Sunday, May 17, 2009


Just came back from the 27th convocation of the Department of Computer Sc., BU. I try to attend ceremonies like this. All these bright minds in even brighter red gowns remind me what persistence and optimism can achieve and kindle hope for the future. Maybe there is a tomorrow. Maybe the world will be a better place sometime.

Being a theory student meant I had to be supported as a teaching fellow for most of the semesters. As a result, over the last I_won't_disclose years I have seen two batches of students arrive and leave. I have seen most of them when they were sophomore. It is really a wonderful feeling to see these minds develop and grow and transform over the years, proudly and successfully. They deserve all the claps and kudos showered on them today but a part of me wants to feel proud too. When Bob, who gave the undergraduate speech, mentioned that computer science is all about solving puzzles, I remembered how many times I have mentioned this to my class. Glad someone at least got it right!

Being a smallish department has its advantages, the primary one in my opinion being the camaraderie that develops between the students and the acquaintance developed between the teachers (including us) and the students. Most of the students (including masters students) present today were my students for some course during their 4 years here. And a fair amount of them were in multiple 3 or 4 courses. Wow! I have an embarrassingly poor face memory but still I hung around and tried to meet as many of them as possible. Some of them even came and shook hands with me themselves; that is a nice feeling. Maybe I was not that bad a TF after all.

Computer science is not a hot field any more, not in this country and even not in India. People have realised, little late but still, that the return is not immediate and easy but that it is equally competitive and laborious as other fields. These 40 or so graduates of today will hopefully rise and shine in their career, whatever they might be doing, and spread the message that computer science is still useful, that it may not immediately shelter the homeless but a CS major will not be without home, that it can get you a decent challenging job and that it has a fair role to play in modern day technology, which is necessary whether you aim for world peace or conquest! Although, CS may not be quite helpful in fixing your Internet Explorer trouble.

Sigh... only if the future was equally rosy for PhDs - now that would require some serious brain washing of the industry.

I asked most of the students their future plans. One of the smartest kids is joining a PhD program, in Brown, in crypto ... I am very impressed. Good job, James. Andy took up a job with Infosys and will be training in India for sometime; he wanted to do something different. A brave decision but he has that something in him to go forward and accomplish. Several of the students have jobs in defence companies so they could not really tell me much except that whatever they are doing will not directly kill people. Good feeling.

A biG bIg BIg bIG BIG congratulations to Dr Kyle for graduating with the department research award, finding a wonderful teaching job and and and (yes, you got it) getting engaged! The perfect finish.

Also congratulations to all other graduates as well. This is the usual graduation month ... I saw graduation tent set up at MIT. Universities nowadays provide webcasts for people like us who want to but cannot attend commencement ceremonies. I plan to make full use of them. It is very inspiring to see milestones being reached and dreams getting fulfilled and of course get to see famous honored guests and hear great speeches.

Well... congratulations to BU CS class of 2009! Good luck on your journey. And remember ... quicksort is quick only on average.

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