My Technical Journey

The below is an attempt to describe my journey from being a software engineer to a "Computer Scientist" ... and now "Data Scientist" and more pertinently the Principle Investigator of Watson Knowledge Graph (click here for my official profile). Perhaps its an effort in that direction that I keep this introduction limited to encounters relevant to my technical education which continues.. perhaps faster than ever...till date.

Looking back, the first time I got really excited about science was in the 5th or 6th grade when my father used a garden pipe to demonstrate to me the experiment where a ping pong ball would dance seamlessly on a vertical jet of water, which led me to show off one of the most watched and popular experiment in that years' school exhibition.

Forward to high school ...the physics book on Resnick and Haliday was the first real fascinating masterpiece which introduced and explained the real 
fundamental principles of
physics. An engineering degree in electronics and communications seemed to be a natural step in the progression, and I moved to Nirma institute of Technology at Ahmedabad. Here was a typical fickle minded phase where I wanted to be an IIM graduate at times, and at others I dreamt of doing research in radio waves and stuff.. with a dream of visiting all the great Antennas and Radio wave labs which were displayed in the book Pulse (I guess by Millman.)

One thing I perhaps never thought was that I would go on to study computer science (which i thought was meant for those who wanted to be clerks..). There was always this feeling, that in computer science all you are trying to do is tame a manmade machine, which already has been designed to work in few deterministic ways. There is no vagaries, and no uncertainties which would be associated otherwise if you study something more natural like electrons, or molecules, or living cells for e.g. Ofcourse the electronics course had done enough to introduce me the the fundamentals of computers.. who can forget the circuits and assembly language from douglas hall...Now after many years of dabbling with programming, software engineering (and a few years of married life)... I am glad there is at least somethings in life that you can try to control with a deterministic outcome:)
A top notch GRE score backed by the best of recos could not compensate for the highly ambitious applications I made to the EE depts. of
universities like Caltech, Berkely (looking back, I should have settled with following the herd to USC :)) I somehow was bent that either I get into a top uni, or no MS in west. So I resorted to an Mtech from IIIT-Bangalore hoping I would pursue the embedded systems stream here...but then, the course was really namesake, and I got hooked to programming and to eclipse...soon moved to my first job at SAP Labs India. SAP, contrary to the way world perceives it, is one of the GREATEST Technology companies in the world of computer programming. And I did get a chance to learn a lot of fundamental stuff at this place, which prepared me for my next job at arguably the best place to work for in computer science, i:e: IBM Research. Here I started out  trying to solve a 'simple' problem, a problem simple enough to bother just about everyone every day, the business of "SERVICE". We are trying to figure out ways in which we can serve better, and also help people serve others better. 

During my first phase at IBM Research, I also realized my passion for bringing data to its heals, by building simple interfaces and systems which could allow any commoner to make sense out of otherwise untapped textual data, and analyze it in context of other information. I ended up building very light weight text analytics tooling for service professionals. That led me to Almaden Research Lab, where I joined the team doing the same stuff, but at a much larger scale. I joined the SIIP(Strategic IP Insight Platform) team, which started mining all the worlds patents, and then followed with all the worlds medical abstracts, and trying to make non-obvious connections between biological entities, and events, and thus help solve some of the hardest problems facing our clients (some of the top pharmas in the world). Thus began my second phase at IBM, where I started managing a team of system engineers and researchers, and also graduated into the role of a senior technical architect in the obvious new business for IBM called "Watson". Now I lead a team of researchers and developers, building one of the most advanced scalable knowledge graph technologies with applications in drug discovery, intelligence, cyber security to name a few.