Sunday, February 12, 2012

Recruitment Drive for Mathematics / Statistics / Computer Science


A Young Researchers Meet will be held in Stanford during 26-27 May 2012; it appears to be following the apparently successful model of YIM Boston, which has already seen three editions.

From the website of YRM-Stanford:

A large number of new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), IITs and Central Universities have been started recently in India. All these institutions and existing academic institutions have a fairly large requirement of outstanding faculty members in mathematics and computer science. In view of this, it is proposed to organize a Young Researchers Meet at Stanford University, California, USA on May 26 and 27, 2012. The primary goal of this meeting is to inform junior faculty, post-docs and senior graduate students in the US about academic opportunities available in India and motivate them to return to India. A delegation from India representing a wide cross-section of institutes/universities will make presentations on various aspects of an academic career in India.

This meeting is funded by the Department of Science and Technology, India and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum.

All interested persons are requested to send a mail to yrm2012@math.stanford.edu including their CV and a one-page research statement (in PDF format) on or before March 15, 2012. If you need travel support to attend this meeting, please indicate this in your cover letter. Based on the applications received, a maximum of 40 participants in the areas of mathematics and computer science will be selected for participation. Selected participants would be given an opportunity to make brief 5-10 minute presentations on their research work so that a dialogue can be initiated between the participants and the academic institutions in India.

18 Comments:

  1. Digbijoy Nath said...

    I was wondering why/how Comp. Sci/Math have been singled out of all other equally important disciplines and areas....In fact, India is known for producing quality software/Comp. Sci experts. Tech giants like Yahoo and HP and Microsoft have comp. sci research labs in India where top-level intellects and PhD holders are employed for cutting-edge research. But to think of it, how much is India ahead in bio-technology, or electronics ? As Dr. CNR Rao put it many years back "India missed out the electronics revolution".... we are far from having a fabrication lab in India...no tech giant has a research lab in India that focuses on electronic devices....

  2. WebMiner said...

    Yahoo and Microsoft are starting to do well, but even they won't say they have reached there yet. Anyway, be glad they asked for Math/Stat/CS and not management, marketing and finance! Knowing MHRD and DST, they could have done much worse. The question is, what will be the enticement (other than money). There are good colleagues one can learn from in many of these places. But students are way too mediocre on average and support staff's work culture is absolutely deplorable.

  3. Piyush said...

    I am a theoretical CS graduate student at a US university and did my undergrad at one of the IIXs. I can say from my experience that at least the theoretical CS group at this IIX (including faculty and graduate/undergraduate students) was rather good, and graduate students were certainly not, as you put it, "way too mediocre on average". They frequently published in reputed venues, and the department is even known for a couple of really big breakthroughs in the field. By what I know of theoretical computer science work at at least one other IIX, the "students are way too mediocre on average" claim does not hold water there too.

  4. Piyush said...

    To add to my last comment, which excluded specialized Math and Theoretical CS places like TIFR and IMSc, I should mention that the "students are way too mediocre on average" claim becomes even more laughable if you include those in the analysis.

  5. WebMiner said...

    Piyush -- to calibrate your meter: the average CSE PhD student at { Rice, Purdue, UNC, VTech, UCSB, Johns Hopkins, UMBC, ... } is mediocre. The average CSE PhD student at UTAustin, UWash, UToronto, etc., are sometimes fun to work with. The average CSE PhD student at MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Berkeley, are usually beyond my intellectual plane. I have close knowledge of several IIXs and chat with associates in several of the above institutions, and if today all students that went to Rice, Purdue, UNC, VTech, UCSB, JHU, UMBC applied to IIXs we would be ecstatic. A couple of complexity theory breakthroughs will not change the bulk statistics.

    Also, I was strictly talking about IIXs. TIFR, IMSc and Harishchandra and a few other places are strictly out of bounds in this discussion.

  6. WebMiner said...

    Piyush -- I'd also like to add that within CS, because jobs are so difficult to get, the theory student pool in India is still quite good. No thanks to plentiful jobs with obscene salaries, finding systems students who can fog a mirror is getting impossible.

  7. Biswajit said...

    @ WebMiner:

    Your experiences seem to suggest that the best Indian minds are only second rate when compared with the best American minds.

    Is that genetic or does that have something to do with the Indian education system? Have there been any studies that confirm your opinion?

  8. Vikram said...

    Well, if we stick to purely professional considerations, then there are not too many reasons to move to India for a faculty position. The research ecosystem in the US is much better of course. I think this applies not only to India but to most other countries.

    But I think a mixture of personal and professional reasons would motivate folks to move back. I think that people would be more enthusiastic about new institutions where they can perhaps mould the culture. And one would think that as the sheer number of Indians doing college degrees increases, the pool of good PhD students willing to do PhDs at home would also grow. As for personal reasons, NPNI's recent post is a great example of what one can gain in India: http://academic-garden.blogspot.com/2011/12/home-sweet-home.html

  9. WebMiner said...

    Biswajit, that is a completely wrong interpretation. Genetically speaking the best Indian minds are comparable to the best American minds. But many brilliant Indian minds live outside India. Also, school teaching is high-pressure and low creativity, followed by much worse quality of UG education. Outside some fifty (carelessly counted) colleges, four years of Indian UG treatment will kill pretty much anyone's enthusiasm to think and question. Those same minds would do much better in life if they went to a so-so college anywhere from Japan to most of Europe to even parts of Latin America. We don't even need to bring in USA here. As regards studies, there are plenty, but start here: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?279778

  10. ajitjadhav said...

    @Web Miner:
    >The average CSE PhD student at MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Berkeley, are usually beyond my intellectual plane.

    Kindly indicate representative PhD theses for one _average_ student each from these four places, so that one could get a better idea of the kind of difference you have in mind and assert. (Please note, I said their _average_ PhD student. Eric Veach had an outstanding thesis, for example, but then, I am here looking for the "average" student of Guibas---the kind that manages to slip ahead of your intellectual plane, and given the kind of comments you make here at this blog.)

    >I have close knowledge of several IIXs and chat with associates in several of the above institutions, and if today all students that went to Rice, Purdue, UNC, VTech, UCSB, JHU, UMBC applied to IIXs we would be ecstatic.

    True enough, undoubtedly!

    >A couple of complexity theory breakthroughs will not change the bulk statistics.

    True: Here---or, there!

    >Also, I was strictly talking about IIXs. TIFR, IMSc and Harishchandra and a few other places are strictly out of bounds in this discussion.

    Kindly consider the request for representative PhD theses, repeated for these three institutions as well!

    --Ajit
    [E&OE]

  11. WebMiner said...

    Ajit, I read your comment both on and between the lines. It is perfectly possible for good students of famous profs in top schools to think beyond my intellectual plane and yet not get a mega-breakthrough result, especially in theoretical areas; no contradiction there. There is always a fuzzy boundary around such general comments, but a typical CS theory thesis from Berkeley is generally valued more than a typical CS theory thesis from, say NW Univ. There are of course exceptions, and stereotyping is always unfair to someone. But the theory pantheon at Berkeley will generally make sure a candidate says something fairly interesting before letting him/her pass qualifiers. So what do you think of the average Guibas student vs. the average Larry Davis student? Finally, I declined commenting about TIFR et al. purely because I don't know enough. I am not saying everyone there is great.

  12. WebMiner said...

    Folks, let's not get derailed. My question was, now that the ministry/DST/whoever wants to do something about all this, what is their planned incentive scheme? Same old or something refreshing?

  13. WebMiner said...

    Fair enough, but those reasons have always been there, even without the ministry getting involved. What can they do or are they doing that provides a momentum that was not there earlier?

  14. ajitjadhav said...

    @Web Miner:

    The point that I really wished to stress was (and is) that, IMO, it seems as though you are being overgenerous when it comes to evaluating the CS PhD students at the top/elite US schools. Since the incentives are to be given to such folks some of who might come from such schools, it is important to place them right. Personally, knowing their outputs, I don't think they are all that great. Most other points you make are granted---but not this one. For example, the idea that on average, Berkeley grads would be better than the NW Univ. student. The point isn't whether they are better. Point is, whether they are as remarkably better as you make them out to be.

    Honestly, in the CS field, I continue to get more impressed by working professionals than by any of the academics or PhDs. (This is not a populist thing to say. I honestly do.) This is only as a matter of a general rule, allowing for exceptions both ways, as always. Warnock had a PhD but Cutler didn't. So on and so forth. But, as a general rule, in CS, most impressive breakthroughs, to my mind, have come industrial folks, not by academics (including those who broke records at PhD qualifiers.)

    Now that we are at qualifiers, we come to reading between and _after_ the lines: I wonder why not a single Berkeley idiot can either affirm or deny my research claims. Why more than one Berkley PhD graduate has officially stated that he cannot understand my papers, my work---even when in my experience, most any BE graduate can, and do! This is not derailing the main discussion. The point here is relevant: IIX will be ecstatic^ecstatic to hire someone graduated by Berkeley, and simultaneously won't even bother looking at _my_ application---even if the posts would be, in part, with my taxpayer's money.

    I don't care if you wish to hold Berkeley graduates in high esteem (or MIT ones, or etc.) That's not the point. The point is: the height to which you elevate them. It's time men like I understood the reason why Berkeley graduates (or MIT ones) are being elevated to such great heights when the evidence in favor of this position is not at all so easy in forthcoming. Is it something like those arguments for the supposedldy moral, practical, intellectual, etc superiority of the JEE Pass BTech IITians over all other Indians (and Americans, etc.)? The same argument, but now in favor of Berkeley and MIT, when it comes to hiring by my taxpayer's money? Is that the same argument? And if not, I would like to have evidence---hard evidence. I would like to know.

    [E&OE]

  15. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    @WebMiner: There is no incentive; not enough enlightened people in government to understand the role of incentives.
    This is a session mainly for information, networking and advertisement. Candidates get to make presentations before a larger group of institutions, so in a way it is a more efficient way of screening. See http://www.stanford.edu/~khare/yrm2012/
    At an earlier such session there wasn't any recruitment either (because of some rules which prevent offers from being made abroad).

  16. GT Brown said...

    May be you should ask previous commenter and "Berkeley idiot" Piyush to affirm your towering intellect.

    To jog your memory:

    http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~piyushsr/docs/cv.pdf

  17. WebMiner said...

    Well, they do understand money. When I joined an IIX my "startup fund" was 50kINR. Today most IIXs will offer between 7 and 10 lakhs. But it's a pity the powers that be cannot figure out some of the real incentives that can motivate good people to return. I have collected quite a list but there isn't enough space in this margin to write it down ;-) Besides, it's not like anyone is listening. They'd rather sell cheep tablets.

  18. ajitjadhav said...

    @GT Brown:

    If you would arrange for that guy at that bastion of idiots, viz., Berkeley (or for that matter, similar institutions like MIT, Stanford, or GATech or... you get the idea), to both go through my published papers and officially state that he understands the contents, and then also show _some_ evidence (to me and to others) that he actually does, then, no separate affirmation whatsoever of whatever intellect that I do possess, would at all be necessary. Honestly!

    And, if you can't arrange for that, then just stop talking for others and shut up, OK? (Obviously so, because you yourself have no talking point. That's why.)

    And, oh, BTW, no, I didn't know about Piyush Srivastava. But, yes, I did go through his CV. ...

    @GT Brown, I will make an exception to what I just asked you above here, publicly, viz., to shut your mouth up. The exception is the following: Do drop me a line (or cross my path at any public forum or blog) once you hear that Piyush has cracked the P-vs-NP problem. I would love to know about the strategy he adopted---whether it was, in essential terms, very different from an outline for the resolution of that problem that I do have in my mind, an outline which I ordinarily wouldn't mind discussing with him---though not with you, for, the scope of exception is already over. Get at least this part right. (LOL!)

    To others: I do mean what I said above. Seriously. The really tricky part isn't that one can have an outline for an actual resolution of that problem. The really tricky point is that one comes to know, in deriving or formulating that kind of an outline/solution strategy, that this P-vs-NP is the kind of a problem about which today's mathematicians would probably never come to an agreement---not in one's lifetime/for decades. There are certain mathematical as well as epistemological reasons for that. (And, let me also state this publicly: I am confident that in a one:one talk in person, I could intelligibly tell someone like Mr. Piyush Srivastava, or Dr. Vinay Deolalikar, what I think that fulcrum point is. And no, I haven't seen it mentioned or isolated with the necessary clarity, in any literature or discussion on this problem, thus far. Including Dr. Scott Aaronson's, or similar others'.)

    (Also, someone please do me a favor and drop me a line if this idiot advocate of idiotic institutions---read: places of institutionalized irrational philosophies, including their actively pursued snobbish and/or ostracization policies, etc.---comes back and says something further w.r.t. something I said. To avoid volume alerts, I don't subscribe to update feeds.)

    Ajit
    [E&OE]