Turing Award winners in India

Microsoft Research (MSR) India had organized Tech Vista in Bangalore on January 12, 2006 as part of their first anniversary function.

Incidentally this date coincides with the birthday of Swami Vivekananda).

Sir Hoare, the British Scientist, the inventor of Quick Sort algorithm (that every CS student learns in his very first set of courses), and 1980 Turing Award winner (considered the Nobel Prize in Computing) currently with MSR and Professor Raj Reddy, Founding Director of Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and 1994 Turing Award winner were there as special guests. MSR had invited about 50 college students and high school students in addition to many IT professionals in Bangalore.

Tony Hoare talked on “My forty years in Computing” starting from his study of the philosophy of mathematics in UK, probability theory in Moscow, his early experiments in computer translation of Russian to English and the need to keep the words sorted so as to optimize the sequential processing of data in a magnetic tape (with no large scale RAM or Disk available at that time), which in turn led to his invention of Quick Sort algorithm. It was interesting to listen to his view “proving correctness of programs will be of little interest to industry people during his research career in Oxford”; and, his current observation that “Industry taking active interest in program correctness today”. Interestingly, right in Bangalore, MSR India researcher Sriram Rajamani is leading a group “rigorous software engineering”.

Professor Raj Reddy’s talk on “Research Directions in Digital Libraries” brought out the many challenges in OCR, machine translation, speech, classification and summarization.

Other distinguished speakers include Rick Rashid (of Mach o/s fame) who heads MSR (the Lab with the largest research annual budget of $ 5 Billion in the world), Princeton Engineering Dean Maria Kluwe, Professor Takeo Kanade, the world-renowned Robotics researcher of CMU, Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala (of corDECT fame) of IIT Madras, Dr Tan Ling of MSR and Andrew Zisserman (the best known Computer Vision researcher in the world) of Oxford University.

It was indeed a day of listening to exciting talks and getting influenced by inspiring people; more importantly, it was also a unique experience of interacting with outstanding human beings and feel the “humility” of such great men and women.

The added attraction was the meeting of several renowned researchers from IIT’s and IIIT’s, research labs (HP, IBM, Infineon, Infosys, Philips, Siemens and TCS), budding researchers and young students.

Kapil Sibal, Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology inaugurated the function and spoke extraordinarily well. There was also the launch of Virtual India that brings interactive digital maps of India in the hands of common man and woman in India.

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