Archive for the ‘My views on global developments’ Category

Michael Jackson is dead; for several hours there is deadly silence in some parts of many web-sites including Twitter and Google sites

June 27, 2009

The king of pop Michael Jackson died on June 26, 2009 at LA.

With 750 million album sales Jackson is a phenomenon unparalleled in history. Many of us are ignorant of this pat of human activity; but what caught my attention was the fact that Jackson’s death could bring down parts of Google and Twitter; people either got an error message or very slow to no response for several hours on these two hugely popular global sites, demonstrating that the online world is susceptible to the problems similar to the physical world (I remembered the chaos on the road when Rajkumar died in Bangalore or MGR died in Madras)

President Obama on consumer protection

June 20, 2009

In his weekly address to the Nation on June 19, 2009 President Obama talks of the need to create a fair and competitive market system that protects the interest of the common man. What is particularly striking are the following

“An epidemic of irresponsibility took hold from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street.  And the consequences have been disastrous”

“We are going to promote markets that work for those who play by the rules. We’re going to stand up for a system in which fair dealing and honest competition are the only way to win———but not those that allow insiders to exploit its weaknesses for their own gain”

“And one of the most important proposals is a new oversight agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. It’s charged with just one job: looking out for the interests of ordinary Americans in the financial system” 

” Today, folks signing up for a mortgage, student loan, or credit card face a bewildering array of incomprehensible options. Companies compete not by offering better products, but more complicated ones – with more fine print and hidden terms”

“This new agency —–will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want – and actually understand. Those ridiculous contracts – pages of fine print that no one can figure out – will be a thing of the past. You’ll be able to compare products – with descriptions in plain language – to see what is best for you”

“Some argue that these changes – and the many others we’ve called for – go too far———That’s not surprising. That’s Washington”

“Well, the American people did not send me to Washington to give in to the special interests; the American people sent me to Washington to stand up for their interests.  And while I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one.”

Ramanujan Rediscovered International Conference on Math & IT

June 1, 2009

As Head of IIIT-B I had to speak at the Conference

Ramanujan Rediscovered

Elliptic Functions, Q-series, Partitions and Related Number Theory, with parallel sessions on Mathematics and IT

A Tribute to Prof K. Venkatachaliengar’s life and work

It was nice to see Prof Bruce Berndt of Univ.. of Illinois; an outstanding mathematician. Prof Berndt has published 7 books on Ramanujan (Five on Ramanujan’s Notes and two on Ramanujan Lost Notes), Prof AK Agarwal, President of the Indian Mathematics Society  and several distinguished mathematicians attending the conference. The partial list includes

  1. Prof Bruce Berndt, University of Illinois, US
  2. Prof Krishnaswami Alladi, University of Florida, US
  3. Prof Satya Deo, Harish Chandra Institute, India
  4. Prof Shaun Cooper, Massey University, New Zealand
  5. Prof Mike Hirschhorn, University of New South Wales, Australia
  6. S. Bhargava, Mysore University, India
  7. Ashok Kumar Agarwal, Panjab University, India
  8. R. Balasubramanian, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, India
  9. K. Ramachandra, National Institute of Advanced Studies, India
  10. N. D. Baruah, Tezpur University, India
  11. Frank Garvan, University of Florida, US
  12. Tim Huber, Iowa State University, US
  13. Song Heng Chan, Nanyang Technological University,
  14. Pee Choon Toh, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  15. Zhi-Guo Liu, East China Normal University, China
  16. Hamza Yesilyurt, Bilkent University, Turkey
  17. Michael Schlosser, Universität Wien, Austria
  18. Ae Ja Yee, Pennsylvania State University, US
  19. K. Srinivasa Rao, Mathematics Museum, PSTC, Kotturpuram, India

There were several contributed papers.

In a parallel track “Math &IT” there were several talks / Tutorials. Prominent speakers included

  1. Prof. Ravichandran, IIM Indore
  2. Prof. Y. Narahari, IISc
  3. Prof. Vijay Chandru – IISc and Strand Genomics
  4. Dr. M Sakthi Balan – Infosys
  5. Prof. Veni Madhavan IISc
  6. Prof. Ramanujan – CDAC
  7. Prof. Raghavan IISc
  8. Prof. Srinath IIIT-B
  9. Dr. Ravi Gorthi, Infosys

It is an exciting are; it is time IT professionals take a serious look at Mathematics.

Mr K Dinesh, Co-Founder Infosys, Mr Srikantan Moorthy, Head, Education & Research too spoke on Day 1

All in all it is an enjoyable experience; one hopes to make it an annual conference organized by IIIT-B

(IIIT-B along with Indian Mathematics Society (and funding from Infosys, DST, Microsoft & Indo-US S&T Forum organized this 5-Day Conference at Infosys Campus)

India matters to the world – Vodafone and Suzuki find it

May 22, 2009

Two independent reports talk of

  1. Vodafone ending the year (Apr 08- Mar 09) with 16.8% increase in profit on higher revenue from emerging markets mainly India
  2. Growth in India raises Suzuki profit to $ 106 million

Interesting times indeed!

IEEE is 125 years old today

May 13, 2009

IEEE the world’s largest body of professional members turns 125 today (May 13, 2009), an important landmark

Not many organizations have been able to go through such transformations and “re-inventions” as IEEE has gone through over the decades.

Starting in 1884 as American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) the Institute had its beginnings in the East Coast of America (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and the early members had telegraph, power and telecom background (Norvin Green of Western Union, Thomas Edison  and Graham Bell, respectively). An independent society Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) started in 1912 was influenced by Marconi and his wireless work. With the invention of television, radar, transistors, ICs and computers there was significant overlap in the societies’ work and they merged in 1963 to form IEEE. It was predominantly an American Society with 140,000 of its 150,000 members in USA.

Today IEEE is an organization with 375,000 members in 160 countries and 43% of its members are outside USA.

30% if world’s literature in EE & CS originate from 850+ IEEE Conferences & dozens of IEEE Journals / Transactions. IEEE has 1,300 standards under its belt.

I feel particularly happy as I have a long association with IEEE over 35 years; I am a Senior Member today; my office at RUTGERS (where I was teaching in 1997) had IEEE warehouses on my backyard (Piscataway in New Jersey). Bangalore happens to be one of the 8 cities where IEEE 125th Year celebrations are on

Let me wish IEEE yet another glorious century, nay, a millennium

Obama’s first 100 days

May 2, 2009

President Obama completed 100 days on April 30, 2009.

It is interesting to see the two extremes;

  • on one hand, USA is going through difficulties that no one could believe will materialize even just a year back; financial crisis, collapse of investment banks, poor showing by almost all corporations, Wall Street mayhem PLUS natural calamities – floods, and now the news of swine flu;
  • on the other hand, here is a President Obama is taking so many steps with a boldness that is unforeseen in human history

Naturally, every every survey concludes that  about 15% just hate the President – not done anything to bring cheers; yet, 80+% of the people continue to feel Obama is their best bet; he is honest, he is capable and he is bold enough to attack the problems in so many fronts that even if a fraction succeeds it will make huge positive difference to the citizens

The next 100 days will be interesting to watch, particularly the way Obama administration handles the flu crisis

President Kalam does India proud again

April 29, 2009

Today (April 29, 2009) former President APJ Abdul Kalam received Hoover Medal, the first Asian to get this Award in the 73 years of the award (given 59 times so far). The award ceremony was held in Columbia University in New York.

Administered by ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) on behalf of five societies (ASME, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American Society of Chemical Engineers (ASChE) and American Society of Mining, Metallurgical & Petroleum Engineers), Hoover Medal is given to engineers who serve the larger humanitarian cause.

The award was endowed by Conard McLauer who was inspired by the outstanding and super efficient relief services rendered during 1914-23 by Herbert Hoover (who became the 31st President of the United States).

By receiving Hoover Medal Dr Kalam does India proud once again; he has done so many things to the country.

Interestingly, both Hoover and Kalam represent the case of exemplary engineers becoming Presidents of their respective countries; both are “rank outsiders” and had tough time handling the “political class”! Dr Kalam is lucky though; the “current great depression” was after he laid down office; President Hoover saw the great depression of 1928 within months of his taking over and he lost the1932  Election!

US President has interesting CXO

April 25, 2009

In his weekly address to the Nation on April 18, 2009 President Obama talks of bringing accountability to the government spending. He talked of the appointment of Jeffrey Zeints a former CEO as his Chief Performance Officer (CPO). The President talks of Jeffrey bring the much needed process efficiency and the need for the government to prune spending – removing projects and programs that do not deliver and investing more on those projects that have maximum benefit for citizens; he expects Jeffrey to bring in the “process performance” dimension to government. He also announced that Aneesh Chopra formerly with Virginia Commonwealth government will take over as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to bring the most relevant technology to measure performance and for the government to bet on the right technologies to benefit America. He also mentioned that both of them will work closely with Vivek Kundra the President’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).

It is interesting to see President Obama choosing the right CXO’s for his government – a step in the right direction. One hope the new government in Delhi (that should be in place by mid May 2009) will take some clue!

Wal-Mart moves to No 2; Exxon is no 1

April 19, 2009

For years WalMart (the retail major) has occupied the No 1 slot; buoyed by the high energy costs for much of 2008, Exxon is No 1 globally with revenue of  $ 442.85 billion.

Interestingly oil companies occupy 4  of the Top 10 positions; Chevron (3), ConocoPhilips (4) and Valero (10)

Wal Mart is at 2nd position; GE is at 5th position

Auto majors GM and Ford are in 6th and 7th position.

AT & T is at 8th position; HP is in 9th position.

The tech majors (GE, AT&T and HP) are in Top 10.

Fifty years of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s exile from Tibet

March 12, 2009

On March 11, 1959 marked the Tibetan revolt against Chinese aggression. On that day the Tibetan spiritual leader and the Novel Laureate (just 23 years old then) had to flee Tibet and take refuge in India.

For fifty years His Holiness Dalai Lama has been fighting the Tibetan cause. While the international community (including India) talks of supporting the just cause of Dalai Lama the sheer economic might of China makes all the world Nations do very little in taking up the cause with Chinese. Interestingly, Mr. Hu Jintao the current Chines Premier was the Head of Lhasa region when martial law was imposed 20 years ago.

One hopes His Holiness will get to see a free Tibet in his life time