This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read. And I could relate even better because I work in the area of AI like the authors and many of the examples and the final case-study is from this area. Also it’s inspiring to see such deep insight coming from the tool they built called Picbreeder.
The core idea presented in the book is that “objectives” are unnecessary and rather a hinderance while solving “complex” problems. Objectives might be useful for simple problems where it is easy to chart out a path to the goal. However in case of more complex problems where the route to the goal is not known, objectives cause more harm than good.
Next, an alternate model is presented called the novelty search. It finds solutions based on how “interesting” the solution is rather than how close it is to an “objective”. The authors connect this idea to the stepping stones, which is a great analogy. They argue that a complex goal lies somewhere in a hazy lake with a very low visibility. It is difficult or impossible to reach a specific goal in this lake and an objective in this case is like a “broken compass”. However, it is much more relevant to explore the lake by finding new stepping stones based on novelty or interestingness and how many new stepping stones it can lead to. True success lies in exploring the space of the lake rather than trying to reach a specific imaginary point.
Finally, a variety of use-cases are discussed from education, innovation to evolution and AI where a novelty based approach makes more sense rather than an objective based approach.
This book presents an intriguing idea which can literally change the way we operate in life. Sometimes it gets a bit repetitive but overall it drives the point. I highly recommend this book!
The Bhagavad Gita is like a guide book for successfully navigating through human life and achieving the highest goal of moksha. Its original verses are in Sanskrit which might be difficult to grasp for most of us and thus there are lot of its translations available from simple to complex, concise to detailed etc.
This translation by Eknath Easwaran is another classic (previously I have read his translation of The Upanishads and it is equally amazing!). He follows the following style throughout the book: he gives an overview of the chapter highlighting some of the key shlokas, describing deeper insights, connecting to other texts and summarising the chapter as a whole. In the next part, all the shlokas are translated in simple English which is easy to understand.
I think this is a nice book to get started on understanding and inculcating the lessons of The Bhagavad Gita. The shlokas are not explained in great detail but on the whole it gives a big picture by delivering the core message of each chapter. After reading this version and understanding the overall message, one can read more detailed translations of the The Bhagavad Gita, if interested. Also, it’s important to apply some of the learnings shared in The Bhagavad Gita in our own lives, and this book is definitely helps in imparting those key messages and action points.
A amazing, succinct book which takes a look at the system of education in India during the ancient times, during Mughal rule, during British rule and since independence.
* Ancient times
In great detail the book describes the rich Indic education system. It describes the times when education was highly valued, people travelled long distances (sometimes across continents) to learn, where there was a complete ecosystem which supported education and people pursuing it, where both men and women had equal opportunities to learn and where the scholars were experts in their areas of excellence and were far ahead of their times!
* During Mughal rule
This educational ecosystem was intentionally destroyed by the Mughal rulers who invaded India. They destroyed these institutions, burnt libraries and killed the scholars all across India. They were responsible to flung back India centuries behind in its knowledge and scientific pursuits.
* During British rule
The British rule further ruined even the remnants of Indic education system. Their strategy was to create a population which is unaware / hates its own heritage. And to impart an ‘English’ education to them in order to create a population which can be ordered to work but which cannot think for itself.
* After Independence
Sadly, the details of the murder of education system and the rich ancient culture in general by the previous rulers has not been presented correctly to the citizens even after independence. Sometimes the very people who caused this massive destruction have be glorified in the books. It’s high time that we the people, are aware of the rich educational / cultural systems of ancient times and how they were destroyed by the rulers in the past.
Educational systems are the foundation of any society. Educational institutes from schools to universities impart not just knowledge of different areas but also builds minds which can solve unknown challenges of the upcoming times! Thus if the educational system is broken, then the population itself is not capable enough to face the future, which in turn leads to an unstable, sub-par society.
Also, I don’t think we need to go back and copy the exact models of ancient educational systems. Some of the key aspects of the ancient education system can be adapted to the current times to build better educational systems today. The key take-away from this book is that we should be aware of our rich educational heritage as well as how it was brutally destroyed by Mughal / British rulers. Sometimes just accepting the past in itself is a big step towards progress. Finally, we need to rethink and redesign the current day educational systems so that it is good enough to create a society that can tackle the problems of tomorrow!
A memoir which shows the power of resilience, hardwork and hope!
The book has been brilliantly written. The life of the author is very different from most of our lives, so much so that sometimes it almost seems like fiction. And then we realize that it’s true and the author has actually lived through these experiences.
In the first part the usual lifestyle of the author and her family with a variety of incidents is laid out to give an idea to the readers of a survivalist lifestyle. In the second part she describes the challenges of starting formal education as a 17 year old and the violence which she faced at home. The third part shows the importance of home and family sometimes even when they might not be supportive and acknowledge the reality.
It shows how valuable a family which accepts and supports you is. Despite all the challenges (sometimes each day seemed like a challenge) the author not just conquers the adversity, but rather she aces it. She and a couple of her brothers did their Ph.D. from some of the best graduate schools in the world. She acknowledges her life and its challenges in the formative years and decides to look ahead and move forward when her family breaks ties with her.
It also shows the importance of education and learning. It is nice to see how the author’s world view about a lot of things which she believed, transforms when she studies and learns in depth about it. As the author at one point mentions, “An education is not so much about making a living as making a person.” This book also shows that it is never too late to be the person you want to be even if one has faced the worst circumstances in life. A spirit of hope, trust in oneself and ability to work hard can make a difference at any point in life!
Each node of n-ary tree can have n or fewer child nodes. In case of our life, every decision point is a node and all possible options or choices which can be made at that decision point are its child nodes. For example: a career choice is a node, which may have various child nodes or options like engineering, medicine, journalism, law etc. Similarly, it can also have minor day to day decision nodes like restaurants to have dinner at and in this case various possible restaurants will be it’s child nodes. Thus this design can handle all types of decisions and its choices as it’s children.
Also if a same decision is to be made at multiple times in one’s life, then in each case it will be a new instance with same or different choices as children. For example one may wish to make a career change multiple times in life and each time there will be a new decision point with new children.
Thus there are no back-links or backtracking possible in our n-ary tree of life. “Life is a one way and forward is the way to go!” After a choice has been made about a decision, it’s a line in stone, which can never be changed. We can always learn from the choices made in past but we can never undo or delete our choices. NEVER. One has to live with the decisions made in the past. It’s good to learn lessons and make better decisions in future.
Next, lets have a look at the traversal strategy of the n-ary tree of life. Only Depth First Search (DFS) is available. It means that we need to make a decision from all the choices. Breadth First Search (BFS) in which case all the options are explored to the paths they lead and then making an informed decision is not available. For example: It would have been great if we could try multiple career choices for a while and then make a final decision. But it is not so. Every decision is final in the n-ary tree of life and it also has its consequences on the choices available and the decisions which can be made in future. In this case “wisdom” is to make the best possible decision from all available choices based on our limited knowledge of choices and it’s repercussions.
Every choice has a pay-off or value associated with it. It is not known to us but again we can make a guess about it based on our “wisdom”. The basic strategy is to choose the path of life which has the maximum pay-off. However given that life offers only Depth First Search and that too without backtracking, it’s really difficult although not impossible to find it. Some of the paths may be close to best, some worst and some mediocre.
Also as in case of n-ary trees, greedy strategy may not be the best possible strategy. Firstly it’s not possible to find the best choice out of all available choices. And secondly even if the best choice is made, the current best choice may not necessarily be on the best or good paths of life. Similarly, sometimes even a low-paying current choice may actually lie of the better paths of life. Thus we should not to get disheartened by the current low pay-off choice as it may possibly lie on on of the better paths. Always have hope of making better choices in future which lead to better paths.
So actually, our life is not about the road not taken, it’s about the decisions made at every decision point in our life. We are the controllers of our n-ary trees of life. It’s always in our hands to make a decision out of all available choices. Let’s be brave to accept and face the decisions we have taken in past. More importantly, let’s gain the wisdom, to take the right decisions in our lives which maximizes the overall pay-off and leads to the best possible path in life.
Here is a link to the gif of a tree fractal. It’s a great visualization of somewhat similar point of view as this post.
Killa (a fort) is the story of a 11 year old boy, Chinmay. Its a story about learning things by oneself. Its a story about facing challenges. Its a story about losing one’s father. Its a story about the beautiful mom-son bond. Its a story about relocating. Its a story about making friends. Its a story about growing up. Its a story about learning to live life!
This movie has been shot in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, India. The cinematography is awesome! The endless rains. The fort. Moss growing in the crevasses of the fort walls. Lush green surroundings.
The roaring sea. A lighthouse! Pools filled to the brim with cool blue water. Fishes and crabs. Coconut trees. It has been captured in such a beautiful way, that i am sure you will feel like visiting this place.
Chinmay is a young, introvert boy who has recently lost his father and has to relocate to a village due to transfer of his mother’s government job. The movie depicts how he adapts to changes in his life both outside and within. The mother and son relationship is brilliantly played by both the actors. Many a times they need not say a word, their expressions are sufficient to know how they are feeling and what they want to convey to the audience.. Although they can’t exactly share their problems with each other, but they understand and support one another.
Another thing which i liked about the movie is that not each and every detail is presented to the user. The blocks are arranged just so that a person can understand the flow of the movie and connect the dots.
It brings back the growing up days of childhood. The nostalgia.. Times spent with friends. Cycle races. Exams in schools. Crushes. Fights and patching up among friends. The happiness of new school bag and books. Endless games with friends. Getting drenched in rain. And lot more!
Its a great movie. The performance of all members of the cast is brilliant. The cinamatography is amazing. The plot is nice and touching. Great music. Also, its available with English subtitles, so people not knowing Marathi can enjoy as well.
I just loved the poem which beautifully describes the plot of the movie. Although its best read in Marathi, however even the English translation is good.
The Sea bore an array of perils
A mighty storm ambushed the lone sailor
The sail snapped, the nails unhooked
The sailor persisted, unfazed by what lay ahead
Luckless, the knots of skill turned loose
He stood there alone, the storm slapped its noose
A life lived in benevolence will not let faith wither
He overcame fear and the storm lulled into slither
Courage of the universe, regathers in a single moment
A hundred arm’s strength regains, as the memory of mother returns
Today marks the completion of one full year in the “real” world for me. I mean since the time i can remember, i was busy with academics… pre-school, school, graduation, post graduation… I was used to my academic life. And its obvious, if we do something for so long then it becomes a habit, a routine, a way of life.
But exactly one year ago, it all came to an end (for now 😉 ). On this day, one year ago, masters convocation was celebrated, graduate degrees were awarded, caps were thrown high in the sky and then suddenly it was time to change… It was not a gradual change. It was a drastic change. Today we were students and tomorrow professionals. It was almost like throwing a fish which had always stayed in the small protective bowl into the huge ocean. It was known long before, that this would happen, but then, knowing and finally experiencing is a lot different!
This change brought a lot of changes in life… From casual/informal clothes to formals, from night-outs to waking up early, from group studies to group meeting, from classroom to boardroom, from meeting friends daily to meeting them after a lot of planning, from daily chit-chat with friends to infrequent messages on Watsapp, from random project groups to random people in office teams, from grades and spi to ratings, from stipend to salary, from profs and deans to bosses and managers, from parties with friends to team lunches and outings, from walks in college to chai breaks in office, from project meetings to office calls, from daily attendance to filling time-sheet, from real classes to classes and trainings online, from reading 1-2 papers in a semester to reading 1 paper every week. Things have changed, yet they have remained same…
Life has changed. It was bound to happen. This one year has been like a roller coaster for me! Full of up and downs. More appropriately, downs and ups (in the correct sequence). Faced worse times.. Understood the importance of the area and type of work which i wanted to do, the hard way. Worked hard to bring the change… I am happy, atleast later on, things changed for good for me. In this one year, i have met so many people.. Colleagues and friends. Learnt to handle difficult people and then met some of the the most humble and down to earth people. Learnt many new cool things! Discovered myself in ways, i myself didn’t know. Understood things i like, things i value. Discovered and worked in areas which i find interesting. Met people, whom i can look up to. “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” ~P.B. Shelly I am happy that for me, spring came when i could wait no more 🙂
I am nostalgic about the previous part of my life. But i am also happy to have experienced the change. It has made me a lot more mature. It has shown me that one needs to put in lots of efforts to fulfil one’s dreams. Also funnily and strangely, its more satisfying to learn life lessons the hard way. I also learnt, that it helps if one knows what one wants. And with what intensity. What things are we ready to give up, in order to get the things we want? Probably, then its easy to take decisions in life. This year has taught me how to prioritize the things that matter the most to me.
Change can be both good and bad,
A person may be both happy and sad.
Its best to learn something new everyday,
Striving ahead, no matter what others say.
Life is not a race, to win or compete,
But to follow one’s dreams, however offbeat.
Creating new music and silencing the din.
Balancing between angels & demons within.
Hoping for happier times ahead, with new lessons and new challenges! 🙂
Two years have passed! Yes, two awesome years 🙂 It seems like yesterday when i had applied for masters at IIIT-B. It seemed to be perfect to me in every way. The news of being shortlisted for interviews… The preparation for interview… And then my first visit to Bangalore, which became my favourite since day one and then IIIT-B! The campus just wooed my heart. It is a small cozy place. I distinctly remember sitting for my turn for the admission interviews and looking outside of the windows to the huge trees which lined the entrance, that’s when i had thought that i just want to be in this place. Interviews were good and i had a nice quick trip. And then the acceptance letter sent me on cloud nine 🙂 I was sooo happy!
Joined IIIT-B on July 13th, 2012. Met people from all over India. Its always a bit difficult for me to make friends, however somehow we just all got together! I had the coolest gang of gals here 🙂 Initially everything felt a bit new, somewhat different. But since i have already stayed in hostel during my undergrad days, i could gel in soon. New place, new friends, new weather, new food, new languages and thus overall a new life 🙂
Initially for around one and half months we had prep semester, where we studied the basics and got ourselves adjusted to the new life. I still remember the Linux installations and system crashes 😛 The seniors were all very helping and ready to guide their “juniors”. Our 2nd floor hostel corridors used to be packed sometimes when we all were listening to seniors’ advice. It was just the beginning of the life ahead. During this time, learnt and practiced basic programming and mathematics.
Very soon it was time to begin the first semester. The SAC elections, the campaigning both online and off-line. The freshers party! And then the serious stuff started. Four subjects, random project team allocations, whole night project meetings, coding, numerous demos and vivas by TAs, quizzes, mid-sem and finals. Sometimes it all seemed too difficult. But then we had seniors as our inspiration. They had been through this and so we felt that we could do it as well!
But it was not all that hard! There was always preparation going on for some festival. Had a great time celebrating so many Indian festival with friends from all over India. Enjoyed the matki-fod Janamashtami, awesome Diwali with firecrackers, beautiful flower rangolis on Onam, one day Ganesh puja, Republic day and Independence day and many more. These special events added spice in daily life and made it more colorful. And then there were Ravali calls every now and then on birthdays 😉
Second semester started and it was time to choose the specialization. Time to choose two electives. Time to be part of a lab. For some it was easy, while for others it was very difficult to choose. However very soon things fell into place. Everyone was busy again doing some awesome projects in courses and labs. Second semester is awesome for two reasons: SPANDAN – It is the time for all IIIT-B students and alumni to meet and enjoy playing and watching sports for three days. You ask any IIITBian and they will say that Spandan is perhaps the best time and it seems as though we are in a different world altogether! And the second special event of the second semester is Open House. This is the time when we present our work to the outside world. Had a great time giving demos and presentations and got some amazing feedback and suggestions. And then very soon, again its time for final project submissions, demos and exams.
Then we had a mini semester called the summer sem. During this time, we studied some management lessons and technical communication. Being tech guys, management lessons were somewhat difficult for us to grasp initially. Had a great time in TC presentations, movie and book reviews and most of all the Mad-ads 🙂 Our group’s product was an umbrella, and i must say it was a really cool multipurpose umbrella 😉
Third semester started and it was time to be ready for placements! Oh those days! It was difficult to handle both studies and placements. Those group studies. Those intense problem solving sessions. Karumanchi, the hottest book on campus during placements. It was so much in demand that it was out of stock on every online portal. Some amazing KSMs by our classmates. It was all very stressful but finally worth it! The placement week. The written rounds. The coding rounds. A few rejections… This is the time when “real friends” supported and motivated. And then sweet success 🙂
At IIIT-B, one does regular coursework+projects for three semesters and the last semester is for either internship or thesis. In these three semesters i studied some amazing subjects, taught by some of the most awesome profs i have ever met. They were always there to guide and support and to clarify doubts if any. I was a member of OSL lab (later renamed to Web Science Lab, WSL) and got to do some cool projects. Experienced some fantastic unconventional ways of teaching and learning. The projects taught us to get our hands dirty, work on some real problems and to work in teams and manage the group. Overall it was awesome experience.
In my final semester, i choose to do thesis as i was highly interested in an area and had an amazing Prof. as my guide. And i am very proud to say that it has been one of the best decision of my life. These six months have been perhaps the best days of my life till now. I have never been so happy 🙂 I did some cool experiments and simulations. Had numerous brain storming sessions and discussions to crystallize the ideas and generate appropriate results. Time just flew when i did my work. It was not work but play for me, as i enjoyed doing it. During this time, I realized that sometimes, its difficult to understand the implications of one’s own work! In such scenario, one needs a guide who has wisdom to see the bigger picture and who can connect the dots. I also understood that academic writing is very different from regular writing. It needs to be a lot more diligent and precise. This semester showed me my area of interest, my potential and what all i can do ahead! Also i have completed a full circle at IIIT-B. Gave my M.Tech thesis defense in the same classroom where i waited for my turn for admission interview!
Some random pointers of IIIT-B – the green lawns, the mini pond, ducks and rabbits, lots of squirrels, the orange tree (African tulip tree) in front of my window, awesome independent room, MCR, smart boards, colorful canteen, mid-night Maggie, sandwiches and fruit juice, walks around the campus, small terrace on the 2nd floor, the musical fountain, the basketball court, table-tennis games, Spic Macay programs, Philosophy Club meetings, Movie sessions, i guess i can go on and on 🙂 There are so many things that flash in my mind when i think of IIIT-B.
And now time ticks by. Earlier i used to wait for the convocation day but now i want time to slow down… Very soon it will be time to throw the graduation caps high in the sky. To be there, together, for the group pic. And then to wave good byes. I know it’s going to be difficult. Very difficult. IIIT-B has been like heaven for me. I have realized my potential here. I have understood what i am capable of doing. I am ready to face life ahead. It gave me some close friends for lifetime. It showed me, my area of interest for which my brain jumps with excitement and interest. I was lucky to study and work under the guidance of some of the most amazing profs here who are experts in their field. IIIT-B thanks for making me what i am today ! When i see myself now and myself two years earlier, i can clearly see a transformed myself. Adieu to MT2012 batch! Had a great time with all of you. It’s the memories which will be cherished forever! And finally, IIIT-B, my Alma mater, thanks for everything!
2013 has been a wonderful year for me. Now when i look back, i feel as if it just zoomed away. I learnt new lessons, met new people, increased my friends circle. Some of major highlights of the year 2013 which i can recall are as follows –
It has been a year of learning. 2013 was the last year when i studied formal courses of M.Tech at IIIT-B. Learnt many new and interesting concepts. Some of them actually left me amazed ! Worked with many Profs. Did some interesting projects. Gave the last exam !
Took the decision of doing thesis instead of internship in the final semester of M.Tech. It has been one of the best decision i have made. I am enjoying every moment of the work i am doing. This is the most amazing work i have ever done ! Hope to get some new and interesting results. Looking forward to the next six months of research. I have realized that doing what we love, can give us maximum happiness, maximum satisfaction.
A year of firsts – I did many things for the first time in 2013. Tried new things, had new experiences. The ones that i can recall now are as follows – Watched the first 3D movie (Frozen, it was amazing !), attended the first conference, published the first paper, presented first poster (at Open House), first time went on a tour without parents, first birthday away from home (but also one of the best), first time traveled in a metro, got my first job …
I gave the best gift to my parents on their 25th marriage anniversary, a “Gold Medal” for being first in B.E. in the Computer Engineering department of Gujarat Technological University (GTU). The best thing was that my convocation was on their anniversary day (19th Jan). Mom and Dad, I am proud to be your daughter. It is because of you both, i am, what i am today 🙂 I know thanks is too small a word but still, thanks a lot for everything !!!
Increased my friends circle. Our gang of girls increased from 5 to 7. It has been a great support system. A family away from home. These are people whom you can call even at 2 AM to talk. I will miss our long mid-night walks and then sandwiches + fruit juice in canteen, our shopping trips, our study sessions together, our meals in canteen. Thanks a lot guys for being there ! Lets all be friends forever 🙂 This year brought us all closer and bonded us even better. I also realized that it can be very difficult to wave goodbye to your close friends.
This was the year when most of the festivals were celebrated away from home. Be it lighting up the hostel on Diwali, or the colorful fun with colors on Holi or the beautiful flower rangoli on Onam or the most awaited three-day long Spandan-The Sports Fest at IIIT-B or the ethnic day celebrations. Celebrating festivals can be fun with friends.
I have always believed that its better to be alone than to be with people who don’t match your values and ethics. I have been an introvert in some ways, and never initiated conversations with strangers for example while travelling or at other public places. Thus i have a small close-knit friend circle of a few close friends. I have always enjoyed my own company and hence i can say with full confidence that being alone can be also be fun ! However, this year i have also realized that making friends can be easy if the wavelength of the other person matches yours.
This has been a musical year for me. Thanks to the SpicMacay events at IIIT-B, other performances and lots and lots of YouTube musical videos, it has been an enchanting and euphonious year. I am planning to learn a new musical instrument next year. I will update about it later. Music is food for soul. It has the magical power to transcend us to a new different world. Music can refresh the brain even after a long and tiring day.
This year for the first time a visited a home for physically and mentally challenged girl child, Swanthana. All i can say is that, i was completely moved. Our problems, our setbacks, our challenges, our sorrows are nothing, yes believe me NOTHING once you see their life. But still they SMILE (and it can bring tears in anyone’s eyes). To read my full experience, click here.
I am looking forward to 2014. I hope it is a great year full of new ideas, new experiences, new lessons, new friends and new learning. Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous new year 2014 ! May all your dreams come true. May you get all that you deserve and more !
I was watching this video, in which children sing what happiness means to them. Thus i got the idea of this blog post. Here i would like to share what happiness means to me. Most of these i have experienced, while some i am yet to experience. I will keep adding more …
Happiness is clicking perfect pictures, Swinging on swing, Watching a floating leaf.
Happiness is lush greenery, Blooming flowers, Gazing starry sky.
Happiness is watching a sunrise, Bird soaring high, Pleasant cool breeze.
Happiness is soothing music, Chirping birds, Peaceful silence.
Happiness is midnight sandwich party, Lots of chocolates, Home Mom made food.
Happiness is old photos, Surprise visit home, Meeting old friends.
Happiness is shopping spree, Long drives, Reading new books.
Happiness is publishing new blog post, Blast of new post ideas (at 3 AM ) Getting Freshly Pressed.
Happiness is motivating teachers, Parents like friends, Few close friends.
Happiness is knowing something new, Learning to do it too, Gaining expertise.
Happiness is being engrossed in yourself, Spending quality time alone, Introspecting.
Happiness in being yourself, Listening to others, Doing what you thing is right.
Happiness is taking a stand, Lending a helping hand, Spreading fun and joy.
Happiness is listening to people, Getting new ideas, Making new friends.
Happiness is sheer pure bliss, Feeling of immense joy, Bringing big smiles on faces 🙂
Happiness is joy of small things, Journey of life, Wisdom from experiences.