Converted from page to post… its just the same old post I wrote a year back.. Just that, I didn’t like too many pages on the blog.

This is my first post after joining IIT. I had given more than a couple of interviews and finally landed up in IIT Bombay with specialisation in EE . I am a basically a comp science guy and had appeared for GATE in comp science. You’ll be wondering why did I choose EE rather than CS. I’ll tell you the whole build up to how we both(EE & I) chose each other. Also, I am more than glad that I have discovered that programming is not everything after joining EE and thus being myself and not following the herd.

I’ll start this with the  GATE preparations. Aspirants seeking guidelines for preparing GATE CS might like to look at my post “GATE CS Prepare”. I had done pretty well in the preparation of GATE and also featured in top 25 in 2 out of 4 tests that I appeared in GATEFORUM although I had not completed the syllabus. But I screwed up the GATE exam very badly and was able to score only 98.21 percentile(a pathetic rank of 747). The reasons of my failure were a plenty…..

1>I had prepared for GATE solving the previous year problems rather than reading the entire theory/content.  I had approached GATE with a problem oriented frame of mind.

2> Did not take Software Engg and Web seriously as it was newly introduced to the syllabus.

3> Had not completed even half of the compiler design.

4> Due to some external factors couldn’t prepare well in last 15 days right before the exam.

But, never the matter, i didn’t loose heart and applied for IITs and IISc for both MS(R) and M.Tech in hope that I ‘ll crack the test and interview if given a chance as some of my friends, whom I used to beat them in the preparatory test to GATE had secured ranks in double figure. Believing in myself was important at the time of applying. I had prepared well for Engg Maths and Discrete Maths and those were the strong points for me. I also had very good exposure of C Programming and had always done better in these areas than my counterparts.

IITB – CS [25th may’09]

After a few frustrating weeks, I indeed got my first call that too from IITB for a test & interview for M.Tech in Computer Science. There were around 400+ guys competing for it. The questions in the test were basically from Discrete Maths especially Graph Theory ang logic, Analytical skills, C Programming and one problem on computer networks.  There were in total 20 questioons divided into 4 areas- Maths, Analytical skills, Computer science, and C Programming. I cleared the test with  good scores. There were around 60-80 candidates selected for the next round.  I had appeared in GATE with a desire to do my Masters in Priority 1 -Wireless communication or Priority 2- AI and ML, Before the tests we were introduced to various Assistantships as well as projects by the faculties of CS. My old love wireless did feature in a couple of projects and I didn’t find them very innovative. So, I decide upon  my second preference. We were supposed to give out our two preferences in order for the interviews. I luckily ended up getting selected for the interview on both the preferences which I had opted for namely, NLP and Machine Translation. Both of them somehow related to AI. I also had descent knowledge of NLP.

I waited for more than 5 hours for my turn to come…. and finally I was the last man to be inerviewed. I was interviewd by Prof Pushpak Bhatacharya. By the way, Prof. Pushpak is a stalwart in NLP and has developed wordnet libraries for many Indian languages and also heads the NLP group comprising of IIT-B, IIT-D, IIIT-H and a few more institutes. As soon as I entered, the first thing that was conveyed to me was that its a short interview and will be of not more than5 minutes. The interview generally lasts more than 20 to 40 minutes. I  was also told that I had scored heavily in the test. That gave me some confidence. But my confidence came crashing down when a question was asked on recurrence relation and I wasn’t able to solve. I was also asked a question on Generating function and again i failed miserably. Finally, I corrected a couple of mistakes committed in the written test as I was asked to. He did turn up with the question as what was my strong area and I replied confidently “NLP” and my interview ended abruptly after asking my job profile which was then a a developer/researcher in remotely connected to NLP  domain at TRDDC….

I had screwed up my interview badly and facial expression was to say it all. Before leaving, Prof did try to console me by telling that the results are not dependent only on interview rather they’ll be also taking into account the GATE rank, test marks and profile. But, i knew i had lost.

After, a week the results were announced and as expected i could not make it.

MS(R) , SERC, IISc[9th june’09]

Next interview I was called for was from SERC , IISc . None of the areas mentioned in the list interested me but still I wanted to face the heat and went for the interview giving my preference as Databases which consisted of  XML databases, Query optimization, etc… although not being of my interest . This group is headed by Prof Haritsa and he is considered to be one of the top 3 in Databases in India. I appeared for the test and easily cleared it. There were 5 question and time given was informally 20-25 minutes. The questions were related to Speed-distance, code snippet, Analytical skills. Out of 30 odd, they had selected 3.  Soon after the test my interview was taken and most of the answers that came from me were ” I don’t know” as they were specific to database and I hardly had any clue. Also, i didn’t like to do the guess work as it is not advisable during interview. Also, I did enjoy the interview as I didn’t have much interest in joining it. Finally, i was let off in a formal way although it could have been otherwise..worse[kicked.. no…hair-dryer treatment …. save me…]. But somehow, I escaped all these. I really loved the greenery there.

EE, IIT-Bombay [25th june’09]

While applying for IIT-Bombay, I had also written other department mentioning EE and hence, i got a call. I had applied for communications thinking that in case I get “Wireless” specialisation, I would grab it with both hands. I had applied only for communications as there was no point applying for streams which do not interest me much. I wrote the test and again somehow cracked it. There were 25 questions out of which any 20 were to be answered. There was almost equal number of questions in mathematics and electrical related. Surprisingly, I was one of the toppers in the test among communications guys although I didn’t know half of the question paper (I do not know if it was true, but it was as told by interviewers. Many were told same thing and so I dont trust this info). I might have been lucky as there was no negative marking and I had guessed the electrical questions with some intuitions. Anyways, I thought this was my day. I was interviewed by a panel of 5 prof/asst. prof. I wasn’t asked any of the questions on electrical, rather I was asked a couple of linux commands, Mobile adhoc metwork scenarios, networking protocols ARP and my data mining. Data mining and Mobil ad hoc network questions came up due to its mention in my resume. Interview was pretty easy and cool. I was quite confident and answered everything to the point. Although, the interview took around half an hour , I never felt it took more than 5 minutes where as the interview I faced against Prof Pushpak I felt just the reverse(5 min interview as half an hour ). I was confident of my selection but you never know. i finally got the result on 7th July and I was assigned a Project  RA in Wireless and Sensor Networking under Professor Merchant. I finally talked to professor about the project and a couple of my friends and finally decide to give a shot.

Here in EE, I realized that Programming is an essential part and not everything. Infact, mathematical foundations are an essential armoury for computer science which I wouldn’t have got, had I joined the CS dept.

But, the path to knowledge becomes more difficult as I also need to cope up with the foundations of EE and Maths at the same time. But, you aren’t well contented unless you do something which is hard to get.

More about GATE preparations and life in IIT will be coming … Keep watching this space