This article could only be written now and at no other stage of my life past or future would enable it. It’s my life as a student here at IIT madras. I’m now in my fifth semester of my M.S. (by research). Quite a lot had happened till now: I’ve done my exploration and settled on a research area, I’ve got one paper submitted for ICASSP conference from which I’m awaiting the letter of acceptance and I’ve got a vague idea of how the future could be planned out. The future has a lot of work in store for me: since I’ve Decided to proceed to do Ph.D. abroad, I’ve got a few tests like GRE, GRE subject Test: Mathematics, TOFEL to complete; I want another paper submitted as soon as possible; and finally, I need to get my Theses completed. Well, this is me in a crucial juncture, just chilling and writing this article.
What is it about this article I could write just now? Well, it’s my current perspective of things around me. Firstly, My Guide is an awesome and cool fellow; He had given me freedom to work on any area or domain I’d like. I later realized that freedom is a dangerous drink: It is intoxicating and the lack of any kind of outside pressure to study or work towards your M.S Degree is as tempting as it sounds. It Makes you search deeper on why you do what you do, question your very existence and your purpose. It makes you philosophical at the least. Well, whatever it did, I became quite not so impressed in what the world had to offer: Money, Power, the whole charade. Well, It gave me a view of being in the top of the world where all the rest were just monkeys fighting over what monkeys would find fascinating. Friends were great but since I knew there was nothing great I could do to impact their lives or they mine, I kept them at bay, far away but never letting anybody realize the distance. It made me lonely I suppose: At times I’d get blue, but I didn’t care. I found Japanese anime, quite a bit of American television series, and Hollywood’s best movies to be quite great and in a way motivating and philosophical. Family was great, but visiting them would simply throw my regular life haywire like a ripple in a calm pond. So, what was my regular life? It’s simple: sleep whenever I please, eat as seldom as I please, watch anime, TV Series and do all that without any distractions. My sleep timings were extreme, sleeping always after 2.00 AM; sometimes it gets as bad as 10 am but I’d have a regular 7-8 hours of sleep. I’ve never had breakfast for a long time, probably a total of 20 breakfasts in my two year stay. I do protect my stomach by eating some biscuits or something at regular intervals just not a proper meal. So, with all that on the table, I’d never smoke or drink, partly because I am a Christian and partly because I got enough problems in my life with me being sober. Well, where does my work fit in among all these other stuff? Well, I’m proceeding towards the completion of my master’s degree aren’t I? Yes, and that’s the good great part of my life. I love my work, I really do. But do I constantly engage myself in it? Absolutely not! Seldom do I work but since I think about it all the time and discuss with every passer trapped in my way, I guess I do end up doing the adequate amount of work I’m supposed to do.
Well, what is my work? the answer to that is this so called: “research”. My research history till now is quite fascinating according to me. Well, when I entered IIT, I hated mathematics but I loved its elegant products like the Transforms (Fourier, Laplace, and Z) and its applicability in solving various problems. I was a practical kid, with mind only for the applicability of stuff around me. I hated math because of the way people around me made me look at it before I reached IIT. Well, after coming here, Because of my interest in music and my past work in it, my guide gave me a few papers to read on music wherein I got familiarized with the mathematics of the Fourier and wavelet transform and the mathematics of it was fascinating. From here on, I proceeded to read anything that caught my fancy. I loved reading books rather than listening to classes partly because I hated all the boring syllabi and the grade oriented goals of Undergraduate Program also books are better at teaching you stuff at your own pleasure never dictating a deadline well, this complimented quite well with the freedom offered by my guide towards my work. Well, there’s one slight problem though, curiosity is possibly on of the main reasons I find my stuff interesting, but, the same curiosity makes me explore different domains never resting in one domain making it quite difficult for me to stay long enough in one domain to contribute something to it. Well, all these exploring made me learn the very basics of a few fields like: Signal Processing, Sparse Signal Processing, Estimation and Detection Theory, Linear Algebra, Optimization Theory and Probability and Statistics and a few other derivatives of the mentioned one. To people who think this is a bit much, No, It’s simple as can be and anyone can do it given 2 whole years to ponder on.
“As for everything else, so for mathematical theory: beauty can be perceived but not explained”_ Arthur Cayley (1821-1895)
Start of my Fourth Semester, My Guide asked me to work on a specific problem and asked me to use it to complete my thesis. Note: This was the first time my Guide asked specifically anything from me. And… I froze. While all I did till then was jumping around from one area to another in research, this constrained me to stay. Also, this problem he gave was quite outside my forte, It was linear algebra, when this problem started, I was quite not so great at it, I knew the basics but I was unappreciative of the problem’s beauty. This lack of luster lasted for 3 whole months during which human adaptation kicked in and I slowly began understanding the problem bit by bit the more I understood it the more it felt good. It’s just like a person the more time you spend with them and understand them, you kind of start to like them. It was either that or it was the Stockholm syndrome. Well, Anyways, if you were wondering if all my previous exploration gone to waste, I’d say no. You see, The Problem was like clay the more I worked on it and understood it, all my other fields helped me to put those missing pieces in the problem together as they either added beauty or stability to the problem thus the clay got converted to quite the beautiful pot. Actually, the beautiful pot is part of my future work, probably the next one or two month’s work.
I never considered myself as someone special. I knew if given the same stuff and the same experiences as me even one of you monkeys could be me. Well, I’m grateful to God that it all fell in place to make my life beautiful. And yes, I do believe in God, being a researcher and all, I still find what I learn fascinating enough to believe in God. There is a lot of I involved, Mostly because I know of myself the best and maybe your story is more fabulous than mine, Frankly, I don’t care. I live my life and I love it. Now, as to why did I write this article, Well, I just felt like it. To the reader, Well, this is the path one other human being is travelling. I know, your problems are different, hurdles vary, and there is not much I could say and there aren’t much philosophies you haven’t herd. Well, I’m chopping down my tree and I don’t know when it’d fall same goes for you, and if you feel like it, just do something like me: write an article or something.