite highly respected in the Higher mathematics world these days.". Who is this prolific mathematician?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Plastic ban

It is indeed heartening to hear that Kerala government imposed a ban on plastic. The ban has come to effect from 20th August 2007[1]. In the recent times, the havoc created by plastics on the ecology and environment in many parts of India necessitates this ban. Studies points out that, the flooding in Mumbai itself had its root cause stemmed to the drains locked by plastics bags. These plastic bags are very common all over from vegetable vendors to supermarket shopping, to carry the goods. Kerala has shown out a good example here and every state must follow this suit and impose restriction on usage of plastics. It is not very surprising that Kerala came out first with this new law to protect the environment and to some extend the livelihood of people. In the past, they had came out to ban smoking in public places. This rule is quite strictly implemented in this tiny state. I heard a real life incident when the police caught someone smoking near an (minor) accident spot in a hilly village road and fined him Rs. 500. From what I heard so far, the plastic rule is already enforced not only in towns and municipality areas, but also in remote villages, where village authorities randomly inspect plastic wastes dumped or abandoned in any locality. I hope this gets serious notice and let us hope that the rule stay on.

The plastic is such a messy waste that, most of the places in Bangalore are filled with the polythene covers. Many open garbages in the residential areas have piles of plastics. Interestingly some reports says that, the wandering cows in the city limits (I wonder why they are freely allowed to do so!) have their stomach filled with chunks of plastics. These cows easts the vegetable waste from garbage cylinders with lumps of plastic covers. This startling revelation came out when some of these cows were operated by the veterinary surgeons. A hugely worrying fact is that, their health is taken for a ride merely because of the insane attitude of we humans.


The class batsman Tendulkar

"Like Lara, he has scored runs all over the world. I have seen him run down the pitch and hit Glenn McGrath over the top for six, and I have seen him hit me for six against the spin going around the wicket"
When the best spinner of all time, who has ever played the game of cricket says this, it means there is more than substance to it. Surely, Shane Warne knows what he is talking about. Anyone who has seen the Tendulkar era would rate him as one of the best batsman of his time, if not more. So, in my reading, Shane Warne got his assessment very neatly right. As the legendary spinner remarked, Tendulkar and Lara are two of the finest batsmen played during his playing era and there is only fine line separate these two. I personally, don't prefer to separate them. To me, both of them complimented very well, and at times very similar too. One a right hand bat, the other left handed. One more flamboyant, the other text book perfect. Both attacking and times impossible to dismiss. One had the expectation of a billion people, while the other was more rebellious and often busy composing a symphony of his own class and date with destiny.

In some way, this assessment of Shane warne must be kept along with the very similar remark Don Bradman made about Tendulkar ten years back. He was equally candid to state that Tendulkar was one current batsman, who nearly resembled the Don himself in technique and stroke play. Now, we have the two best best players of all time, one batsman and the other bowler agreeing when it comes to the finest batsman since Bradman. Not many would disagree. If they do, then it lacks substance and proper reasoning. If you really look at the critics of Tendulkar, they are all guys who pass remarks based on 2 or 3 failures in a series. For example, when India exited the 2007 world cup in the very first round, there were furies and sounds for his head. Mind you, only he was targeted. What is the rational for such huge clamour? He played 3 innings and scored only one 50. True, he failed in two innings and one of the loss was enough to pack the bags. That is not quite the reason to singularly blame a batsman of his class for the exit. Common fans reactions at times are expected because the expectations from Tendulkar when he go to bat for India is beyond what words could describe. They want him to score at least a 100 in fewer balls with a minimum of few sixes and some down the lane whack. They want him to this every single time he go out to bat. In the hey days, Tendulkar could hit Mcgrath for sixes with consistency, but that is not going be a practical norm for every match. To add more masala there will be occasional senseless remarks by people like Kapil Dev, who out of the blue try to belittle him with remarks like 'He never lived up to expectation'. Firstly, he gets it wrong when he uses the word 'never'. Perhaps he didn't drop in intentionally. Hindi to English translation perhaps change the meaning of the content considerably. Perhaps, but I don't know! Secondly, he must understand that, it is easy to throw wild criticism without facts. Someone become hero not because he/she does something once in a blue moon. They build on to prove their mettle time and again, over a considerable test of time. In Tendulkar case as well, he earned the respect of millions of cricket lovers because of the sheer performance on cricket field. Let us admit and enjoy his game, as much as you can.

Tendulkar and Lara are once in a while phenomena. Unfortunately Lara is not there in the big scene anymore. Thankfully we still have Tendulkar, at least for a few more years. While he is there we can cherish for some class on a cricket field. By no means, we can expect him to be a machine to do a routine bash job like a quad core processor. When he does it, it is one of those 'making it feel better' proud moments to enjoy a sport. Let us appreciate those moments. As they say, once he is gone from the scene, there wouldn't be too many such things in the pipe to hope for!

By the way, the list of Shane warne's top 50 positions are largely his observation. We must accept his rational. It is very hard to put a number to a player, because the measure is not quite always black and white. I for instance would consider Steve Waugh in top ten, when Warne consider him at 26th position behind Lehman. Steve Waugh was not merely a match saver to me. He was much broader in scope than Shane Warne's remarks. He might not have been as gifted and flamboyant as his brother younger by a minute, but he often fixed a high valued stamp for his wicket. That made it extra hard to get his wicket. One another aspect of Steve Waugh, I liked is his urge to push for a win, irrespective of the risk involved, at least at a majority of times.

The top 50 from Shane Warne's list of cricketers, from his playing era are [1]

50 Jamie Siddons
49 Darren Berry
48 Brian McMillan
47 Chris Cairns
46 Dilip Vengsarkar
45 Waqar Younis
44 Alec Stewart
43 Michael Atherton
42 Ravi Shastri
41 Justin Langer
40 Kapil Dev
39 Stuart MacGill
38 Sanath Jayasuriya
37 Stephen Harmison
36 Andy Flower
35 Michael Vaughan
34 Bruce Reid
33 Allan Donald
32 Robin Smith
31 Tim May
30 Kevin Pietersen
29 Shoaib Akhtar / Craig McDermott
28 Saeed Anwar / Mohammad Yousuf
27 Jacques Kallis / Shaun Pollock
26 Steve Waugh
25 Darren Lehmann
24 Brett Lee
23 Stephen Fleming
22 Martin Crowe
21 David Boon
20 Adam Gilchrist
19 Aravinda de Silva
18 Merv Hughes
17 Matthew Hayden
16 Andrew Flintoff
15 Graham Gooch
14 Rahul Dravid
13 Anil Kumble
12 Mark Waugh
11 Courtney Walsh
10 Ian Healy
9 Mark Taylor
8 Ricky Ponting
7 Muttiah Muralitharan
6 Wasim Akram
5 Glenn McGrath
4 Allan Border
3 Curtly Ambrose
2 Brian Lara
1 Sachin Tendulkar


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not knowing French is not helping...

In the coming days, it may be more difficult for me because of the lack of French language skills. Lausanne and Geneva are on the French speaking cantons of Switzerland and that is where most of my day to day life would revolve in the coming months. The little German learned during the Synopsys Aachen days in Germany wouldn't be of much help, because Zürich is quite far away from Lausanne. I do not see too much of trouble within EPFL, but outside, it is going to be fun game, communicating. I wish, I did learn some French from the Conexant gang in New Jersey. Host of folks were all there to help me out, but I was perhaps ignorant and partly they were trying to improve their English. The urge for me to learn a new language was far too little compared to their keenness to expertise in English. What a wasted opportunity then! There was a formal way to join the Alliance program in Bangalore, but that too was given a cold shoulder. Now, all left to the learn all by practical method there in Lausanne then. For a moment, I had the initial French learning program at EPFL in mind, but the work commitment and other logistics wouldn't have helped to do that. I shouldnt say that I am worried too much, but the mere fact that, the communication mode would have been set, if only I knew little French before I reached there!

Now, I am relying mainly on Google translate to arrange an accommodation there in Lausanne. Google translate is pretty handy so far, to figure out the difference between studio and apartment. It is a lot fun. I try to derive the meaning of some individual French words, in the process. These are definitely the first few lessons. My friends Vivek and Zarina apparently learned French there in Montpelier, France. They claim to speak decent French. If they could, there is no reason, I cant. May be not all hopes are lost. Let us wait and watch. In few months down the lane, I should be able to blog on in French.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

21 years in wait mode and then a test series win in England

Some sort of history making on yesterday at the Oval cricket ground in London[1]. India, after a gap of 21 long years registered a test series win in England against England of course! The time 21 itself is a far stretched number, by all means because, only 4 times (1990, 1996, 2002 and 2007) these two teams played together in England during this period. On equivalent terms, it is a win after 3 previous attempts went against the wish list.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Linear Algebra behind Google

One of the practical applications of linear algebra is the success of Google. If a math teacher gives out this response to students, that would certainly produce many Ahh Huuu..., but truth indeed is there in the statement. When it comes to Google and its rocketing success story, some may wonder whether mathematics has so much of practical applications in it! Kurt Bryan and Tanya Leise aptly mentioned [1] that this eigenvector is worth more than $5,000,000,000! Aha, isn't this the richest eigenvector that you ever come across?

One of the core technique behind Google's multi billion dollar success story is the page rank algorithm, developed by its co founders Larry page and Sergey Brin, while they were in Stanford[3]. Let us put the statement mathematically or rather linear algebraic: It is essentially ranking web pages according to an eigenvector of a weighted link matrix. So, Google search has its thrust based on solving this eigenvector computing! Computing eignevalues and eigenvector, are sole linear algebra problems. The deal is quite big though. Let us talk a little bit deep about this problem.

Google's website [2] has only modest thing to say about this fantastic algorithm:

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; for example, it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important." Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on pages' relative importance.

Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines dozens of aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query.

  • A basic listing of the pagerank is available here at Here is the summary extracted from there.
  • PageRank assigns a rank or score to every search result. The higher the page's score, the further up the search results list it will appear.
  • Scores are partially determined by the number of other Web pages that link to the target page. Each link is counted as a vote for the target. The logic behind this is that pages with high quality content will be linked to more often than mediocre pages.
  • Not all votes are equal. Votes from a high-ranking Web page count more than votes from low-ranking sites. You can't really boost one Web page's rank by making a bunch of empty Web sites linking back to the target page.
  • The more links a Web page sends out, the more diluted its voting power becomes. In other words, if a high-ranking page links to hundreds of other pages, each individual vote won't count as much as it would if the page only linked to a few sites.
  • Other factors that might affect scoring include the how long the site has been around, the strength of the domain name, how and where the keywords appear on the site and the age of the links going to and from the site. Google tends to place more value on sites that have been around for a while.
  • Some people claim that Google uses a group of human testers to evaluate search returns, manually sorting through results to hand pick the best links. Google denies this and says that while it does employ a network of people to test updated search formulas, it doesn't rely on human beings to sort and rank search results.

Kurt Bryan, Tanya Leise, The $25,000,000,000 eigenvector. The linear algebra behind Google. SIAM Review, 48 (3), 569-81. 2006

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ajay, Soni and Myself@Foodcourt Forum Mall, Bangalore

This is the photo taken in November 2006, when Ajay had come down to Bangalore. We had gone to the food court (Myself, maya, nivedita, ajay, soni and ajay's mom)

Ajay, Soni and myself facing the camera:-left to right!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mobile phone market penetration

Wow. This mobile phone market is fairy tale market indeed. Who would have imagined, this 20 years ago? Still no India and China, the two most populated countries in the world, coming anywhere in the percentage penetration. I reckon, this is going to be the dollar spot for the wireless world.

The Economist, latest edition [1] brings out this fascinating statistics on the mobile penetration, listed country wise.

Tiny Luxemberg has a whopping 1.6 mobile phones per person on the average (That is 160 mobile phones per 100 people). Most of the mainland European countries are around the century mark when it comes to GSM phones. I was a little surprised to see Japan trailing behind a little bit (only a little from the leaders) on it. When I started working on the 3GPP modem design in 1999, the market trend and demands were heavily pouring from Japan. Looking at the way things moved, the Japaneese were expected to have two 3G phones per person:-) Well, I was kidding. Japan and Korea as well have average of 80 phones per 100 people of the population. This figure is more than stunning.

I have my brains doing busy calculations to stretch this figure for India and China in five years time. Buoy! Isnt there an ocean of market available for grab? You count a pair of billions and assume only 50% penetration. No wonder, the 3G spectrum will sell at a premium much higher than the cricket telecast rights in India.

If you go by a pure urban scan, the mobile phones are almost anybodies right. I reckon more than 80% of the households would have it. This should translate to something like 30-40% per person phone ratio. This is strictly the city statistics alone. The villagers, which accounts more than 75% of India's population are yet to taste this business flu. In 10 years time, the scene could change in proportion and the scales will stretch few digits in logarithmic units itself.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Salaam Dr. Kalaam

Every good thing has to come to an end, unfortunately. India's ever most popular president, at least to ordinary citizens, has left office after serving five strong years. For children he was simply so dear a president to have. He was quite an exemplary president, who changed the perception of a president and rashtrapathi bhavan itself. While it was elusive for ordinary people of this country, until his term, he let it open to the very very base class of this society. School children could take pride in staying in the rashtrapathi bhavan, whereas in the past, it welcomed only the foreign dignitaries and the likes.

Thank you President Kalam. You are simply our pride. You made us proud in many ways, many times.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I am a Mathematician:-)

The title might mislead you. So, let me clarify upfront. I am not on a mission to self appraise. I am to talk about the autobiography of 'Noerbert Wiener', titled 'I am a Mathematician'. This is a piece of book I am reading currently. Since I have heard a lot of stories about Wiener and having known some (percentage is minuscule!) of his work, the presentation of the book didn't provide disappointment. Rather, it is a very very interesting sketch of his life, put in his own style.

I mentioned about stories being heard about him. There are many of them. I am not saying this candidly, because I hardly checked the authenticity of such tales. Nevertheless, I get ready to laugh everytime, I begin to hear anything about him. The mathematical work of this once child prodigy is very well known and is treasured. His wit and absentmindedness are quite unique. Some of the anecdotes, I have heard about him are;

1.During one of these trips down the hallway at MIT, Wiener was interrupted by several of his students who talked to him for several minutes about what they were working on. After the conversation had ended, Wiener asked one of them "Could you please tell me, in which direction was I traveling when you stopped me?" One of them replied, somewhat confusedly, "You were coming from over there [gesturing] this way [gesturing]." Wiener replied, "Ah, then it is likely that I have already had lunch. Thank you." and continued down the hallway to his office.(A somewhat similar story is attributed to Einstein as well. As far as I heard, this is when Claude Shannon was giving a lecture at Princeton. It was well attended. Einstein made a back door visit when Shannon was in full stream. Shannon obviously noted Einsteins coming in, chatting with someone in the last row and the leaving soon. The curious Shannon (after the lecture) went to the folks to whom Einstein seemed talking. To Shannon's surprise, Einstein was apparently asking them 'where the tea was served'.)

2: After several years teaching at MIT, the Wieners moved to a larger house. Knowing her husband was likely to forget where he now lived, Mrs. Wiener wrote down the address of the new house on a piece of paper and made him put it in his shirt pocket. At lunchtime, an inspiring idea came to the professor, who proceeded to pull out the paper and scribble down calculations, and to subsequently proceed to find a flaw and throw the paper away in disgust. At the end of the day, it occurred to Wiener that he had thrown away his address. He now had no idea where his home was. Putting his mind to work, he concocted a plan: go to his old home and wait to be rescued. Surely Margaret would realize he was lost and come to pick him up. When he arrived at the house, there was a little girl standing out front. "Excuse me, little girl," he asked, "would you happen to know where the people who used to live here moved to?" "It's okay, Daddy," the girl replied, "Mommy sent me to get you." (Decades later, Norbert Wiener's daughter was tracked down by a mathematics newsletter. She said the story was essentially correct, except that Wiener had not forgotten who she was.)

Description on the image: Norbert Wiener with Amar Bose (Bose audio fame) and Lee (the early MIT pioneers): Source of this image is [1] [1]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kerala stands apart from the rest

This weeks Outlook magazine had a special coverage on the southern states of India, on how they fare well in comparison to other states (mainly North Indians states) of India. The results hardly surprise anyone, because the north south differences in terms of human development (not in terms of the urban prosperity and stock market index) is quite wide. But among southern states itself, the little Kerala stands way apart in almost all of the development index. This can be confusing to many, because the perception many have about Kerala is one that of an industry freed and unemployment sprouting region. It is no denying fact that, Kerala's main problem over the years have been unemployment, mainly because of the lack of private industries. But, I am interested to see how an ordinary human being living in a remote village fares. Is he able to live a decent life, freed of violence and exploitation? Is he in a position to support his/her children's education? Does he find comfort in himself or herself within the social circle? Can he afford a house? Do they access to other basic needs of life? Is he getting basic medical/health support from Government? As far as I am concerned, these should judge the well being of a state, because that is the best index of its people.

Not surprisingly, Kerala is miles apart from the other states, in all of these. It would not offer any surprise to anyone who lived in Kerala. I must confess that, the left policies over the years helped in drafting a grass root level development program emphasizing on such welfare based indexes. Eduction reforms, health reforms, land reforms and even the literacy drive all are massive programs initiated by the left governments in Kerala.
See the statistics from [1]
Also A Head For Numbers
The South is streets ahead. They earn more, they live well and they feel better too.

conomic Indicators

Karnataka, 7.2%, tops growth A.P T.N Kerala Karnataka INDIA U.P# Gujarat

Per capita net state domestic product (SDP) in Rs (2004-05) 23,153 25,965 27,048 23,945 23,222 11,477 28,355
Percentage share in total FDI approved (1991-03) 4.61 8.53 0.53 8.25 NA 1.69 6.47
Average annual growth of state domestic product in per cent (1993-94 to 2003-04)** 5.5 4.7 5.0 7.2 5.6* 3.2 5.7
Per capita SDP in per cent (1993-94 to 2003-04)** 4.4 3.7 4.1 5.7 3.8* 0.9 3.6
Percentage of population below poverty line (1999-00) 15.77 21.12 12.72 20.04 26.10 31.15 14.07
Range of min wages for unskilled workers in Rs (2005) 45-119 54-150 72-189 63-103 61-115 57-110 50-99
Job-seekers registered with employment exchanges in thousands (2003)


5006.4 3635.1 1784.3 41388.7 1927.8 998.1
Percentage employment share (public/private, 2001-02) 71.3/28.7 64.1/35.9 52.8/47.2 58.7/41.3 69.0/31.0 79/21 53.6/46.4
Percentage of urban population (2001) 27.30 44.04 25.96 33.99 27.81 20.78 37.36

*at constant (1990-00) prices between 1999-00 and 2003-04 **at constant (1993-94) prices #Includes Uttarakhand in data from 2000-01 and earlier

How Women-Friendly?

In TN, 69.2% have a say in family matters A.P T.N Kerala Karnataka INDIA U.P Gujarat

No. of females per 1,000 males (’01 census) 978 987 1058 965 933 898 920
Juvenile (0-6) sex ratio (2001) 964 939 963 949 927 916 878
Mean age for marriage (2004) 19.0 21.5 22.9 20.0 20.4 20.4 20.5
Female literacy rate (2001) 50.4 64.4 87.7 56.9 53.7 42.2 57.8
Currently married women who usually participate in household decisions in per cent 55.7 69.2 62.5 47.4 52.5 48.2 56.7
Women who have experienced spousal violence in per cent 35.2 41.9 16.4 20.0 37.2 42.4 27.6
Percentage of women with more than 10 years of education 22 32 49 28 22 18 24
Percentage of women’s employment to total employment (2003) 20.5 30.2 39.3 31.2 18.1* 9.8 12.7

* 2002


Less than 1% live in slums in Kerala


T.N Kerala Karnataka INDIA U.P Gujarat

Percentage with regular exposure to media (TV, radio, newspaper at least once a week) 87 94 97 90 80 76 84
Percentage of slum population to total urban population (2001) 24.9 10.4 0.8 7.8 15 12.70 9.90
Teledensity per 100 persons (May 2007) 20.7 24.2* 35.1 26.2 19.3 11.38 25.5
Total road length (km) per 100 sq km (2002) 71.3 127.7 386.8 79.5 74.7 103.1 70.2
Voting percentage (2004 elections) 69.95 60.8 71.45 65.1 58.1 48.16 45.2

* excluding Chennai


In TN, 81% get vaccination A.P T.N Kerala Karnataka INDIA U.P Gujarat

Life expectancy at birth (1999-2003, M/F) 62.2/64.8 64.3/66.5 70.9/76 62.9/66.4 61.8/63.5 59.6/58.7 62.5/64.6
Number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the last five years 53 31 15 43 57 73 50
Institutional deliveries in the last three years in per cent 69 90 100 67 41 22 55
Mothers who had at least three antenatal care visits for their last birth in per cent 86.0 96.5 93.9 79.3 50.7 26.3 64.9
Vaccination coverage in per cent 46 81 75 55 44 23 45
Children age 6-35 months who are anaemic in per cent 79 72.5 55.7 82.7


85.1 80.1
Population served per government hospital bed 2,351 849 1,172 1,321 2,257 5,646 1,544
Children under 3 who are underweight in per cent 37 33 29 41 46 47 47
Per capita expenditure on health in Rs (2001-02) 1,039 846 1,858 712 997 1,124 816

Unless specified, data in tables are the latest available, for 2005-06


In Kerala, 84.1% live in pucca houses A.P T.N Kerala Karnataka INDIA U.P Gujarat

Percentage of households that:

Have a television 50.3 53.1 67.7 53.6 44.2 34 53.8
Have a motorised vehicle 14.6 22.6 24.7 20.4 18.6 16.6 30.2
Live in a pucca house 40.4 69.6 84.1 49.8 41.4 27.3 56.4
Have access to a toilet facility 42.4 42.9 96 46.5 44.5 33.1 54.6
Use piped drinking water 67.8 84.2 24.6 57.4 42.0 10.3 72.7
Have electricity 88.4 88.6 91 89.3 67.9 42.8 89.3


100% transition to upper primary in TN A.P T.N Kerala Karnataka U.P Gujarat

Literacy rate (2001 census) 60.5 73.5 90.9 66.6 56.3 69.1
Percentage of schools with one teacher 05.7 7.8 0.1 8.8 16.3 5.7
No. of students for each teacher 24.0 39 26 32 66 36
Transition rate from primary to upper primary in per cent 89.6 100.7* 86.6 89.7 57.62 82.7
Average classrooms in each school 03.9 5.6 10.5 4.5 3.4 4.8
Average number of instructional days 212 217 181 225 194 210
Percentage who go on to Grade V 99.2 104.2* 108.5* 98.2 56.6 78.9
Net primary enrolment ratio 75.6 94.1 64.1 95.6 90 75.9
Dropouts (Grade I-V) in per cent 00.4 -6.8* 5.8 2.2 11.9 2.2

* Indicates higher intake of students than dropouts

Sources: Various central and state govt publications, including National Health Profile 2006, National Family Health Survey 2005-06 and State Report Cards 2005 of National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration