Thursday, March 29, 2007

Was it worth?

My life at Syracuse University is close to an end. I have a GPA of 3.75 and might end up with a GPA of 3.9 if all goes well. I have been a research assistant for two years, worked extensively on computer/network security and OS internals. I have done independent study on genetic algorithms and have taken advanced courses like Compiler Design, Computer Security etc and to top it all I have been nominated for the Phi Beta Delta honor society. In short, I have achieved whatever one can possibly ask from a graduate school.... but was it all worth?

Well it may seem strange that I am questioning the worth of something I enjoyed doing. Life has been exceedingly fair to me till now but it seems that it has something else in store for me now. I haven't got a job yet, mostly because I have been picky about the jobs and that I have been rejected by all the jobs that I pick. Another sword of Damocles is the constant threat of H1B visas getting over. My future is totally unpredictable... I might break down, submit to consultants and work on some SAP/Peoplesoft job(god nooooo................). My daily schedule now includes talking to consultants, relatives and friends about jobs, checking the H1B quota.. praying for it to increase(first time in my life I am following politics :( ). All I need is a decent ground to launch a career.. Is that asking too much? I dont care about the money.. I have worked for free in the past.. all I want is exciting cutting edge work... Am i just a wide eyed academician and there is no such thing as "exciting work"? Would I grow old like everyone else and then oneday tell my kids and grandkids that I was once a good grad student... ?

I am in paranoid city.. so maybe I am thinking too much. May be something interesting will come along.. maybe I will get a good job...until then I gotta keep going.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What next??

I've seen my share of movies and read enough literature but every piece of work seems to end abruptly and makes me crave for more. There have been instances when I saw five movies back to back or read two novels without any break. Tragedy, comedy, fantasy or fiction; nothing ever seems complete. They only focus on the beginning of the "real" story.

One genre of movies shows the hero in abject conditions, he rises on occasion, and at the end achieves his goal. My question: what next?

I saw Iqbal today. Its about a poor village boy, deaf and dumb, who makes it to Indian cricket team, with the help of a mentor, who in a way redefined himself and found his own courage with the help of the boy. Finally he does makes it to the team, but what happens next?

Initially you have nothing to lose, the support of your family and everything to gain. So either you succeed or stay the same. Nothing much can happen to you. The case is reversed when you succeed: You have much to lose, you are away from your family, the gains are not all that great and you cant stay at same position. So what would have happened to Iqbal(whom I described in the para above)? What happens after he makes it to the Indian Cricket team, his mentor dies and he is away from his family on an international match?

Having goals is nice. Redefining your goals after you reach your goal is better. I have had loads of acquaintances who had set a very specific goal for their life... getting into IIT, being an engineer, studying in America etc etc... they did not fare too well after they achieved their goals. So basically an average person spends around 25 years of his life achieving his goals, next 40 years riding on his achievements... and after that..probably hoping to get recognized without doing any work. Of course there are exceptions, like the "KFC" colonel who started business at the age of 65. There should be more movies and novels about the story after "the success"...don't you think?

My career goal is to be a CTO in a big MNC.. my own MNC. The odds against me achieving that goal are great.. but hey! I have a lifetime to achieve it :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Weather in Syracuse..

Weather in Syracuse requires a special mention. Yesterday night the temperature was 28F(-2C) and today morning its 0F(-18C) and it feels like -21F(-30C) due to wind chill and blowing snow. Pretty drastic change in temperature in one night...don't you think?

Its said that once a professor at SU missed summer in Syracuse. It fell on Tuesday and he was out of town.(from PBH memoirs)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Compiler Design....

Before I dive into the meat of the topic, I would like to mention that I am a HUGE fan of Per Brinch Hansen... so whatever viewpoints I express in this post, will totally be partial to him.Per Brinch Hansen is teaching me Compiler Design this year and I need to implement 6 phases of a compiler, for a minimalistic language(PL), incrementally for the course completion. I am already done with the scanner and parser.Programming should be a thoughtless process. It should be as obvious as Maths.

Most of you guys(that is, if you are in Computer Science) would have taken design courses(OO etc ). How many times did you have trouble implementing a properly designed code? If your design is good, you should have none, but the idiosyncrasies of the programming language sometime do corner you at some nasty implementation issue. Everyone has seen a nasty memory leak or a typo ruining the whole logic of your implementation. According to Prof Hansen:
Programming should be a thoughtless process. It should be as obvious as Maths. If you are asked the value of 5+2, you would say 7. Have you ever stopped and tried to derive that. Programming should be like that.
Yesterday I was writing the parser, which mainly involved sifting through the PL code and producing a JAVA implementation for the PL's BNF. PL's grammar had some 50 rules which needed to be implemented in the form of around 50 functions. Following the design rules and restrictions imposed by him, I was able to code the parser in just four straight hours!! The code compiled with no syntax errors!! I spent around a day testing it rigorously..and nothing failed!! In fact at one point of time, programming seemed more like documentation. I even wrote vi macros to construct the function skeleton from the grammar rule in the comment (I hate typing:P ). Cant wait to finish rest of phases...

PS: BTW the EFS project ,I was talking about in the earlier post, is implemented and all the issues are resolved. Too bad its proprietary :(

PPS: A colleague forwarded me this link. Turn out that Per Brinch Hansen was the one who came up with the idea of an OS kernel!!