Amit Thakur exploring ideas every single day

CSE 2020 Prelims Challenge

Hi! A very happy independence day to my fellow Indian citizens.

Today I would like to let you know about a personal challenge that I want to pursue for next 40 days. I know many would laugh at me but I just want to try it for fun and to see what is my knowledge gathering capacity in the trade which is different from my active profession.

So without further ado, I tell you here that I’m preparing for Indian Civil Services Examination 2020 Prelims in just next 40 days. Yes, that’s the very competitive CSE Prelims exam conducted by UPSC, Govt of India. This year, 2020, the prelims exam is scheduled on October 4th.

Since high school years around 2006 I have stayed away from humanities and arts studies. The CSE paper has a big part of its syllabus covered by general studies and current affairs topics. My knowledge level in those topics is abysmal. I have spent a greater amount of time learning maths, physics, and software engineering. So If I were to appear in the CSE paper today I would score awful for sure.

I’m a software engineer by profession and I’m quite happy with my current job. Do not expect me to leave my current job to pursue CSE preparation full time, like many candidates do. I’ll do it with whatever time I can manage along with my 10 hour job plus managing cooking and home (I stay alone BTW).

This year I applied for the exam in February month without any serious goal - it costs you just INR 100. Covid-19 also happened this year because of which prelims exam has been postponed from May to October. My current employment started few months ago so I was very busy in my current job learing stuff for current project till now… and I still am. So yes, it will be a big challenge where I would be competing against more than a million candidates, many of whom would have finished their preparation and would be revising their notes by this time to secure few hundred civil services positions.

I believe that pursuing big challenge helps me keep pushing my abilities furher and make me wiser. So here is my plan for this challenge - I would be posting my prelims test series performance every week from now. This journaling would also help me to focus and actively pursue this goal.

Cheers!

I have started learning AI

Yes, I have started learning AI, very slowly, and bit-by-bit.

I did a research project in computer-vision during my final year (2013) of college. It was primarily a combination of OCR and object recognition problem. I solved the object recognition part using heuristic approach but had no clue how to solve the former. I read some research paper on OCR and tried implementing them using OpenCV APIs I but didn’t have any clue what algorithms were used and how they were implemented.

At the time, deep-neural-network usage were documented on the web, and some of the today’s popular tools were not there then (TensorFlow) or were just evolving (scikit-learn).

I finished the OCR implementation using Google’s Tesseract. I had EE background and knew basic programming in C++ and worked on GUI using Qt but I didn’t know the better parts of linear algebra, statistics, and neural network to understand advanced ML.

Few months later I got a job offer from Infosys for a Systems Engineering role. I didn’t work on the computer vision projects or any kind of research projects for next 4 years. During these years I learnt enterprise/e-commerce/cloud software application development.

One weekend evening in early summers of this year, I was browsing through my college projects directory, and thought of going back and solving my OCR problem with my own implementation. The ML/AI ecosystem had evolved much in these years. I thought of catching up with the growing AI world. I immediately googled some good MOOC courses on AI. Udacity’s nanodegree on Foundations of Artificial Intelligence looked promising. I immediately signed-up to get the basic understanding of evolving system. I finished the nanodegree before deadline and graduated in June, 2018. It introduced me to Python language, data structure and algorithms, linear algebra, statistics, basics of data science, and basics of ML and AI.

I wanted to learn more. It thrills me to create something cool on my own. So I googled some high quality books, blogs, and open source projects available on AI/ML. This time I wanted to learn all of the nanodegree’s topics in-depth. So I made my mind to learn these slowly and bit-by-bit. I have started reading and doing hands-on exercises.

Let’s see how this journey goes.

Cheers!

Day 9972

Hi!

Today I wasn’t feeling well in the morning. Skipped the morning jogging and yet enjoyed wonderful view from my apartment’s balcony.

Morning Skyline

The weather in Bengaluru today looked clear with scattered clouds in the morning, The temerature is very pleasant around 25°C these days.

I cleaned the house today after 3 days, and cooked Okra and Chapathi for meal.

I started refining the idea of Electronic Lab Notebook, the hackathon project I took in an annual hackathon LEAP-2018.

That was it for today. Tomorrow going to learn some new stuff.

Cheers and have a great day!

Day 9971

Sunrise

Hi!

I started the day with early wake-up after a long time. The weather was clear and sunny.

Half my way through the morning jogging track, I saw flock of birds flying west to find their daily livelihood.

I have a long TODO list for this week. Let’s see how many of those I finish up on time. And yes, it’s been a very long time since I wrote the last post. I’ll try to manage my time better now.

Cheers and have a great day!

Migrating to Github pages

The migration of this blog to Github Pages was one of the pending items in my 2017’s to-do list.

The Github Pages does not match the level of customization of the legendary Wordpress, but helps a lot on focusing on writing the actual blog content than the time consuming website maintenance work.

I’m not a prolific blogger. So the older blog posts count is small enough to be moved manually.

The migration will be completed in a couple of days. All the older links will be redirected to newer ones.

Thanks!