My first 3 weeks at CQT

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since I came to CQT. I did not make much progress in these 3 weeks but hope to make good progress from now on since I now have more clarity over what I should do in these remaining weeks. One of the goals for my internship is to understand and present the paper ‘Rectangles are Nonnegative Juntas’ by Zuckerman et.al . Till now, I felt intimidated by the paper since I couldn’t really understand anything in the paper after reading some paragraphs in the paper. One way I can approach the paper is by going through every line and trying to understand the things I don’t understand. But, I feel this is too much pain. Therefore, I want to adapt the less efficient(?) but easier way by building up from the basics. First things first, I haven’t yet done any course on the Theory of Computation and I have a constant nagging at the back of my head that I can’t really talk or understand any complexity classes without a clear understanding of what it means to compute. Therefore, my plan for the following weeks is:

  1. This week’s goal is to finish the course on Automata theory on coursera: https://class.coursera.org/automata-003 . This should take around 6×4=24 hours.
  2. After finishing the automata theory course, I intend to read, understand and solve problems from Chapters 1, 2 and 12 from Arora-Barak’s book on Computational complexity. – By the end of next week. Chapter 1 & 2 should take around a day each. Keeping 3 days for Chapter 12 and Lectures 1,2 & 3 from http://www.tcs.tifr.res.in/~prahladh/teaching/2011-12/comm/
  3. After doing the above steps, I am sure I will have a little more confidence to tackle the paper head on. Then, I will skim the entire paper once from starting to end and try to gauge what other things I would be needing to understand the paper.

After passing through this mental ordeal of the 3 weeks without any progress, I have come to the definite conclusion that getting to a publish-worthy idea within these 2 months is close to impossible and that shouldn’t be my goal.

Singapore & CQT

Yesterday was my first day at Singapore and also my first at CQT. Singapore is a beautiful country. Coming from India, I was pleasantly surprised to see such well planned and clean roads. The cab driver from the airport informed us that the Rain Trees beside the roads leading out of the airport were brought from Africa as saplings several years ago. A word of caution to anyone travelling to Singapore from India: Do NOT take the postpaid SIM cards available at the Indian airports, the prepaid ones from Singtel in Singapore offer pretty good rates.

After putting our luggage at Clementi East Lodge, I and Pavan(he’s another intern at CQT from IIT Bombay , we came together from Hyderabad) went to CQT to meet Prof. Rahul Jain, our PI for the intern according to the VISA application letters. He was very warm in welcoming us to CQT and Singapore.

After getting our access cards to our office spaces in CQT and our ID’s for the NUS WiFi, we chatted with Prof. Jain on various topics. I intend to keep posting regularly on this blog regarding my work at CQT and hope that I would be able to contribute to some scientific progress by the end of this 2 month period( read as ‘try to get a paper published’).