Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just how tough is NLP?

I got this while auditing an introductory class on natural language processing.

A colleague recently told Roger Gould, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, about a lecture, place uncertain, referring to double negatives. Every language, the lecturer observed, has a construction in which two negatives make a positive. But in English, he said, there's no construction in which two positives make a negative.

From the hall came the perfect, anonymous response: "Yeah, right."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

About chennai

I have been in Chennai for only one week. So this post is basically my first impression of Chennai.

The first thing that comes to mind is temperature. I am very lucky to be living in IIT-M campus which is 2-3 degrees cooler from Chennai. Water seems to be another big problem. The water that we get in the campus is fine. But outside, even packaged water has a weird taste.

The Chennai sun reminds me the sun (Can't quite remember which ad) which drains a kid using a straw.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First class week at IIT-M

This post has been delayed for quite a long time for various reasons. I was actually going to post my first day experience. Since its been delayed for a week , I'm going to summarize my IIT-M life, first week (Everything I saved on first day in italics). Some interesting things I found out about IIT-M classes: -

The software engineering paper has a lab. Remember, this used to be one of the most boring theory-only paper during B-Tech. More info about experiments in the lab once it starts. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss the first one on monday.

The lab has started now, we have to form a "company" of 5 people and prepare a presentation about the company.

We had an introductory class on cryptography. My view on cryptography is that, no matter how strong your algorithm is, it's all going to be broken when user chooses the password (which is one part of every algorithm, I think). We know for a fact that it is simply too difficult to make people (myself included) to choose strong passwords. The company that I worked for had very strict rules for password.It required us to use letters, digits, and special chars. Also it had to be atleast 10 chars or something, and we had to change it every 2 weeks or so. After faithfully following the system for sometime, I just found it too difficult to remember my password. So I started using the approach most people followed, maintain a common prefix of letters and numbers, then cycle through all special chars each time you have to change your password. In other words, passwords are easily guessed and your cutting-edge cryptographic algorithm looks stupid(period).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Joined IIT-M

Yesterday was my first day at IIT-M. I've now completed all the usual admission formalities. I'm a bit surprised after that experience. I expected the thing to be simple and smooth. Instead, it was like every other college. I had to fill in my name and address in a million forms (, and I thought getting through GATE was tough).