If I go through my email inbox (minus spam), it’s a unique collection of requests reflecting enough emotions to make a typical Hindi movie – there’s drama, desperation, sorrow, excitement and unintended humour. Here's a reflection of the most common questions. For any genuine question, frequent or not, please contact me by email.
You work in Robotics, could you make me a robot that does ***?
I indeed work in robotics, however so far my expertise lies only in robot planning. I teach robotics to students and the art of decision making to the robots. Producing babies and teaching babies stuff are two different things, and so far I only do the latter. If you could give me a robot, I could teach it how to perform what you desire (maybe); I could design a robot in a way similar to a child drawing his/her favourite drawing and let you choose a company to manufacture; and I could suggest you fancy sensors and actuators to fulfil what you desire; but not gift you everything to you on your next birthday.
So you play with robots all day?
Yes and No. Making robots do intelligent things requires intensive time reading stuff (that dirty looking, equation filled papers with strange un-pronounceable Greek characters in abundance), spending time thinking like a mad man, spending time designing on the drawing board (if you don't know how to solve some sub-problem, just box that problem in the flowchart and assume thats done - benefits of top down approach), development, debugging, initial runs, simulations; and then finally executing, debugging and tuning on real robots. So, no. But we may try to impress people showing them robots and making it do things. So, yes. Next time we do that with you, try finding out whether the robot was doing some intelligent stuff, or we hard coded everything in advance. When our robots do not act intelligently even after putting in a lot of effort, we do curse them in the worst possible manner; but it makes no difference to them, absolutely no difference. A quest to quickly patch up a defect and get things going for the robot results in multiple new defects. Erroneous codes sometimes produce better results than error-free codes. It’s an art of what to look at, what not to look at, and knowing why not to look at what not to look at.
I do not maintain or provide codes to my articles. I have one of the worst coding etiquettes and my codes are anyways impossible to decipher. Some codes are however provided at this site, which do not necessarily map to any paper or its part. The codes are usually only for reading and preliminary understanding of topics, some may not work as well. They're just scribbling in the time I had nothing interesting to do. Neither do these represent any state-of-the-art research nor any sophisticated research. I'm told people attempt to derive or use these codes for research projects - poor they! Code extension, development and delivery is a service exclusively for the ones who have an access to my cheat sheet of research, but please feel free to ask questions on extended explanations of papers, codes put up, algorithms and pseudo-codes in the papers, and anything interesting in your life.
I have a problem in Robot Path Planning, can you explain?
The problem of robot path planning (or any such domain in which I may or may not have work on) is too big with numerous books on it (including 1 by me). I cannot give you those (or my) books - Yes, the publishers charge me from purchasing my own book as a hard copy or soft copy! In reply I can't brief you about every aspect (for free). But please actively put up specific questions, doubts from any of the published works, general questions, observations or comments from the domains. Many sections from my published works are in reality from such discussions, in person or my email - a win-win situation. If you witness one, cherish that as an indirect contribution of yours in the literature.
Could you explain me specifically 'this'?
It's usually a pleasure to discuss, with the quality, quantity and duration of the pleasure dependent upon what is 'this'. However, please note I do not provide coding services, designing services, proof reading services and am poorer than Google in code and library search. My expertise lies only in making critiques, comments or explaining something pre-existing or proposed, and I love to do that; and for the rest, I'm just an ignorant baby.
Application for Internship?
We do not have a regular internship programme at IIIT Allahabad and hence we can only take students who can fully fund themselves including the charges of stay and registration here as prescribed by the institute. I usually do not take interns. If you're too interested you could still send me your CV and it can be seen if something can be arranged with available amenities available at IIIT Allahabad. However please avoid last minute emails. I would normally be keen on people with good programming/algorithmic, design, mathematical and English skills rather than background knowledge only.
For non-IIITA students, our students give me enough headache and don't leave any scope for me to take any more.
For IIIT-A students, I look for super-humans who can survive the largest magnitude of onslaught in a hostile environment in front of an audience creating an embarrassment; are still willing to experiment with their otherwise stable academic merit, and can take all that with a smile. Besides, the obvious skill set of programming/algorithmic, design, mathematical and English skills is desirable. The circumstances needing these skills is a top level secret that can only be experienced once you're into the trap with no exit option.
I want to do a PhD from the UK, could you guide?
I woke up one fine morning (India usually called that time afternoon), got a clerical level job from my then supervisor, logged on to the web for that, and in the most uncommon website's most overlooked corner saw an advertisement of commonwealth scholarship - and the rest is history. So my ground research into the domain is lesser than my current students'. I am novice for this question. I am only aware of Commonwealth Scholarship and Felix Scholarships. The former publishes the advertisement in the MHRD website, while newspapers may publicize the same. Check out the web for timings. UK is relatively easy to get admissions, but the admission does not have any element of funding and needs to be secured separately.