Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Princeton - Weekly Bulletin 12/08/03 - Bhargava strikes balance among many interests

This is an old article - a couple of years old.This is one of those rare occasions where I have come across a really well-rounded personality. Manjul Bhargava is not just one of the youngest full professors of Mathematics around, (at all of 28 years old and that too at Princeton!) - but he seems to be a great teacher and a very good tabla player too. How many people around us have so many interests? And how many are really good in their multiple fields?

I came across his name in a mailing list to which I subscribe. What really caught my eye was that Manjul seems to know Samskrit - he apparently studied Samskrit at the Rajasthan Samskrit Vidyapeeth. He had studied Aryabhata when he was 22 (I guess he is 30 now).

I really felt proud on reading about a person who is so well balanced and adept at multiple fields. I felt even more pride on knowing that Manjul was of Indian descent and was quite proud of his culture and traditions. Contrast this with many other people of Indian origin in India and abroad who take every chance to put down the culture they were born in!

Look here for a good article on Manjul.

Look here for an audio interview with Manjul on NPR.

Look here for a more recent article.

May Manjul give a long lasting contribution to mankind and may he be allowed to work in an unhindered environment that will enable him to do so!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

For apparently no reason

I don't remember the last time I blogged. It must have been a couple of months ago. (I added this line after I saw my last blog - it was posted 2 weeks ago! 2 weeks without blogging seem like 2 months to me? I seem to have lost all sense of time!) All these days I somehow was not so inclined on blogging. Even now I am not. But I thought I could put up a quick post before I forgot why I had begun to blog at all.

A piece on foresees the death of blogging. I wasn't surprised. I was in the same boat. Over the last several weeks, I did not feel like writing because I felt I had nothing meaningful to say. I read a few blogs after a few events had happened and they had echoed my thoughts. The Delhi Diwali blasts happened. India thrashed Sri Lanka. But everybody knew that and I had very similar thoughts as hundreds of others. So, I thought, if my thoughts had already been echoed, where was the need to put my own thoughts on the web and label them mine when hundreds of people had published the same thoughts? This thought led me to not writing and laziness set in.

I was never a fanatical blogger and I don't think I will ever be one. But I don't think blogging will die. As long as the fundamental need of man to be heard and understood exists, blogging too will.

In one of my earlier posts, I had thought of using my blog as a brain-dump when a certain event happened so that when I had the time, I could go back and look at what I thought at that instant. For me, that is still useful, though my laziness has to be overcome for that.

I don't know if it is because of the keyboard layout and ease of typing or something else, but I find blogging in Kannada more effort consuming than doing the same in English. Planet Sampada is a place where this blog feed is consumed. It is a site of blogs of several Kannadigas around the world. Someone had commented that Planet Kannada was a place where several Kannadigas wrote in English. Thinking about the reason for it, I found that it is just a matter of convenience that I blog in English. In Kannada, the written word is much different than the spoken word and speaking it is far easier than writing it or typing it. In English, just because we are so used to it, we don't even need to look at the keyboard when typing and whatever you say is almost whatever you write, so thoughts flow better. But in Kannada, typing "nAnu sumne bande. hIge ellgO hOgbEkittu" seems unnatural. Talking in Kannada on the other hand feels more natural to me.

I don't have much else to say now. Till something prods me to write again....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

History's Worst Software Bugs and the Software engineer's code of ethics

Look at this informative and well written article here

I've always liked Wired for such articles and got to this one via Though I used to feel that programming could not be considered "real" engineering (early in my career), that distinction is blurred in applications such as the ones listed in the above link. That necessitated the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society to come up with a software engineering code of ethics which you can read here.

Because errors in programming were not causing large scale mishaps, buggy code was (and still is) mostly tolerated as a nuisance. But this article makes you rethink that notion. The code of ethics is a welcome step in that area, though I don't see that being followed religiously. (Do doctors follow the Hippocratic oath?). Yet, this code of ethics, done in 1999, is a welcome step in that area that exhorts software engineers to give their profession due importance not from just a monetary point of view but also as a responsibility they have towards their organizations and to society at large.

Is there any company/organization that kind of mandates its employees to follow the software engineering code of ethics?