In the current information age, driven by the Internet and other so-called “reliable” sources of media, misinformation spreads like wildfire. Manual fact-checking and traditional technologies cannot be scaled to deal with this menace. Data needs to be interpreted more objectively and this can be achieved using disciplines of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning such as Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing. In India alone, fake information induced mob lynching has claimed 23 lives in the past few months. AI can be trained to identify fake news and to spot manipulated or doctored images and videos, thus making it a potent tool to combat dissemination of false news. The applications of AI stretch far beyond this and the fact that it has the potential to solve problems on a global scale gravitates my interests in this domain. Therefore, I would like to pursue a Master’s in Computer Science specializing in AI at TUK/Saarland. I started my journey in computer science when I took it up as my major during my undergraduate studies at Manipal Institute of Technology.
Courses such as Design and Analysis of Algorithms helped improve my analytical reasoning and my interest in the same resulted in me excelling and receiving an A+ grade in the course practicals. In my second year, I was one of the 10 students selected from a pool of over 150 to become a part of FOSSEE (Free and Open Source Software in Education) Manipal, an extension of FOSSEE at IIT Bombay where I also interned the following summer. During this internship, I worked as a Python Developer on Sandhi, an Open Source alternative to Labview in order to improve its graphical interface using libraries such as PyQt,Tkinter and its threading functionality. This internship sparked my interest in open source projects and I subsequently came up with numerous open source contributions throughout my college thereby learning Python scraping (selenium, beautiful soap) along the way. My improving proficiency in Python led to my selection in the Google Summer of Code – a long-running prestigious program funded by Google to encourage students in crafting open source software. I worked for the Python Software Foundation along with the Italian Mars Society (IMS) to develop an Interactive Heads Up Display (HUD) that showcased critical data in a simulation of Martian environments. The semi transparent interface was built on Oculus Rift using Python Blender API and could be controlled through a Leap Motion Controller.
This project gave me an opportunity to work with various computer paradigms and I was able to complete it in the stipulated time frame of 3 month. It was a time of great personal pride as I had managed to stand out in a program with a highly selective 15 % acceptance rate. During my final semester, I continued to work with the IMS to develop an image recognition model to predict whether a particular image was an obstruction on the Martian environment or not. I implemented a CNN (Convolutional Neural Networks) and used optimization techniques such as batch normalization and dropout. SGD (Stochastic gradient descent) was the optimization algorithm and L2 pixelwise norm the error function. The Model achieved a 62% accuracy. I also tried to use a GAN(generative adversarial network) to make a similar prediction by using a generator and a discriminator which go head to head trying to beat each other (nash equilibrium). However, the accuracy was lower as compared to CNN Model. I also took the Machine Learning course in parallel, where I learned about Supervised Learning Methods such as SVM and Multi Layer Perceptron. After graduating, I accepted a Software Developer role at the Hospitality Business Unit in Oracle India where I primarily worked on Cloud Engineering. My main project involved integrating Oracle Opera Cloud Service with an enhanced Secure Shared Domain so as to enable a Single Sign On security layer and maintain user sessions data while securely exposing Oracle API’s to the outside world (Booking. com, Amadeus). My team, comprising developers from Naples, Frankfurt and Hyderabad worked together to come up with a top-quality product thereby exposing me to a dynamic, collaborative and fluid work environment. Being a keen and inquisitive student, I always wanted to explore different learning avenues outside college mandated curriculum.
As a result of my interest in public policy, my teammates and I developed Sansad, an Android mobile application targeted to track the performance of Indian MP’s and raise awareness amongst our peers. The application was one of the top 8 apps at the Angel Hack Manipal 2016 and is open sourced on GitHub. With an urge to share my expertise in computer linguistics, I took up the position of Teaching Assistant in the course of Formal Language and Automata Theory. Educating the society as a founding member at Teach Code for Good, a social venture to teach underprivileged school children the basics of computer programming and Mathematics, was a humbling experience. Over the course of the past two years, our team has contributed over 800 hours of quality education to over 75 students across schools in Manipal and Mumbai. Having acquired a solid foundation in the field of computer science through a rigorous undergraduate program, topped by work experience in a multibillion-dollar IT company, I am of the sincere belief that I would like to pursue a PhD and establish my career as a researcher either in the academia or in the research labs.
For this reason, I would like to delve deeper and further my studies in my area of interest by pursuing a Master’s degree with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and the program offered at (TUK/Saraland) is perfectly tailored to my needs. The CS department at TUK has a well-structured curriculum along with ties to renowned research institutes such as DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) which would be a perfect environment for me to deepen my understanding of various (AI) techniques. Getting mentored by professors such as Dr Syed Saqib Bukhari and Dr. Damian Borth, whose work in ANP Sentiment Analysis is widely renowned, will surely help enhance my technical skill set. The MS program in Computer Science offered by the TUK will undoubtedly provide me with the right knowledge and impetus which in the long run will be a step towards a Ph. D to solve many pressing problems impacting our society.