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Precog: A Memoir of Growth and Discovery

Cheers to my fantastic experience, and best of luck finding your path!! The End

This beginning might have been weird but don’t fret, as it was the ending. Yes, you did read that right, this blog will be in the reverse chronological timeline, so you must wait till the end if you want to know who I am (unless you already haven’t scrolled till the end to see my name).

Where Am I Now?

When writing this, I am a recent graduate from IIIT Hyderabad, sitting in my room at home, staring at my laptop, and yes, I don’t have a 60-inch LED Monitor Setup with a custom keyboard. Just your typical everyday laptop! Such people do exist!!

If you read it, in a few months, I will be pursuing a Master’s In Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University, USA, and possibly having the time of my life or burning the midnight oil (but let’s leave it as a problem for future me to deal with).

In the far-reaching future, who knows where I am or if I am? I haven’t planned out my whole life, and this blog will undoubtedly outlive me. That is until the internet crashes and burns, but at least we know that will not happen. As for where I could be, I have a few places where I’d like to imagine myself, but who knows for sure? Until a few months back, I didn’t even know I would be going to CMU, but we would get to that, so let us not jump ahead (or back, in our case).

How Did I Get Here?

The last step was applying to the colleges I wanted to attend. “Can’t reach something without actually trying to grasp it.” So my last advice to you, fellow reader, is not to be afraid to try. You apply to places you want to get to, but destiny or the outcome is not something you can always control. Whatever the result, don’t let it get to your head and move on, constantly improving and working.

Some skeptics might say it is easy for someone like me to say this after getting admitted to CMU but don’t think I didn’t face rejections. Boyy, you haven’t seen how brutal company and college rejections are. No Sorry or reasons or anything, straight-up Reject. What matters most is the people you have with you to face them. Let’s get to more about these people in some time.


All’s well and good in applying, but you must have a good profile first. To summarize everything, without Precog and Prof. Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, this wouldn’t have been possible for me. I have had a memorable experience at Precog with three papers accepted and multiple collaborations.

Collaboration with UMBC and Prof. Manas Gaur

My collaboration with Manas (a Prof, but for me, he has become more of a friend) started way back in the December of 2021 when Manas was a Ph.D. student at AIISC under Prof. Amit Sheth (for those who don’t know, he is in the top 100 CS Professors in the world) and another Ph.D. Student Kaushik Roy. From Precog, Anmol Agarwal, a fellow batchmate, was also involved. We eventually had a paper accepted in NAACL’22 on mental health and depression, bringing the first stretch of our continuous efforts to a merry closure.

Soon Vamshi, another new Precog Joinee, also joined our team with the latest collaboration of Prof. Joseph Reagle and Manas. We started our work on Information Disguise. Sooner than later, we had another paper accepted at ECIR’23, thankfully just before my applications.

Reflecting, Manas has had a very significant impact on my career and technical skills, always presenting us with opportunities to grow and improve. Manas was constantly available for long, spontaneous discussions irrespective of the time. We could discuss anything and everything with him. Hence, thank you once if you do end up reading this blog.

Based on this, I would like to give the next piece of advice that all collaborators and professors are always open to discussing. You need to have the courage and ask and clarify with them whatever you want. There is no harm in that, and no one ever judges you for that.

Anmol, Vamshi, and I presenting our work at RnD Showcase

Collaboration with Prof. Kiran Garimella

Though Manas has profoundly impacted my journey here at Precog, the experience of my first project, collaboration, paper, and a fantastic team all go to the collaboration with Prof. Kiran Garimella. The group consisted of 2 batchmates – Pratyush, Anmol, and seniors Mallika and Ashwin. In this project, we collaborated with Digital Green, a major farmer development organization.

Our primary focus was analyzing and finding insights from DG’s data. As expected from a massive organization like DG, and due to the data collection from the ground up, they do from going to the farmers, their database was a gigantic dump with values and tables everywhere. I had always heard that you need to clean your data before working on analyzing it, but no one ever told me how much cleaning would be required and how you clean TBs of data rather than just a tiny pandas data frame of a few KBs or MBs at best.

However, this experience working with extensive industrial data was very enriching. Throughout the project, I learned how to apply the techniques we had gobbled up while learning and that only some things would be how you expected them to be. Hence life lesson número uno: “Life is a challenge, don’t shy away from it.” I would have dreamt countless times of leaving the project as we couldn’t get anything sometimes done due to data consistency issues; however, I powered on, resulting in 2 things. One, we got a paper accepted at ICTD’22. The 2nd most crucial thing is how to communicate and interact with everyone irrespective of their technical background. This skill helped me massively during my internship at Microsoft, so yes, Research and Industry are not as disjoint as one might think, and you can pick up some neat tricks in each to help in the other.

Culture and People

You got a good resume, promising projects, and good LoR’s but that isn’t what Precog is solely known for. You would be able to find it in almost every other big Lab in IIIT, but the major thing is its close-knit culture, our interactions with other members of the labs, and the continuous guidance they provide. My interactions with my seniors and Pillars (fancy name for Students who heavily contribute to the Lab) at Precog have been constructive. They helped me navigate my application process, career, and university choices. The Phrase “Pillars” may seem extravagant, but they are also your mentors and advisors, so make sure to respect them also.

Regular Lab meets, something which we like to call “WU” or What’s Up (you gotta admit it sounds cool), help keep everyone in the Lab up to date on all the projects, open’s us to reviews, suggestions, and critics, something which we all face somewhere down the line so might be better to rip the bandage slowly than crashing and burning later.

Friends formed at Precog are people you will never forget throughout your life, as their paths and directions are very similar to yours. They have gone through a similar process, ups, and downs, if not the exact, and would always be upfront and ready to help you. Remember the people I mentioned you could rely on; these are those with your other friends and family, so feel free to open up to them.

The whole gang back in 2022

Bonus: Precog has damn good lab dinners (photo flex). We also went Bowling, and no other lab can beat that.


We discussed my projects and life at Precog, but we still have mentioned the one thing or person who makes Precog – Precog and gives it its Precogness. That person is Prof. Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, or as everyone calls him, PK. PK is the blend of a typical college professor with a cool personality with him. Which else Professor would flex with his students?

Professor Cool showing off at the recent lab dinner xD

I haven’t had the misfortune of going up against him in Badminton or Tennis, but from what I have heard from my friends, there is no hope of defeating a Beast like him. He doesn’t get tired and is fitter than most of the college.

I will let you in on an inside joke about PK. PK travels a lot!! And when I say a lot, whatever you think, the actuality would be more. We used to think he would have acquired frequent flyer miles from that, maybe enough to send the whole Lab on a trip. But Alas, we were proven wrong in our recent lab dinner; no such miles exist :(.

All jokes aside, PK is the heart and soul of Precog. His philosophy is to depict that the life of a Professor is not all bad but can be rather fun, and I quote, “Which else person can have breakfast at Adobe, lunch at IBM, and dinner at Oracle all in the same day.” More recently, as you would have seen on his social handles, he spent the morning Tesla factory tour, an afternoon lunch at SalesForce & a 61st-floor view of San Francisco, and had an evening UC Berkeley tour. Having such a purpose of showing how fun your work is is something I would like in my future as well. For his students, he wants everyone to excel and show that research is both fun and informative and an experience worth living. He likes to flaunt his students’ research, which can be very motivating and inspiring for the student. Seeing your work on social media is a euphoric feeling. He is always open to discussions and one-on-ones if you ever feel lost on what to do next in life or even a project.

A note to current students or future joiners, don’t disappoint him. Work as you mean it. Honor his efforts, collaborations, dedication, and rapport. Don’t just disappear; stay in touch with him and keep him updated on everything. A happy advisor means a happy student and vice-versa.

How Did I Start?

So now you know how I got where I am, but everyone wonders how we should start. The answer’s pretty simple. Just do what you want to do.

I was very motivated by Machine Learning and started reading about it from the beginning. Competitive Programming is necessary, but I was not very passionate about it, so I devoted my time and effort to learning and reading about ML.

That’s just what it takes. Just be passionate about what you truly want to do and have the spirit to learn and grow continuously. If your interests align with mine or Precog’s, I recommend you check it out once. Even if you don’t have a clear direction of what to pursue, your time at Precog will give a more straightforward answer due to the varied projects.

Who Am I?

That sums up my journey at Precog, where I started and eventually landed. Recounting this was nostalgic, and I am happy you could take this journey with me. Hopefully, this helped you decide who you truly want to be and whether Precog would help you.

Salut, je m’appelle Shrey Gupta.

So Hi, My name is Shrey Gupta. As I said previously, I recently graduated from IIIT Hyderabad with a passion for ML and a profusion of joyous memories at Precog in my heart.

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