Experiences,  StudentGiri,  Students

Precog : A Journey to Remember

Ahh, the precog journey is reaching a logical conclusion with this blog. The blog is going to be a thank you letter, a thank you letter for three beautiful years at Precog, working with PK and fellow precoggers, learning and growing from the wonderful experiences.

I will highlight the different projects and experiences at Precog and focus on how they shaped and taught me. Before I begin a piece of advice to anyone thinking about joining/knowing more about Precog culture and work, read these blogs !! (At least that’s what I did while deciding, all of these are experiences straight from the horse’s mouth and will give you excellent insights).

So I will talk a bit about the projects I did at Precog, trying to highlight what Precog’s ethos and culture are about and how it has shaped me.

Now both the lessons are succinctly captured in a song, ‘Try Everything’ in an animated movie – Zootopia – It’s a fun watch. (Sidenote – PK is a huge movie buff as well, think about the origin of the word Precog 🙂 )

No, I won’t give in till I reach the end (1)
And then I’ll start again
No, I won’t leave

I want to try everything
I want to try even though I could fail (2)

No, I won’t give in till I reach the end 

DON’T GIVE UP. Always get the work you do to a logical conclusion. This conclusion could be a blog saying that here is a list of 50 things we tried, none of which worked. In fact, entire journals and conferences have started to welcome so-called ‘negative’ results. 

So story time, what really drove this lesson home for me. I had just completed my 2nd-year summer, and we were involved in this intense election project. The project was my first foray into life at Precog, it was an eye-opening experience, especially to see the hours that PK put into the project. During the elections, we observed that many accounts were getting suspended, which piqued our curiosity, and we started investigating these accounts. This suspended account project (turned into paper) was a cathartic experience, a trial by fire. I have talked more about the experience here.

But the most significant takeaway was the persistence and willpower to just power through the challenges, and all of it was possible only due to PK’s and precogger’s support. 

I want to try everything, I want to try even though I could fail

The freedom to explore at Precog!!. PK as an advisor, is unique with the amount of freedom he provides the students. He treats you as a peer, understanding that you have your interests and ideas and gives you complete freedom to explore them. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. This freedom also means that you need to own your project.

So again, storytime, during the end phases of the suspended account’s project, we had been exploring other different exciting ideas, one of which was the pump and dump schemes in cryptocurrencies. Such a contrasting project to the earlier one highlights how Precog allows you to try everything, 

Our crypto market influence project did not turn out that well (which can happen with any research project and is something people should talk about and accept failures more willingly.) However, we pivoted the project to understand the NFT market and the impact of social media on asset prices. It culminated in a nice piece of work (more cited than my thesis work xD). The main takeaway here was just to explore cool stuff that genuinely excites and interests you.  

#Precog Pointers 

I will just put a random collection of quirks and traits that makes Precog simply an incredible community. 

 #PKGyaan – Byte-sized tidbits of gyaan to keep you grounded, inspire you and most importantly, make you realise what’s important in life. 

#Whatsup – Lab-wide sessions give you an incredible opportunity to know what others are up to. 

#HaveFun – Be it the projects you take, in-person (hopefully no more virtual xD) lunches and tea sessions, a bowling outing, dinner and ice cream. Precog is always about working hard and partying hard. 

#LearnShareGrow – Precog is just an incredible community. Everyone is just there for each other, be it late-night paper review sessions, title suggestions or deep dives into projects. Everyone helps one another and believes in the philosophy. The more you share, the more you grow and learn. 

#Dual Gyaan

#AdvisorAffinity – I believe being on the same wavelength as your advisor is paramount; at the end of the day, I always knew that PK heard me and was there in my corner.

#OutInFive – I feel dual degree programs are meant to be completed in five years. Out in Five needs to be the norm instead of the exception. Personally, my final thesis project was neither of the two projects I mentioned. In fact, I picked up my thesis project somewhere in the middle of 4-2 (4th year, 2nd semester). It shows that if you can start firming up on a topic/research direction by 3-2, you can easily manage academics, research, internships etc. and graduate by 5-1.

Thank you PK and Precog!

Yours Truly
Arnav Kapoor
Dual Degree IIITH (2017-22)
Heading to CMU for Masters in Computational Data Science.

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