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Erdős Number

According to wikipedia, “Erdős number describes the ‘collaborative distance’ between a person and Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers.” So, who is this Paul Erdős and why is his number famous?

Paul Erdős was a famous mathematician who had an enormous output of mathematical papers. Because of his enormous output, his friends created a metric as a tribute to him. According to this metric, Paul Erdős gets the Erdős number 0. Anyone who has co-authored a paper with him gets an Erdős Number 1. Anyone who has co-authored a paper with a person having an Erdős Number 1 and not directly with Paul Erdős, gets an Erdős Number 2 and so on.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, I believed that I had an Erdős Number of 4! I recently wrote a paper with my Professor, Dr. Ramakrishna Kakarala, who has an Erdős number of 3. This got me excited! The complete tree being: Vittal -> Kakarala -> Kelttee -> J. H. Straight -> Erdős. Therefore, my Erdős Number should be 4, right?

If you were a keen reader, you would have observed that I mentioned “I believed” and not “I believe”. The reason being, I was wrong! I do not have an Erdős Number of 4 though I have collaborated with my professor who has an Erdős Number of 3. I missed a crucial part of the definition of the Erdős Number. “Erdős number describes the ‘collaborative distance’ between a person and Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers.” There you have it. Sadly, the paper that I wrote was not a mathematical paper. For a paper to be a mathematical paper, it has to be published in journals or conferences dedicated to mathematics.

Its funny how people can go from a state of euphoria to a state of despondency within a matter of seconds! Ah, but this is life…

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Nature’s Unchangeable Path

Today morning I got up to the usual sound of the alarm from my mobile phone. Sleepily, I walked across my room and opened the window to let in some of the fresh chilly morning air. The air blowing on my face usually wakes my brain up and helps me get my day started. On some days I have to take the help of coffee and on others, nothing helps at all! Today was a different day though. I was wide-awake after opening the window just half way through…

My room’s window has a sliding mechanism to open and close the glass pane. Therefore, you just have to push the glass in either direction to get the job done. While this looks to be a straightforward job, little did I realise that pushing it open today, would hurt a living creature.

When I opened the window today morning, I saw a poor butterfly get struck between the window’s railings. I had not realised that it had taken shelter on the other side of the window for the night. The butterfly was haplessly fluttering its wings and trying to get away from the “death grip”. It was such a saddening sight and I wanted to help the harmless creature. The fact that its wings were struck in the railings meant that I could just not slide the glass pane in the either direction. It would in fact injure the insect even more.

While I was thinking of what to do, the multicoloured insect was fluttering continuously with all its might. The vigorous fluttering had eventually tired the insect, as it was lay silent for the next couple of minutes. I had fears that its wings might be damaged and was wondering if it would ever to fly again. I just did not know what to do. Every solution I thought of would in fact hurt the butterfly further.

After rejecting most of the ideas, I stuck to the least painful method. I decided to lift the glass pane to increase the gap between the glass and railings, enabling the butterfly to fly to freedom. I slowly lifted the glass pane and the butterfly started fluttering again. I had to blow at it to help it get away from this claustrophobic space. Once it reached the end of the glass pane, it flew into the open air celebrating its freedom. It looked to me that the insect was not completely at ease with itself and was trying to reach a nearby tree to settle down. What a joyous moment it was to see the insect escape from a near death position. However, the joy was short lived…

Just when it seemed that the butterfly would find sanctity in the nearby tree, a mynah came swooping in from nowhere and caught the injured insect in its beaks. It was both a stunning and a sad sight. Stunning because I was amazed at the predatory skills of that bird as it caught a flying insect in mid air and sad because the butterfly had finally met its end.

I had to acknowledge that this was how nature worked and that Nature had already planned the time each creature would meet its end. At the most, it is only possible to delay the inevitable, but not stop it completely.

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CVPR 2010

This year’s CVPR was nothing short of a major milestone in SCE’s history. There were quite a few remarkable achievements in the top most conference in the field of Computer Vision. Here is the refreshing mail that greeted us today morning.

Hi all,

I have some wonderful news to share, fresh from here at CVPR’2010 in San Francisco:

SCE student Duan Lixin, with Xu Dong and Ivor Tsang, has just won the Best Student Paper Prize at CVPR’2010!!!

In addition, SCE has produced 3 oral papers at this CVPR, in terms of 1st author affiliation. This ranks SCE/NTU second among all organizations in the world as far as the number of oral papers is concerned. We are just behind ETH Zurich which has 4 oral papers, and we beat traditional CVPR powerhouses such as CMU, Stanford, MIT, Columbia, U Washington, Microsoft Research (all labs combined), Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge, TU Graz, Technion, Weizmann and many others including NUS!

Furthermore, SCE has produced 6 poster papers for a total of 9 papers, which is a bumper crop compared to our numbers in the past (1 or 2, some 4 years ago and earlier)! I’ve heard various well known people remarking on the strong presence of NTU (mainly SCE, I think there is only 1 other poster from EEE) at this year’s CVPR.

The IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) is one of the triumvirate top conferences in computer vision. It is very competitive with an overall acceptance rate this year of 26.7%, of which oral papers have an extremely small acceptance rate of 4.5%. Despite having only 461 papers at the main conference this year, it is heavily attended with some 1900 registered attendees.

Tat Jen

(with CVPR’10 published SCE faculty of Dong, Ivor, Deepu, Maylor, Clement, Ramakrishna, Jianmin and Jianfei)


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A Weekend Retreat to Bintan

Bintan, is a small island belonging to Indonesia. Being just a 50 mins ferry ride from Singapore, Bintan offers people staying in Singapore a perfect get away for a weekend from their hectic and mechanized life. It also offers tourists who visit Singapore a nice place to explore and enjoy the calm lives on the Indonesian island. Bintan has some major resorts, most of them close to the beach. People usually book for resort villas/rooms from Singapore itself. Getting work done from Singapore is really easy as the resorts have set up offices and information facilities in Singapore.

I had been to Bintan for the weekend (22nd and 23rd May, 2010) and stayed in the Bintan Lagoon Resort. Reaching Bintan is not at all a problem as there are a number of ferries from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Two way tickets in the comfortable ferries are available for SGD62. The Bintan Resorts feels to be completely secluded from the hustle of towns and cities in the main island. The resorts have their own bus facilities to pick their customers up from the Ferry terminal and drop them back. Bintan Lagoon Resort is 20 mins drive from the Bintan Resort Ferry Terminal.
The resort is self-sufficient with restaurants and apartments. Each villa is given a buggy of its own for moving around the resort. The resort has a Leisure Center where people can relax and enjoy themselves in a number of ways. It has TT tables, indoor games for small children, Laser Quest for youth, a video game room, a swimming pool for people of all ages, and many other recreational facilities.
The beach of the South China Sea is 5 mins walk from the rooms and villas. The waves in the beach are not as strong and tall as the ones we see in India. They are much calmer and much more peaceful. Sunset is the time that has to be spent in the beach. Apart from this, there is also a Golf course and an archery range within the resort.
Overall, the two days that I spent in Bintan was a relaxing and memorable one. I would definitely like to go there again some time in the future.
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Second Semester Exams

Long long time since I wrote a blog post and what better time to write one than now. 12 in the midnight, taking a break from studies, surfing the web, reading blogs, which made me think, why not post something myself? As its exam time here for me, it will be a short blog post and as the topic says, it will be something about the exams.

As my lightening quick second semester comes to a close, all that there is left for me to do is to do well in the final exams. I took three courses this semester which include Advanced Digital Signal Processing, Video Signal Processing and Human Computer Interaction. Being a Computer Science Engineer, it was brave of me to choose two Masters level courses from the School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE), and just one from my school (SCE). Ever since I took the Digital Signal Processing course in my first semester, I have been extremely interested in learning more about Signals. Thats the reason I took up Advanced Digital Signal Processing. Though a novice in Signal Processing (everyone else in my class are from EEE background with extensive knowledge in the same), I was brave enough to choose it.

My first exam (ADSP) is on 27th April, 2010. The third and final one is on 5th May, 2010. Completing these exams (passing them :P) would meant that I would have completed my course requirements. I had to complete 6 courses in total, 3 of which I had finished in my first semester. I am hoping to be done with these three as I can concentrate full time on my research. Praying that all goes well in my second semester exams at NTU.
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Shishu Mandir – World Wide Volunteer Week(WWVW)

In my previous blog entry I was talking about how Sun organizes volunteer activities to make the world a better place. This a continuation of that but a different chapter. After the arduous work at Sangam, it was now time to help out children. Rajesh U.S. had organized a one day event to help out the children in need. I volunteered to help out as, it would be one of the greatest helping hand I could ever provide to humanity.

The place Shishu Mandir, located in Bangalore, is a schooling place for orphans and the needy. It is such a great initiative to help out the young kids so that they can lead a better life in their future. We had a lot of things planned to help out the children. We conducted fun events like Musical Chair and Passing the Ball so that the children could have a great time. We had arranged prizes for the winners of each competition.

We also organized a painting competition so that they could express their artistic talent. Each kid was given a drawing sheet, crayons, sketch pens, and other stationary. The volunteers were helping out the children in drawing and coloring. Some of them were absolutely brilliant.

Post-lunch we gathered all the kids in a room. Some of the kids sang songs and were rewarded with sweets. There were children as small as 4-5 years old, who faced the crowd and sang. They did not have that stage fear. If only they could be given a ‘real stage’ …

While the kids were singing, dancing and enjoying themselves, we were acting as judges for the painting competition. We gave out three prizes in each category. This made a lot of them seriously happy. Finally, it was time to leave and it was so hard to do that. Though it was just a matter of 5-7 hours, the kids left a lasting impression in my heart. I will never forget this activity in my life.

Finally, I would like to say this. Everyday, we crave for a zillion fancy things that are not actually essential in our daily lives. On the other hand there are a zillion people out there who do not even have the most necessary and basic things to LEAD A LIFE!!!

Shishu Mandir Volunteer Team


Shishu Mandir Volunteer Team

More Photos Here and some more below.



Shishu Mandir

Shishu Mandir – Musical Chair Game

Shishu Mandir – Painting Competition

Shishu Mandir – Painting Competition Part 2

Shishu Mandir – Lunch with the kids

Shishu Mandir – Prize Distribution

Shishu Mandir – The volunteers


Posted at 04:13PM Apr 20, 2009 by Vittal P in Sun

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Sangam Eco Drive – World Wide Volunteer Week (WWVW)

There is no bigger joy than the joy you get out of helping. Sun Microsystems has this amazing initiative of organising lots of volunteer activities for one whole week. This week, named World Wide Volunteer Week (WWVW) is dedicated for all kinds of voluntary services. Sun Microsystems, IEC Bangalore, has done an amazing job in conducting the voluntary activities.

When I heard about the events, I most certainly wanted to participate in as many as I could. I participated in two full day voluntary events. On April the 18th, 2009, there was an eco-drive voluntary service, aimed at helping out the environment. On this day, about 50 volunteers (me included) made a short trip to a place called Sangam(100 kms from Bangalore), which is a confluence of two rivers. This is a major picnic spot and picnic spots go hand in hand with litter. We planned to clean up this place and educate the locals as well as the tourists, not to litter and maintain a clean and healthy environment. This activity was supported by an organisation namely Clean and Green, again situated in Bangalore.

Upon reaching Sangam, we were shocked to see it in such a sorry state. There were litter thrown around, plastic bottles, paper plates and all sorts of miscellaneous garbage. Armed with gloves, rakes, gunny bags, and the drive to make the world a better place, we went around cleaning and collecting the items strewn on the ground. Me and my friends formed up teams to rid the place of plastic bottles. We picked the bottles for 1 hour and were able to collect 6 gunny bags full of discarded bottles.

Once that was done, we helped the Clean and Green team to install Cement Rings, so that people could use them as dustbins and not litter the place in future. Once the rings were placed at strategic locations, we painted them with blue and green. I thought painting was an easy job, but it was when I actually started painting that I knew, how tough a job it was. Once this was done, we wrote out notices, so that people could start using them in future. But the most important thing that we did was to educate the people over there to stop littering the place and start using the bins that we had installed.

Once I was done working, I had this amazing satisfaction that I HAD CONTRIBUTED for making the world a better place to live in !!!


Sangam Volunteer Team


Sangam Volunteer team with the litter bags collected.


More Photos here.


– Posted at 03:24PM Apr 20, 2009 by Vittal P in Sun


140 Kgs of plastic was collected.

Posted by Tirthankar on April 21, 2009 at 05:53 PM IST


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Inauguration of the Technical Club, ASTC at BNMIT

Well, here I am writing another blog post. This one is an unique experience. I have never done anything like this before. So, it is a first time for me.

I was asked to be a distinguished guest for the inauguration of the technical club at BNMIT.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a student in BNMIT named Jayanth M.P. He told me that they were inaugurating a technical club in their college and it was going to be a grand one (It definitely was a grand opening). He had asked me if I could be present there for the inauguration and I did agree for it. He also wanted a SUN Employee to be present there to grace the occasion. He requested for an Employee and finally Rajesh U.S., the SUNCA co-ordinator for south India himself agreed to be there.

We were formally greeted by the BNMIT mangement upon reaching their campus. We were made to sit in the board room along with the Principal, the Director, all the Dept HoDs and a couple of other dignitories from other companies. We were served snacks and drinks. It was weird to be in a social environment with all these high profile people (remember, I am still an Under-Grad Student).

We were then taken to the auditorium for the inauguration. Again, it was all completely formal environment which I had never experienced before. We were introduced to the crowd and were given bouquets of appreciation by the institution!!!

Let me come back to the crux of the event. ASTC stands for Advanced Software Technologies Club. I really liked the name. It is kind of unique and also turns out into a cool acronym. The inauguration started of well and there was Rajesh with his presentation talking to the students about the OUSM group and the SAI programs. The students were indeed keen to learn more about this program. It was quite an enlightening talk to most of them present there.

Crowd at BNMIT

Crowd at BNMIT

I was called mainly to speak about the SUN CA program and its benefits. I wanted to make it a crisp but an appealing talk which I eventually managed to do. My job was to wake the students up, who were in that hall for 2.5 hrs. God! they were a patient crowd. I was in fact quite amazed at how quite and calm they were throughout the inauguration. When I walked onto the stage, I got the flow that I needed to make a good speech. I was there representating all the SUN CA’s across the world. I talked to the students about growing a community, being innovative, contributing to the community and a couple of other thoughts which I think each student must and should follow.

Me giving a talk at BNMIT during the inauguration of their technical club, ASTC


I am completely happy that I got an opportunity to present my views in front of a big crowd in a different campus! Finally, I would like to thank BNMIT for inviting me (a “mere” student) to represent the Campus Ambassador community at such a major event in their institution.


– Posted at 06:20PM Mar 30, 2009 by Vittal P in Sun



Must have been a great experience to be a chief guest (and at a very young age too.. 🙂

Posted by Nischal E Rao on March 31, 2009 at 06:10 PM IST


I was not the chief guest 😛
“Just” a distinguished guest 🙂

Posted by Vittal P on March 31, 2009 at 11:20 PM IST

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First Even Semester Technical Activity

Today I finished the first technical seminar for the even semester.

Its was three weeks since the even semester started and I was getting restless. I wanted to start off with the technical activities as early as possible. So, why postpone? I went to the management and got things approved and here I am today happily typing off after the events 🙂

27th was the day when we made all the announcements. Me with a couple of my friends went to all the classes in the CS and the IS departments and made announcements about the seminar. While were were expecting a very few to actually attend the seminar, we were shocked when there was a huge number of people who thronged in for registrations. Sadly, we had to limit the registrations to 100 because of space constraints.

The event was supposed to start at 9:00am today morning. There were a lot of students who were eager to enter the lab. To actually tell you the truth, the students were waiting to enter even before the scheduled start of the event. We had to send back about 25 of them, as they had not registered. We had absolutely no space to accommodate more students. The lab I can say, was filled to the maximum extent possible.


Lab filled to the limit

The first event was on Web 2.0, the latest trends in web technology and how to make use of them. Sattvik Chakravarthy, who conducted the event did a splendid job. After talking about the trends and how we are using Web 2.0 knowingly or unknowingly, he went on further to give a hands on demo. He made the audience write a small piece of code using javascript to animate a picture. There was one sentence in his presentation which caught my eye.”Lets not just use, lets contribute….”. What an apt saying!

Sattvik Chakravarty

Sattvik Chakravarthy giving his session


Next, we had a session on the Open Source Content Management System (CMS), Joomla!. Conducted by Nitin Rao, this session was aimed at introducing the use of a CMS in building a website. This session was purely hands on. We had installed servers on each of the machines. The students were made to install Joomla! on their own machines. Once they were done with the installation, they were able to access their website on the localhost. He taught them how to write articles, publish them, change themes, add breadcrumbs, add polls and many more things. By the end of the session, the students were able to create their own websites, write articles and also maintain it.

Nitin Rao

Nitin Rao giving his session

The final session, conducted by me was on Sun SPOTs. This session had all the ingredients to get the crowd, rooting for more. I started off the traditional way by talking about the history of Sun SPOTs using a slide show. Later, I didnt feel the necessity of slides as the device I was holding had everything I wanted to show in it. I showed the Bounce Demo and I could feel the excitement in the audience. I was running under a severe time constraint, but still had time to show magic tricks like through the head, ectoplasmic ball 😛 . I talked about the different features of the Sun SPOTs, Squawk JVM, Wireless Communication, etc. I showed the Bounce Demo- On Desktop to emphasise the communication between the basestation and the freerange sun spots. Next came the crowd favourite, Airtext Demo. I asked them to read the words which were shown when the Sun SPOTs were moved. There was synchronous chant of “This is a Sun SPOT”. Brilliant! On Popular demand, I changed the code in front of them to show the letters RNSIT, an abbreviation of our college.

ME :)

This is me 🙂 and the coveted Sun SPOTs

Previously, I had made use of the Temperature Sensor demo so as to transmit the current temperature OTA to the basestation and display it on the PC. I wanted to show this last thing and some how managed to squeez it in time. Finally, I realised there was also the slide show running. I skipped to the Q&A part. I was again surprised to see a lot of students actually asking a whole range of questions about the usability of Sun SPOTs, features, etc. I am sure that my session had appealed to them. I could make out a lot of enthusiastic people in the audience. Signed off by giving the links to sunspotworld, a couple of blogs and sunspotworld forums. Finally I gave out the link to the RNSIT OSUM Group. If you have not joined this yet, please do so.


Finally, I would like to thank my friends for helping me out over the course of these three days.

All three speakers

Nitin Rao, Sattvik Chakravarthy and Me.

More pictures over here.

So, there came an end to an hectic yet exciting day. I plan to conduct more seminars through the course of this semester, before I leave the college. Lets hope I will be able to do what I have planned to do.

– Posted at 06:47PM Feb 28, 2009 by Vittal P in Sun


very nice..

Posted by nitin on February 28, 2009 at 06:53 PM IST


It was a very good event. Very interesting crowd. Loved the session I gave. Hoping to make more such events happen before we leave. Congrats to You and Nitin for doing a fantastic job.

Posted by Sattvik on February 28, 2009 at 10:48 PM IST



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