When I decided to pursue higher studies, I knew I had to make a prolific research profile to get into top-notch graduate schools worldwide. I needed strong letters of recommendation from the best possible professors in my field to achieve this goal. I started searching for professors who could guide my research journey. That’s when I heard about PK from some of my seniors who had worked with him. They spoke highly of his expertise and mentorship style. Joining Precog, PK’s research lab, was a dream for me, and I had planned to work in the lab for two years as an honours student to gain valuable research experience. However, when I applied for a research assistant position in the winter of 2020, I was rejected. While the rejection was discouraging, it did not deter me from my goal of working in the lab. I reapplied to Precog the following year and got a chance to pursue independent study for a year. Reflecting on my journey in Precog, I realize I gained much more than just a strong letter of recommendation from PK. The experience has far exceeded my expectations from what I had imagined in December 2021.
Work and Fun @ Precog
During my time at Precog, I gained valuable research experience and developed essential skills. The lab’s collaborative culture and exposure to the latest industry trends allowed me to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in my field, giving me an edge in the highly competitive academic environment. This exposure helped us to identify emerging trends and areas of research that we could explore in our work, ensuring that our research remained relevant and valuable. Being a part of Precog allowed me to showcase my potential and gain recognition for my work. I was motivated to investigate how big data and the right kind of analysis can lead to critical insights and help people use technology more intuitively. Therefore, to work in the domain of Data Science and ML, I collaborated with the R&D team at Infosys. With Infosys, I worked on two threads. First, I developed a synthetic data generation tool that could work on single and multi-table structured data. The existing solutions failed to successfully maintain relationships (foreign-key to primary-key match between tables) and follow constraints for multi-table synthetic data generation. I resolved this by developing an architecture by integrating AutoML, Automatic Data Element Linking, and Generative Adversarial Networks. In the second thread, my team worked on developing an algorithm to identify the data of a particular user from various multi-table data sources for effective data disposal. I played a crucial role in proposing a graph-based traversing algorithm to solve this problem. We successfully created metadata from the traced data for effective visualization and disposal. This was my first collaborative research experience with the industry. This experience taught me how to cooperate and coordinate in a large working environment and provided an essential lesson on timeliness. On the technological front, these projects have helped me improve my coding skills, knowledge of deep learning frameworks, and competency as a researcher.
Work aside, at Precog, we believe that having fun and building strong relationships with our labmates is just as important as conducting groundbreaking research. That’s why we dedicate significant time to engaging in various enjoyable activities together. We frequently celebrate birthdays, catch up during lab meetups, and find ways to stay active and energetic. We organized a lab outing to strengthen our bonds and have some fun. We went out to enjoy bowling and a delicious buffet, further strengthening our connections and fostering a sense of community within our lab.
Bond with PK
PK has been an exceptional mentor and guide to students in Precog. Through his unwavering support and dedication, he has helped students develop their research skills and succeed in their academic and professional careers. One of PK’s most remarkable aspects of mentorship is his ability to foster a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive environment within the lab. He brings together diverse students with varying backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives and encourages them to work together to solve complex research problems. Under his guidance, students learn to collaborate effectively, communicate their ideas clearly, and appreciate the value of different perspectives. PK’s mentorship style is characterized by his willingness to invest time and effort in helping students improve their research skills. He provides detailed feedback on research work, offers guidance on approaching research problems, and shares his experiences and insights to help students overcome challenges. Academic work aside, I also shared a friendly bond with PK. I remember one of my very first talks with him was during the final round of interviews for selection in Precog. He asked me where I wanted to go for graduate studies. I replied, “Georgia Tech”. He replied, “Why not CMU?” Well, I didn’t believe I could achieve such a feat then. However, 1.5 years later, now I am proud to say that I will be pursuing the M.S. in Artificial Intelligence and Innovation program @ CMU. I can positively say it would not have been possible without PK or Precog!