I find this post to be really inspiring. 

Dear (insert name here),
I heard you enjoy a certain programming language named Python. Programming is a wonderful activity. I am a little jealous that you have access to computers at your age; when I grew up I didn't even know what a computer was! I was an electronics hobbyist though, and my big dream was to build my own electronic calculator from discrete components. I never did do that, but I did build several digital clocks, and it was amazing to build something that complex and see it work. I hope you dream big too -- programmers can make computers (and robots!) do amazing things, and this is a great time to become a programmer. Just imagine how much faster computers will be in five or ten years, and what you will be able to do with your skills then!
--Guido van Rossum (inventor of Python)

 

 

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It was one of those things which i saw first in facebook shared by  someone whose posts i find very amusing. The facebook post was regarding how a relatively lesser known university (Calicut University )  from India has managed to  reach the unique distinction of the 4th Most searched university in Google. I found the post very entertaining for its sarcastic take on how the unsure students would have gone through binge searching sessions to take their university to this status.   

My initial reaction was , "Whoa . That's cool. Nobody would have expected this"  

 

I was very interested in the subject that i did a bit of googling and tried to find out the source of this information. Apparently this comes from BBC , a name which can be trusted for online media content . The article Google reveals most searched for Universities  written by   Sean Coughlan  who is an award winning Education journalist. Surely there was no reason to doubt the credibility of the article.    This is the list that is published  in the article.   

 

 

Top 20 most searched universities by Google users worldwide, 2014

1. University of Phoenix

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. Open University

4. University of Calicut

5. University of California, Los Angeles

6. Anna University

7. Stanford University

8. London School of Economics

9. Columbia University

10. New York University

11. University of Mumbai

12. University College London

13. University of Oxford

14. Florida State University

15. Harvard University

16. University of Cambridge

17. Liberty University

18. University of Rajasthan

19. University of Michigan

20. Annamalai University

 After going through this list couple of times , i kept on wondering as to why the ivy leagues had less representation. A bit of skeptic in me started thinking on the lines of whether this information is indeed accurate. I tried in vain to find any google public release documents which supports the information mentioned in the website. I soon realized that the news is being copied by other online medias by changing the content but the list essentially remaining the same.   Since i couldn't find anything , i knew that there is one source available in public domain which could validate my doubts once and for all.

Enter Google trends  

Google trends, thanks to google is a website through which we could make analysis of  how frequently something has been searched upon through google's search engine. It is a hefty little tool for those who likes to analyse things and we can make some meaningful insights through it. Usage of Google Trends is pretty much self explanatory and i am pretty sure that even if you are trying it out for the first time you wouldn't be finding it much difficult.   And Google trends do give us the option making 'n' number of comparisons between  varying search topics in google.  For demonstration purpose , let me do a comparison between the search terms facebook,orkut and myspace for the year 2007   

Now you can draw out your own conclusions from it or take home some key pointers from it , but let's dive into the question of how we can check the accuracy of the information given in our context. So this is my strategy (It is not much of a strategy afterall) , i am going to make comparisons between search terms  of the below given sample points    

A - MIT    

B - Harvard  

C - Stanford 

D - University of Calicut    

This is the result i got from google trends which further deepened my  doubts on the authenticity of the information.

The above comparison is for the year 2014 alone. And to be honest doesn't this result makes sense ? It does, MIT is the clear victor with Harvard and Stanford neck to neck and University of Calicut is not even in the picture. ( I have also tried with the search term 'calicut university' and couldn't see much of difference there also')  

But i need to be absolutely sure. There are two ways of making comparisons in Google trends.

1 - Search Term
2 - Search topics

What we did was option 1 , by specifying the exact search 'term' and understanding how frequently these terms were searched for in Google and comparing them with other search terms. Now let's do option 2 which is way more cooler and more effective in making comparisons for a much larger set called search topic. For Example Google has algorithms to make search queries such as 'Tokyo' ,'Tokkyo' , 'Capital of Japan' etc fall into a single search topic that is 'Tokyo'. This seamless condensation of search queries into topics offers us a much better picture while doing analysis of searches.

 


With Search topics , Harvard is the victor with MIT closely following and Stanford slightly below. University of Calicut is not having a search volume close to these three.   Now go back into the table given earlier and see if you can correlate it with  the info received from google trends . I just can't , there is no way google trends is telling me that Harvard could be 15 in the same list where University of Calicut is #4. So this leaves with only with these two options  a) BBC got from some previleged information from google which they haven't disclosed with anyone else b) Google trends API is going bat shit crazy right now.   On a personal note , option a and b looks wrong to me because the proof seems to be there right in front of us from the orginal BBC article           

 

         

 

This image taken from the original article is a comparison between searches for Coursera and Cambridge university. And here is the same comparison that came from Google trends for the period from 2009 to present.  



Hope you saw the similarity which proves that the source for BBC also happens to be Google trends. But what i still doesn't get it is how they got the list totally wrong. Also if they were using Google trends, then it is not exactly a scenario of "Google revealing the most searched university". Guess media gets away with such misleading titles quite often these days. I guess the only person who can provide some clarity will be the writer. He is in twitter and i hope to bring this to his attention.

 

PS : The only reason i took the pain to write this post is my sincere wish at not seeing wrong information published tomorrow in plethora of print and online mediums. It is strange how poorly facts are checked before most content gets published.  

 

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To You Neha , August 31st, 2014

 

"What is your opinion on dowry ?" , she asked me while laying on the terrace with me looking at the starry night 

 

"Stupid Question Neha. C'mon don't spoil the night " , my eyes focussed on the luminous full moon at this time. 

 

She turned her head sideways so that she could see my face, My cold and dull response hasn't gone so well with her. 

 

"Okay Rahul, another Question then. Hopefully you will like this one"

 

"Shoot" 

 

"What is your opinion on Life after death ?"

 

I turned my head sideways, she looked gorgeous in moonlight. Tiny light from the farthest of heavens came down that one moment  

to make her face glow with a mystic beauty or so i thought, I put my  hand under her head and said in my sweetest tone

 

"You know the thing about Life after Death is ... 

 

It is crap.

 

Utter Nonsense!! When we die , we just vanish. 

 

It is a lie among all the other lies that surrounds us.

 

Unreal. 

 

You want to know what is real..

 

The comet we are waiting for, the one which appears once in 76 years.

 

That is real.

 

So stop this stupid talk of yours or else we might miss it "

 

I knew i had said something really bad to her, but i was too excited about the comet that i felt even Neha became a distraction.

 

She pushed my hands and got up quickly . She was starting to leave the terrace but not before saying this

 

"To hell with you and your stupid comet!!

 

You are the least romantic person in the whole world

 

I am off to bed. You can stay here  along with your comet.

 

Don't bother coming down."

 

Angry women always likes to have the final say in scheme of things. Knowing this , i kept quiet.

 

She would have looked at me once again , violently stroked her legs at the firm ground twice or thrice and moved her head both ways to show her dislike at the turn of events. I also imagined her going down the stairs calling me idiot , rascal and other names from her list of parliamentary swear words. This made me chuckle, thinking how much i know about her.

 

I cleared my mind soon and got back to observing the sky. It could be any minute from now.

 

It was 8th March of 1986 . 

 

After 5 minutes and 47 seconds , I saw Halley's comet passing through the skies in full glory. My eyes not even blinking following the comet and its beautiful tail with a pounding heart that can't contain its excitement anymore.

 

Moments before the comet disappeared from my horizon, I remembered the purpose of my night out

 

I made my wish!

 

 

I laughed for a while like a mad man and then tears rolled down my cheeks one by one.

 

 

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On April 1st of that year the most unexpected thing happened. My inlaws decided to visit our home after the cold war that existed ever since my marriage with Neha. It was not a marriage that they approved of and it took almost 2 years for them to finally cool off and approve me as their son in law. Neha was extremely happy that day and i could see it in her face. Obviously I was happy too, it was always a regret that she carried with her that she somehow wronged her parents by marrying me. She loved me ofcourse, enough to blindly say 'yes' to my marriage request without thinking of the chain of consequences that would follow. But she was  a homely child and needed that parental recognition for her to be truly happy. And now she is.

 

 

The April Fools day had more surprises in store for me . I was positive though since the first surprise was truly a pleasant one with the visit of my inlaws. Among the other routines, i kissed on Neha's forehead as usual and left for work . It was a beautiful summer day and just before reaching the street where i worked, i took a turn and in about 10 minutes time reached the super speciality hospital.

 

"So has the lab results finally come Doc ? . This one month waiting period has put a lot of stress on me. You can't imagine the kind of life i had gone through ever since my last diagnosis. It is okay if i know something is wrong with me but this anticipation , It really hurts doc . I know that you needed time to get the results and stuff. I know all that , but i am just saying ..things like this , one can't wait for ever . I am sorry, i am just too emotional and don't know what to say. "

 

"Rahul.."

 

"It is just that everything has finally turned allright. My wife's parents , they turned up today and all our issues due to marriage is now over. They have finally accepted me the 'orphan' as part of their family. Can you believe that ? It is a big thing for me and for my wife too. You have to see her face , she is really happy and I want her to be happy . I want to share all that happiness with her but i can't do this way. I just can't . I am sorry doctor , i am blabbering . Just tell me whatever it is."

 

 

"Rahul , the results confirm our preliminary diagnosis. You have.... "

 

"CANCER.." , I filled the blanks which doctor was finding a hard time to fill. 

 

"Sorry Rahul. I was hoping for a better result."

 

"It is okay Doc. The funny thing is I am turning 28 in another 3 days. So much  future ahead of me i had thought once , so much of youth left in me right ? ; All those dreams i had , they mean nothing anymore . How could such a thing happen to me Doc ? I mean I never drank , never smoked , excercised regularly and took good care of my health. How could god , if such a person ever exist do something like this to me ? especially now when everything else have turned alright ." 

 

I was about to cry like how i used to do when I felt lonely in my orphanage. But somehow i managed to stay strong.

 

"You Know Life has always been so difficult for me right from the beginning , yet somehow i had managed to put on a fight against all the odds and i finally thought i had everything in my grasp. Everything i ever wanted and then the world comes shattering down on me only to make me appear as  a fool, a fool for having hoped for a good life . I must be the biggest fool on this April Fools day , a fool who thought that he could be happy "

 

"Rahul . You must not lose hope ..." 

 

"One last question Doc . I don't want to waste your time . I am already a lost cause . How much more time do i have ?"

 

"It depends on various factors"

 

"A number doctor. I need a number . approximately "

 

" 7 to 8 Months .. It also ..."

 

" Thanks Doctor"

 

I rushed out from the hospital as fast as i could without giving a proper chance for doctor to complete. I went to the parking and found comfort in the confined space of my car where i cried like never before. It was the most honest moment of my life. I realized at that moment what means the most to me. I drove my car to home to see my wife and i hugged her that day like it was my last.

 

 

 

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My Husband died on December 24th of 1987.

 

It was Christmas eve . 

 

Everyone was celebrating on that day. Doctor's , nurses , office staff - They all greeted each other with their 'Happy Christams' and 'Merry Christmas' wishes while i succumbed into a level of pain which knew no limits.

 

I felt truly alone in that hospital on that chilly night. No words of consolation brought any relief to me. What everyone found surprising which i learned later was how i never cried. Not a single drop of tear came from my eye . What they didn't realize was that only living people cried , i was already dead by the time Rahul left me . Or so I thought.

 

 

I met Rahul the most unusal way.

 

It was during a chess competition. It was the 80's and i had got myself into a FIDE state level event. With some good luck going for me, i was able to reach the semi final where i was supposed to play against Rahul. Rahul was a higher rated player than me and I honestly didn't think i had a chance to move into the finals.

 

Rahul won the first match quite comprehensively. It was a best of three event and my confidence had hit rock bottom after the first match. But to everyone's surprise i won the 2nd and 3rd matches even after making few big errors . Rahul's rating dipped down to an all time low and i moved into the finals. I wasn't good enough to win the finals, but my  photo appeared in some newspapers and my dad and mom were really proud of my achievement. I didn't feel deserved to get all this attention though, i kept on thinking as to why that guy after playing such a brilliant first game lost his complete touch for the remaining two.

It remained a mystery for sometime until i got that letter.

 

 

A letter came to me almost a week after from Rahul.

 

It was addressed as 'to Neha, State Level FIDE Finalist'

 

The letter had just three words

 

" Be My Queen ."

 

I was angry at first for someone having the courage to send  such a letter . Then i smiled , a kind of smile whose meaning could be ony understood by another woman. 

 

I met Rahul on a coffee shop and i asked him what the meaning of all this was and why he played so poorly  from the 2nd game.

 

"I have seen you many times before Neha. I live in the orpahanage next to your block . I know so much about you already. For instance  I know at what time you catch your bus to college , I know when you return back from college . I know that you like color blue alot since almost all your dress have a shade of blue . I know that you like golgappa since you have it everyday from the street vendor . I have even had golgappas with you few times but you have never noticed. I know you love your dad by the way you talk to him while jogging and how you put your arms around his shoulder while returning, i know he loves you alot  from the way he follows you till college without you seeing but i have seen it. I know that you really don't like going to temple but your mom forces you to and you would do it because it makes her happy. You see Neha, i have started going to temple just so that i could see you on those fridays. I have loved you and your family so much even after staying so distant from all of you. "

 

 

 

"

So imagine what would go through the mind of Rahul , the so called 'orphan chess prodigee' .  Chess was the only thing that made an orphan like me special Neha . It means a great deal to me , but when i met you as my opponent - it was something which i never expected , I won the first match to prove my strength . I lost the 2 remaining matches to show that i am willing to go to any level of sacrifice for your friendship. Suddenly chess was not the most important thing in my life , i wanted to see you happy , i wanted to see you win which is why i made those errors. "

 

 

When i looked into Rahul's eyes that day i saw a sincere , earnest and innocent man whom you instantly know you could trust for life. We became good friends from that moment . We had many things in common and yet many things that were different. We agreed on many things fought on many other . At some point i felt that there is something more than a friendship and to my parent's huge disappointment i married Rahul and became his 'queen'.

 

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It was New Years day  of 1988 . It was the most tensed day of my life . I was driving back home after visiting a family friend when i received call from my wife. In a moment of panic she blurted out that our only daughter had tried to hang herself to death using a rope . She immediately took help from one of our male servants and took Neha to the nearest hospital. When i reached hospital my wife was sitting shell shocked and i sensed some really bad news.

 

To our greatest relief Neha survived that day, It was also on that day that i heard from the doctor that Neha was pregnant . I didn't know whether this was   good or bad news. But when i told about this to my wife , she smiled and told me that it is definitely good news. She believed that our daughter would need some strong reason to live and this child might give her that reason, to come back and live a normal life , to be a mother and to be our Neha again.

 

 

I was honestly surprised at how accurate my wife was. Neha soon started taking good care of herself and we were starting to get back our old Neha bit by bit. 

 

On September 29th of 1989 Neha gave birth to a baby boy. After a long period of sadness and grief , this baby became the reason for our small happiness. Me and my wife cuddled Neha who was holding that baby , it was in that moment i realized the true value of a family. We had gone through lot of pain and sadness , our life was filled with nothing but sorrow and darkness and here there was - the small child in Neha's hand , a hope for a new future .

 

It was me who suggested to name him Pradyot , since the child really was  a ray of light illuminating our lives from darkness. 

 

It was the beginning of what i would call reasonable happy days . I could still see in Neha a lot of sadness , i knew very well that she wouldn't fully be able to forget Rahul or she would entirely become happy . But I was sure of one thing , as long as her son existed , my daughter wouldn't think of doing anything foolish again. We never bugged Neha about another marriage because we knew how deeply she loved Rahul and we knew that any extra pressure from our side might lead to a disastrous result.

 

 

I wouldn't say that those were perfectly happy days. We were always worried that something would happen to Pradyot, the fear started when we heard about how diseases get transferred genetically. We lived in constant worry that something bad may happen to our grandson like what happened to his father. This thought scared us a lot through this period. 

 

It must be also said that we never took anything for granted. We really felt like evey new day with him was a gift from

the heavens. We laughed a little extra for his acts, we applauded a little more . We were determined not to make him feel like he is missing his father ,  i tried to be the best grandfather any kid can possibly have and all three of us tried our best to fill the vaccum which Rahul had left. 

 

 

Years went by quickly and we all felt that bad days are past us. But like always we are just actors playing out the roles of a script return by someone. Who are we to know what twists and turns lies ahead of us. ?

 

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I am an agnostic . It means i don't fully agree nor disagree to the question of whether there is someone called god. Through out my life there has been various experiences which made me embrace and question faith. I think i was a very religious person until my 15th birthday, i would owe it mostly to my grandmother and grandfather. In a short span of 15 years , i think they managed to make me visit almost all the temples one can visit in south India . I soon understood that it was more fear than anything else that made my family this relegious. They feared that something will happen to me just like my father and they believed that only gods had the power to alter future.

 

Like i mentioned before , the fist incident that made me question faith happened on my 15th birthday. My beloved grandmother who loved me so much died on that very day. She was trying to cross the road when a lorry came from nowhere and hit her. She had gone to a temple to do a special pooja for me and was returning back home. 

 

I cursed all the gods whom i worshiped that day and sweared never to bow down my head anymore to them. They took my father away before i was born and they now took my grandmother away from me when she had gone to temple only to pray for my good health and that too on my birthday. I never celebrated my birthday afterwards . The death of grandma worsened things for grandpa . 

He was never the same guy again, the tragedy was more than what he could bear. But surprisingly my mother endured through this , she was the person who held our family together through the tough times. 

 

We lost grandpa 7 years later. His health had declined through these 7 years and death was the eventual course of action that 

all of us knew was bound to happen. The day in which he died will be remembered by many Indians . It was the 2nd of April 2011 -the day Indian cricket team won the world cup. I used to feel like tragedy striked our family in a cold and ruthless manner, on days when everyone else gets to celebrate - we get to cry. At 1 am in a hospital room , i relized that my family had shrunked to just 2 members - me and my mother. I cried on the lap of my mother . Not a drop of tear came from her eyes through all of it.

 

 

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

It was April 2nd 2029 when i finally got the test results . The first person i informed the news was his mother . 

She was the most resillient women i have ever seen, a woman of incredible courage and strong will power . I took a day off from offie and went to meet her. She was running an orphanage in memory of her husband , it was her life's work . After Pradyot married me , she moved to the orphanage and has been busy on its working. 

 

She used to visit us on saturdays , spend a day with our two children and then leave on Sunday. When i told her about the test results she broke down for the first time. This repetition of tragedy over the course of time was simply unbearable for her. She held my hands tightly and said with moist eyes.

 

 

"It is not 1986 . I was a dumb girl who didn't know what to do to save my husband . 

 

You are a doctor Sandhya ,.... this is 2029 ..... You can save him 

 

You can save your husband. 

 

My grand children .....needs their father ..... i need my son .

 

You should do everything..... in your power to save him"

 

 

My marriage with Pradyot was strictly an arranged one. We didn't even knew each other properly . I was studying in HMS when the proposal came in through a family friend. He was also in Boston running his start up company at that time. It was after 1 year into our marriage that i realized that our marriage was not merely a coincident. It was a brilliant plan envisioned by Pradyot's mother to save her son if something goes wrong.

 

 

My research at HMS was on 'Possible cures for Cancer' , I was working with the leading experts on the topic at possibly the best  lab in the entire world dedicated to cancer research. It still remains a mystery to me how she managed to find me and how she executed the entire marriage thing. Perhaps the love of a mother for her child is the strongest force on earth , one that can even set in motion events that triggers miracles.

 

 

 

 

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//Wikipedia Entry//

 

 

List of Nobel Prize winners in medicine 

 

 

 

Year                       Awarded to                       Achievement

****                       ************                       *******************

2029               Harvard Medical School          For their breakthrough invention of the first ever

                       Cancer Research centre          cure for cancer 

 

 

 

 

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So Guess I am a lucky guy to be back again in this story line. I survived my scare with cancer when I was 39 . It was a miracle that brought me back to life , a miracle that made me a believer again of a force whom i believe has a greater plan for all of us.They say that my wife's work was instrumental in HMS finally coming up with the cure that saved millions of people's life. I wonder  sometimes  whether all the bad things that happened in our family was for leading upto this one invention . Then i realize that maybe i am getting a bit ahead of myself by thinking such things. Who really knows anything for certainity ?

 

 

 

There is one other thing which happened somewhat later (circa 2045) , a small event which many might think is trivial yet very relevant to the storyline of my family. It was a letter which my father had written to my mother dated 8th March 1986. I found it in a dusty little envelope while sorting things out in the basement. I don't know if my mother had seen this before . I hope she had seen this , since there is no way i could show this to her now. 

 

"To You Neha,

 

 

When i came downstairs you were fast asleep. I know that you are angry at me for what i said tonight. I am really sorry if i hurt you somehow. I know that i have been acting somewhat weirdly for about a month now. I promise you that things won't be the same going forward.

 

Do you know the old myth about comets ? They say that whatever wish we make it an honest heart while seeing a comet comes true. When i saw that Halley's comet today , I was thinking all about us. I wished with all my heart that we are together forever and no force ever seperates us. That was my wish dear . 

 

And i hope that this wish will come true.

 

Ever Yours,

 

Rahul "

 

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Year 2069 July 27th

 

 

 

News Presenter : After the break, we bring you the story of this Indian family of 9 members who have travelled half way across the world so that they can see "Halley's Comet" a bit more clearer and closer

 

 

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A 75 year old Pradyot looks up into the clear night sky at a little farmland at some distant corner of the world. With him is his wife , their children and grand children. There is a sense of anticipation in all their eyes . Within seconds a bright shiny thing appears in their horizon , they point their fingers up in the sky as the comet moves through the heavens . At this moment when the comet appears to be bidding goodbye to earth with a promise to return after 76 years ,  what will be going through this family's mind and what will be their wishes.

 

Do they believe in life after death ? Or do they believe in continuity of life here on earth.

 

Somethings we never know!!

 

                                                --Shubham--

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one topic which was daunting to me whenever i saw it in college. I had skipped everything that there was to do with algorithm analysis and time complexity. But i feel like i have got some understanding on what it is and through this post i want to check if i really have understood it afterall.

 

Let me keep this as concise as possible. We are always looking at better ways of doing things. Increase in speed of getting something done is what we try to achieve in all our day to day activities. If we have two algorithm options , we almost always tend to prefer the one which gets shit done with less number of operations . So time complexity, asymptotic notation call it whatever you may - they are metrics the only ones we can trust on to see how an algorithm performs with the size of input.

 

For example let us take the case of  linear search and binary search algorithms. Linear search algorithm has a time complexity of O(n) , which means if there are 10 elements in an array it would take 10 comparisons in the worst case to find the element. If there are 1000 elements it will take 1000 elements and so on. Now let us take the case of binary search, binary search has a time complexity of O(log n) which means that if there are 1000 elements it will only take log 1000 comparisons to find the element in worst case.

So by looking at the time complexity we come to the conclusion that a binary search is way better than linear search.

The link below from stackoverflow explains the concepts in a greater detail.

http://stackoverflow.com/a/487278

 

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