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Trysts with Technology

TECS Week ’09

A week ago, I was privileged to attend TECS Week (TCS Excellence in Computer Science Week) ’09. It was was held at TCS Innovation Labs – TRDDC, Pune, India from 5th-9th Jan ’09.

TECS Week '09 Participants at TRDDC, Pune
TECS Week ’09 Participants at TRDDC, Pune

About TECS Week:

The aim of TECSWeek is to provide high quality education in Computer Science to the most gifted young computer scientists in developing countries. TECS Week is a lecture series that is being organised at TRDDC every year since the past six years. The program is jointly conducted by the International Institute for Software Technology(IIST), United Nations University and Indian Association for Research in Computing Science (IARCS).

About the speakers:

The invited speakers of TECS Week this year were Professor Lorenzo Alvisi from University of Texas at Austin, USA; Professor Peter Druschel from Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Germany; Professor S. Keshav from University of Waterloo, Canada; Dr. Ravi Kumar from Yahoo! Research, USA; and Professor Guru Parulkar from Stanford University, USA.

About the discussions:

Professor Lorenzo Alvisi lectured on designing Byzantine Fault Tolerant systems. These systems continue to function correctly even when a subset of its components deviate arbitrarily from their correct behavior.

Professor Peter Druschel brought out technical challenges such as self-organisation, robustness, and incentive-compatibility in designing decentralized systems. He discussed the state-of-the-art in technologies like overlay networks, distributed hash tables, among others. He also put forth the concept of accountability for automated and reliable fault detection.

Professor S. Keshav and Dr. Ravi Kumar discussed the applications of decentralised cooperative computing. Professor S. Keshav discussed Internet, the most successful applications since the last three decades. He gave valuable insights on designing and implementing Internet protocols.

Dr. Ravi Kumar discussed the latest revolution of Social Networking. He explained—using data analytics- how social networks grow and evolve over a period of time. He also gave insights into various aspects of social networks like the small world phenomenon, understanding the nature of influence and information propagation in a social network.

Professor Guru Parulkar addressed the issues related to how new inventions and uses were pushing the Internet into realms that the original design had not anticipated. He pointed out that future Internet should be re-designed in a way such that it would naturally support moving of computing and storage into Internet, support wireless communication, and mobility. He outlined the initial efforts in this direction made by a team at Stanford University.

I was amongst the youngest, by age and experience, over there and it was a great and thrilling experience to be amongst  such intellectual company. The enlightening lectures did set my spirits high and I readily turned into a sponge with my un-quenching thirst for knowledge.

The entire lecture series was awesome and gave great kickstarts to various thought processes in my mind. The speakers and other participants were all very interactive and all-open to discussions & feedback. This lead to some great conversations which I might never forget in my life.

The area of discussions go wide into the entire spectrum of technology viz from Honeybees to Internet server,Social Networking and their evolution, developing new Internet protocols for high scalability and even the idea of a Clean Slate Reinvention of the Internet.

And yeah, most of all, I loved Prof. Keshav’s stories. They reinstated the age-old Indian belief that the stories are the best way to impart education. The success and impact of Jaatak Kathayenand Pachtantra second this school of thought.

Coming back to work, it feels great with a clearer picture of how-things-work and now I am working undoubtedly with a more refined thought-process. 🙂

“Cogito Ergo Sum” – Socrates