When this Professor was a student

The 40 year reunion of my class (Annamalai University, 1966-1971) is to be held shortly in Chennai. I discovered something dramatic -- a bunch of fotos made at that time. I have uploaded it all on Picasa. .

Take a look. You will like it. You may even recognise some faces.

And, if you want a closer look, or want to download the pictures, here is the URL::



How to buy a Linux friendly laptop

Recently, I bought a DELL-- Vostro1014 laptop. It was not easy to locate a Linux friendly laptop. I got the right clues and pointers from my young friends and students.

I have not found any major stumbling blocks with my laptop, till now. But I discovered some cheap and filthy tricks which DELL, and almost all major vendors play. So watch out for my next posting about these dirty tricks. When will our Indian vendors learn some basic ethics and honesty ?

I also found a neat writeup on how to buy a Linux friendly laptop. Take a look at ::
http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/linux-laptop.html .

Good luck,



Eureka -- a small discovery

I found a solution to a minor but irritating problem. I have friends all over the world (lucky me), many of them speak French. Sending mail to them in French involved keying in diacritical marks (accent marks). I finally found out one easy way to do this in Firefox : Zombie keys.

The Zombie keys website is ::


I tried it, and it works. Here is proof:

"Le café français est très bon a cause de son goût. A Noël tout le monde
boit du café noir."



An Indian student does it .......

Today's Google will show you a doodle created by a student from India. Well done Akshay. We are proud of you.



Public key cryptography

This is a request for comments ::

I have uploaded a report concerning public key cryptography.

The report is available at ::


Request you all, to send your comments and criticisms.

Thank you,



Goldmine again !

I stumbled upon one more goldmine today. I found a site which gives away a huge number of e-books on discrete maths. I found some excellent titles ther. No registration, no silly questions asked, no strings, just go there and download.

Here is the URL:


Enjoy !



And the loser is .....

About two months ago (2010-08-20), I posted an entry called "And the winner is ...".

On that day, I had had 262 visitors who were Linux users, and 131 visitors who were Win XP users (just 50% of Linux users).

Today, I notice that I have had 280 Linux users, and just 121 Win XP users. The number of Linux users has gone up. Win Xp users are fading out.

The writing on the wall is clear and loud.

You can make your own conclusions !


Computer history

Visit this museum of omputer history ::


Spend your time in a worthwhile fashion.



Command line goldmine

Linux/Unix command lin fanatics will enjoy this goldmine ::


You will find lots and lots of tips and tricks here.

Enjoy !



Have fun with math and logic....

Young people: Dorothy, Jean, Virginia, Bill, Jim, and Tom became
engaged to one another (3 marriages to be). Who got engaged to whom?

- Tom who is older than Jim, is Dorothy's brother.
- Virginia is the oldest girl.
- The total age of each couple is the same, although no two people are
the same age.
- Jim and Jean together are as old as Bill and Dorothy.

Name the three pairs of engaged couples.

Please help me!
Thanks a lot.

Need help ? Feel like cheating ? Take a look at ::


I now have an entry in the Electronic World Directory of Mathematicians (EWDM) maintained by the International mathematical Union.

Visit ::


and search for "partha"


Best practices for journals

The International Mathematical Union Committee on Electronic
Information and Communication (CEIC) has a new (and useful) document. While the
core audience for this "IMU Current Best Practices for Journals" is
primarily editors-in-chief and boards of journals, we hope a wide
spectrum of stakeholders in the mathematical literature will find it
useful. Whether you are a beginning graduate student, an early career
scholar, a senior mathematician, or someone active in the publishing
or library communities, the document should be of interest to you.

International Mathematical Union Current Best Practices for Journals,
endorsed by IMU General Assembly 16 August 2010 is at:


Take a look.


Intl. Math. Union (IMU) Newsletter

IMU recently conducted the ICM2010 Conference in Hyderabad. Unfortunately, teachers like me, do not have the money to pay for the registration expenses. But there is some hope for us. We can keep ourselves informed, by subscribing to the FREE (gratis) newsletter of IMU:: IMU-Net.

There are two ways of subscribing to IMU-Net:

1. Click on http://www.mathunion.org/IMU-Net with a Web browser and go
to the "Subscribe" button to subscribe to IMU-Net online.

2. Send an e-mail to imu-net-request@mathunion.org with the Subject-line:
Subject: subscribe

In both cases you will get an e-mail to confirm your subscription so
that misuse will be minimized. IMU will not use the list of IMU-Net
addresses for any purpose other than sending IMU-Net, and will not
make it available to others.

Previous issues can be seen at:

The IMU General Assembly, at its
meeting in Bangalore, prior to the ICM, decided that Seoul, the
capital of the Republic of Korea, will host the ICM in 2014. This
congress will take place from August 13 to 21, 2014.



Learning from Prof. Don Knuth

Many of us are not fortunate to study at Stanford Univ. Many of us have only heard about Donald Knuth, but have not heard him. If you are one of these, like me, here is a golden opportunity to stop dreaming. Visit the "Stanford Center for Professional Development", and listen and see Don. Knuth. No, you dont have to travel, you just have to click on the link below, and scroll down to the bottom of the page you see. Choose the group of lectures you want to watch :::


Vive le web !


"This was an experimental project where we'd have three or four cameras in a basement studio and we would film classes of about an hour," says Knuth. "We got a bunch of our brightest students and gave them extremely difficult problems. You could literally see the 'Aha' taking place. People can watch the problem-solving process as it occurred."


Not so "stupid maths tricks"

Take a look::



Leslie Lamport's writings

I came across a site which collects and summarises the writings of an amazing person -- Leslie Lamport. This site also gives links to the actual papers, so you can download them too. Take a look at ::



PS Sad thing is, Lamport works for Microsoft ;-(

PPS: You can also get to know Lamport, from his home page at::



If you want to learn FOSS....

If you want to learn about FOSS, join Microsoft. Micosoft
sponsors OSIDAYS2010, a FOSS event, at Chennai. OSIDAYS2010 is
touted as Asia's largest Open Source Conference. Reminds me of
our opportunist Indian politicians who cross the floor, just to
be with the winning party. So, let it be with Microsoft too.
After all, businessmen need see no scruples, as long as they can
exploit the gullible, and make money.

FOSS lovers however, please take care. Stay away from impostors,
and exploiters.



Teachers' Day !

In India, we celebrate today as "Teachers' day". The teachers would call it "Lip Service Day", considering the endless amount of harassment and humiliation, teachers are subjected to every day. Why has no one ever thought of setting up some agency to protect and defend and support the teacher ?


More maths prizes at ICM2010

In an earlier post I had mentioned about some great prizes for maths, announced in the ICM2010 conference. I have now discovered two more awards. Strangely, the ICM2010 website posted this information in an obscure location, separately. Of course, the Indian Press was blissfully ignorant of all this, since they were busy covering the achievements of our politicians.

O. May Prize for the History of Mathematics: Prof. Radha Charan Gupta is the first Indian to be awarded the Kenneth O. May Prize for the History of Mathematics.

The Prize is named after the mathematician and historian Kenneth
O. May founder of the International Commission for the History
of Mathematics and its journal Historia Mathematica. The prize,
instituted in 1989, consists of a bronze medal and is given once
in four years in appreciation of a mathematician's scholarly work
in the history of mathematics.

Leelavati Award : Simon Lehna Singh, the well-known
physicist-turned British author, journalist and TV producer, who
specializes in popular writing on mathematical and scientific
topics, has been chosen for the Leelavati Award that has been
instituted for outstanding contributions to public outreach in
mathematics by an individual. Dr. Simon Singh is the author of
two best-selling books:: Fermat's last theorem, The code book.



Is Hyderabad a part of India ? (Is Anand an Indian ?)

Although the Govt. of India delayed and denied you a doctorate, we Indians confer a doctorate on you Sir. You will henceforth be known as Dr. Vishwanathan Anand, to all Indians, We are proud of you Sir.

This event gives a ridiculous end to the greatest show on mathematics held in India. After all, the world needs not just mathematicians, we also need
buffoons as well. Our Govt. has succeeded in bringing comic relief to an otherwise serious and sober event. This is a novel way to make ICM2010 a memorable event (sic). Thank GOD, the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India, did not wake up, and ask "is Hyderabad a part of India ?"

Congrats to all the organisers and the UOH, and of course Dr. Vishwanathan Anand.


Shame on you

Shame on you Govt. of India

Vishwanathan Anand, the great chess master from India, a
world-renowned Indian, who brought fame and respect to India,
several times, was denied his doctorat honoris causa, because the
Govt. of India could not decide if he was Indian ! Never mind
that he holds an Indian passport, never mind that he represents
India in all international chess events, never mind that the Vice
Chancellor (aka President) of a University recommends his name,
never mind that the game he promotes so well was born in India
(unlike cricket). It took more than a year, and frantic efforts
of many respectable academicians, to establish that he is indeed
an Indian. All the dilly-dallying, ignorance, indifference and
irresponsible beahviour gets brushed off, stating that there was
"some" bureaucratic delay. We live in an age of instant
communication, mobile phones, Internet, FAX et al. Our Government
still runs on bullock carts, steered by mentally-retarded blind men.

Chess is a game which puzzles and overwhelms even the best of
mathematicians and logicians. In fact, Mr. Anand played an
exhibition match against 40 renowened mathematicians. All of
them, save one (who entered into a draw), lost to Mr. Anand.

The best comment I have seen was posted on the TOI website ::

Even the Indian HRD ministry can't believe that one of its citizen can be world number 1 in Chess. This is the reason they doubted his citizenship. Way to go!

Shame on you Govt. of India, shame on you Mister Minister. Would
you have dilly-dallied like this, if Anand was a politician ? For
every Anand who has been affected by bureaucratic delay, there
are hundreds of unknown Indians who are suffering and waiting.
When will you wake up from your slumber ?


Happy Birthday

25 Aug. 2010

Happy Birthday Linux,

Time to rejoice. Time to celebrate.

I salute the spirit of freedom and worldwide amity which you have
created. I salute technological and ethical superiority. I
salute the end of mediocrity and unethical methods.



Why you should not marry a maths Prof.

Take a look ::


before it is too late.


Pathetic Press

I am apalled at the pathetic coverage given by the Press to such a great event like ICM2010. The Press could muster only a less-than-lukewarm and half-hearted coverage to this historic event, held in my city. I am ashamed to see the kind of coverage given to trivial and ridiculous events and people, by the same Press.

When will we grow up ?


Maths awards

One of the biggest events in the International Congress of mathematicians 2010, now on at Hyderabad, india, is the announcement of the world's topmost awards in mathematics. We will get to know the people who made amazing contributions to mathematics.

The awards are listed at ::

This year's award winners are listed at ::

You can see the names, affiliations and a brief bio sketch of the awardees. You can also get to know the citation of the award.

Take look.

Try harder. Maybe you will find your name in the next list.



And the winner is .....

I was looking at the stats for my website visitors. Over a period of one month, I got 262 visitors who were Linux users. I had 131 WinXP users (the nearest runner up), just 50 % of Linux score.

Who says MS-Windows is a popular OS ?



Mathematical writing

"Mathematical Writing" by Donald E. Knuth, Tracy Larrabee, and Paul M. Roberts

This is a report based on a course given at Stanford University in 1987.

I stumbled on a pdf version of this classic by D E Knuth. Gives you many rules of clean and clear mathematical writing. It borrows many ideas from the classic book of style by Struk and White. This is a must-read for all those who (like me) use maths for making a living. Wish my maths teachers had read this book before teaching me maths.



Mathematics made difficult ..... and fun

Mathematics made difficult
[by] Carl E. Linderholm. (207 pages | 1972 | ISBN: 0529045524 | DJVU/PDF )

This is a remarkable book with a remarkably innovative title. It is usual for books to claim that they make a given subject simple, or uncomplicated (whereas, in fact, they complicate the subject beyond any hope). This book starts with an unusual claim. It may or may not have made maths difficult, but it certainly makes maths real fun to explore and discover. Each problem, and the discussion that follows, is a bundle of very hilarious and often subtle humour. The author however, manages to retain the rigour and precision of maths.

Thankfully, this book is available for download from the w-w-web. There are actually many sources from where you can download.

Download the book, read it, enjoy the wisdom, and become a better maths teacher.



One more Indian does it !

Same old story. Just a different person. Prof E C G Sudarshan, a world famous physicist, originally from Kerala, India, now in the USofA (where else ?), wins a major award -- the Dirac Medal, for his contributions to theoretical physics. He shares this honour with another physicist (Nicola Cabibo).

Sir, congrats. We are proud of you.


Disaster recovery

Genius is not about how you avoid disasters, it is about how you recover from them. I came to understand this saying, only after I found a way out of the recent crisis about "the Professor's website" at webs.com. I found a rather clever way to work around the gagging of this website.

You can now visit "the Professor's website at ::

Reminds me of a nightmarish crisis a few weeks ago when Google decided to block my google account. I felt devstated, but I managed to recover.

These things happen when we look for free services.




What is my IP ? And what is an IP ?

Found yet another interesting and useful site. this site tells you your IP, and gives a whole lot of info related to IP and traffic in the Internet. Try the site::

and follow the various links.


The Prof' site is still down...bloccked..shot dead

But there is a work around. Try::


Links may not work, if they point to profpartha.webs.com/somefile.htm

Sorry for this nuisance. Hope the hosts solve the problem soon.




http://www.profpartha.webs.com/ is down -- why ?

Not just me, everyone from India is facing this problem. The web host says that the ISP (BSNL ?) or someone enroute is blocking all access from India. Why ? How can we remedy this ?

Read the full report at ::


http://www.profpartha.webs.com/ is down

My website at http://www.profpartha.webs.com/
seems to be down for the past few days. Please bear with me till it comes back online.


Recognising a rare breed.....

It is a surprising fact of life that there are very few women mathematicians. In a search I did some years ago (pre- W-w-web days), I had to spend a lot of effort and ended up locating just two of them. Now, I presume, it would be easier to locate women who can compare or excel men in mathematics. Here is an opportunity to meet some of them ::

You will of course have to come to Hyderabad, my city, if you want to meet them. You can be my guest.



My last post was about the recent achievement by an Indian mathematician to solve the P=NP? riddle. I did a Google search which threw up 30 results. Of these almost a dozen were from Germany (or in German), a few in Russian, and a few were newspaper reports. Of course, there was none from any mathematical research institute from India. This explains why Mr. Deolalikar lives in USA.

Mr. Vinay Deolalikar, if you are reading this blog, please be convinced that there are some Indians (although very few), living in India, who recognise and appreciate your efforts. Congrats to you Sir. We salute you.


An Indian in America ... does it again

A mathematician of Indian origin (Vinay Deolalikar), settled, as expected in the USofA, has done something extraordinary. The P=NP ? conundrum has vexed mathematicians ever since it was introiduced. It was introduced in 1971 by Stephen Cook in his paper "The complexity of theorem proving procedures", and is considered by many to be the most important problem in the field of mathematics. The problem definition/statement itself is not easy to grasp. And now, a young Indian, breaks this mystery and comes with the answer (a NO).

I did a Google search "P=NP Deolalikar" and got 30 results. You can read about this achievement at::


The paper still needs to be published in a major refereed journal and then be “generally accepted” by the mathematical community within two years of publication for Deolalikar to collect his Clay prize.

But experts have agreed, after preliminary readings, that his paper is an effort worthy of study.

Stephen Cook, who has written the official description of the P=NP problem for the Clay Institute, has called it “a relatively serious claim to have solved P vs NP”.

There is also a wiki page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P_versus_NP_problem whih explains the P=NP problem.

Take a look.


PS:: The "International Congress of Mathematicians 2010", the world's biggest maths conference will be held in Hyderabad next week. See :: http://www.icm2010.org.in/



More Latex

I have uploaded one more LaTeX tutorial/demo document, to my "downloadables" site ::


In this site, you get a lot of downloadable material.

Take a look, and get in touch,



Language problems.....

i found this interesting site concerning language related problems, particularly problems encountered when switching over between laguages. This site is apparently the idea of a group of very highly qualified and competent guys who work for :: Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

It has examples of some hilarious and not so hilarious translations and malapropisms.

The site can be found at ::

Take a look,



Method of invariants

I read an excellent article on the "method of invariants", a less known but powerful tool for mathematical problem solving. The article, by Rajaram Bhat, appeared in the July 2010 issue of RESONANCE. This journal, RESONANCE, is another remarkable journal, and is published in India, by the Indian Academy of Sciences. You can browse this journal and back issues from their website ::



The randomness of randomness

The randomness of randomness

GOD does not play dice .... Albert Einstein.

It all started with a rather innocent looking question on the Internet. Here is how it ran: Given a number (only one), we can answer certain questions about it e.g. is it a prime ? is it an even number ? etc. Now, given a number (only one) can we say if it is a random number ? Why not ?

I posted the above question on the net, and got some replies, all of which gave rise to more questions.

Some of the responders were statisticians in the traditional sense. And predictably, they took examples of their pet random process: tossing a coin, or casting a die. Yes, given no other information, such experiments may be considered to give random outcomes (will it be a head ? will be a tail ? will the die yield an even number ? will the next child be a boy ? ...). But, there is a catch somewhere deep within this premise. A physicist friend of mine argued that there could be no such thing as a random number generated by such devices (die, coin). After all, the outcome of a toss is bound by strict laws of physics. It is a different thing that we cannot measure exactly the various parameters influencing the outcome e.g. the force exerted by the thumb when tossing a coin, the velocity of air, temperature gradients, ballisttics etc. etc. All of these are important, to determine the exact trajectory of the coin, and hence the exact outcome of this experiment. If we could measure (and control) all these, there will be no such thing as a random toss. We can put forth such arguments for all such so-called random phenomena when they involve physical devices and objects.

We will stop tossing coins in the air, or throwing dice on the table, and look for some non-physical phenomenon, for generating random numbers. Let us look at the last digit of the first n (assume n=20 for this case) prime numbers [1]. Here is what we get:
2 3 5 7 1 3 7 9 3 9 1 7 1 3 7 3 9 1 7 1
Looks like a perfect chain of random numbers (perhaps generated
by a ten-faced die). Wrong again -- we can predict exactly the
21st digit which follows the last one above: 3 (the 21st prime
is 73) . Look at this from another viewpoint. Suppose we decide
to write these random numbers in a binary notation. And now, we
look at the last digit only (in this case we must call it a bit).
Here is what we will get:
0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ....... ad infinitum.
Nothing could be more predictable than this series !

Now, let us look at the first n (n=20) primes themselves ( The first 1000 primes :: http://www.utm.edu/research/primes ):
2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19 23 29 31 37 41 43 47 53 59 61 67 71.... ??

If we know the magic potion which was used for generating the above numbers, then we can predict exactly the number which must follow (the 21st prime number in the series). If we ignore for a moment the monotonically increasing magnitudes, and if we hide the common phenomenon behind these numbers (the fact that they are all primes), we probably have a good candidate for random numbers. Suddenly, the same 21st number becomes random and unpredictable !

The conclusion is simple, there is no such thing as a true random number ! It is just whether we are or we are not able to formalise the underlying generating phenomenon that makes all the difference. Some people prefer to use a more explicit term: non-deterministic phenomenon , to refer to such processes.

Let us go back and look at the question which started all this. The answer is a big NO, because: .... we let the reader work out the arguments. (They rightly say so ...By just looking at the tracks, you can't say which way the train went.)

PS :: If you wish to comment on this, please send me a direct mail : drpartha AT gmail DOT com

* * * *


ACM Honours, for a lady genius

Quoted from IITD LUG mailing list ::


Madam Radia Perlman will be honored for contributions to Computer
Networking as she wins ACM SIGCOMM Award for Pioneering Advances in
Internet Communication.

Radia Perlman

She worked mostly on the spanning tree protocols, convergence and
stability properties of link state routing. Her book
'Interconnections' has been helpful for many generations of budding
Internetworking professionals.



How to comment on my blogs .....

It is always a pleasure to notice the number of people who care to read my blogs, and also leave comments. Unfortunately, I am not able to decide on accepting or rejecting your comments, unless I know who you are. The notice for moderation I get from blogspot, does not give me your mail ID, so I cant actually check back with you.

Please remember to send me a separate mail with your comments and your mail ID too. Also identify yourself, tell me something about yourself, wher you are located, and what do you do in real life when you are not blogging. You see, I give all these details and much more in my websites which you can access from my blog pages.

Since I would also like to send a personal thanks message, so I must know your mail ID.

Many thanks, and keep the comments flowing (along with your details).


drpartha AT gmail DOT com

koha in Kerala

The Government of Kerala, a tiny well-developed state lying in the south-west part of India, has recently made a decision in principle to make Koha as its official software for computerization of libraries under Government control. It is going ahead with further steps to implement the project by The Directorate of Technical Education in association with the Community Development Centre, Government Polytechnic, Kalamassery.

Details are here :: http://kohaindia.org/news_details.php?newsID=6

(Qouted from the koha-india website mentioned above)

Kerala has always been a progressive state, and has been promoting FOSS, in various ways.


koha -- library management FOSS

The heart of any good institution is its library. Many institutions take pride in making the library their showcase. Many institutions, like the one I was in till recently, have a shabby and outright repulsive hole which they call their library. If you belong to an institution which has a library and is willing to make it a place worth visiting, you will need a good library management system. There is help from the FOSS community :: koha

Get details about koha from here :: http://koha.org/

In India there is a koha community. Get details here :: http://kohaindia.org/


The LFS book...free

If you really want to try, you can download and read a whole book
on Linux from Scratch, written by Beekman, the author of LFS,
from here ::


The lfs book is 322 pages long. The pdf file is 940973
bytes. In fact, I would recommend that book to teachers (like me)
who teach OS

Ask me for a copy , if you are not able to download from the
above site. Of course students from Wargal, please stay away. this book is much beyond your level.

Best of luck, and keep trying,


One more student project....

This is for the adventurous, and above average student (or a group of such students). It is certainly not for the kind of students I have seen recently at Wargal (Hyderabad). You can build your on OS from the basics. Learn how to fit in all the pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle. Have fun. Become a geek, and an OS guru. "Linux from scratch" is for people who fit the above profile.

Get details here ::;


Or ask me if you need details.


PS: Students I have seen recently at Wargal (Hyderabad), please stay away.


Astrology, myth, or reality ?

Just received the book -- Astrology -- believe it or not ? (S Balchandra Rao, Pub. : Navakarnataka Publishers). The author, a reputed mathematician, examines astrology in an impartial and rational sense. His study is rigorous, based on clear mathematical concepts, and demonstrates how mathematical concepts are distorted, to form a pseudo science called astrology. People confuse the fuzzy pseudo-science of astrology with the precise science of astronomy (a branch of mathematics), and intersperse their arguments using names of great sages like Varahmihira or Parshara or Jaimini. By juxtaposing these names with their own terminology, they create a certain euphoria which has still not been proven conlusively. This book is just the kind one has to read, to know the true worth (or otherwise) of astrology.

It is a pity I have no way to contact the author, to congratulate him and thank him.

I thank my friend Natarajan, who could procure this book for me.


PS : I located this book, based on a review I read in RESONANCE (a brilliant journal produced by the Indian Academy of Science)

Learning management systems

UNSECO promotes FOSS (for learning management systems). Here is a list of FOSS resources, as seen at the UNESCO site ::


Compare learning management systems (LMS)::


To try out some LMSes and several other PHP/MySQL-based
content management systems
without having to install them first see:


All the above references for learning management systems, and more, available at ::


This is for the attention of all my students and

Have fun,



Does no one read my blogs ?

I was a bit disappointed and angry at the s****s before whom i was casting my pearls through my blogs. I discovered that there was a breed of pigs, shameless plagiarists, who read my blogs, only to copy it and publish it elsewhere without my knowledge. Like all brain dead criminals, they left too many trails. I can now give them what they deserve -- a kick at their hinds.


PS: Dear plagiarist : Why dont you copy this blog post and publish it also, in your blog at
pullareddyinstituteoftechnology.blogspot.com ?

Open access journal for CSE

I have come across a source for open access journals related to
Computer Science. This site covers journals related to a wide
range of focus areas in Comuter Science::


Should be useful to my students, and my teacher-collegues (and also to plagiarists who will shamelessly copy the material).



Linusability + 2

Now IIT-Delhi (my alma mater) has created a special wiki page for "Linux improvement project" (they did not like the "linus" in the "linusability" name).

Take a look ::

Linux usability project


This is just the beginning. There is still a lot to be done.


Linusability + 1

The linusability project I launched recently, has caught the fancy of many people. There is a huge amount of discussion in the Linux Gazette forum called TAG. The IIT Delhi (my alma mater) Linux User Group has proposed to start a special wiki page for this topic.

I also stumbled on a few interesting sites. The most interesting one (for me) happens to be the one on ISO Standard 9241 related to usability. Google for it, and take a look.

There is a lot of work to do. I am happy.




Linux usability -- an introspection (Code name :: linusability)

In spite of all claims and evidence regarding the superiority of
Linux, one aspect of Linux remains to be its major weakness --
usability. This may be the reason for its slow acceptance by the
not-so-geeky user community. I am launching a serious study into
various aspects of the usability aspects of Linux, so as to list
out the problems and hopefully help some people offer solutions.

I need help. Please, if you have any ideas on this subject, or if
you know any sources where I can get directions, or if there is
something I should (or should not) do, let me know directly, by
email. I will compile all my findings, and post them back in this
forum. Let us make Linux more enjoyable by more people.

Many thanks,

partha AT gmail DOT com


Open source projects......

Here is a neatly categorised list of open source projects:

Should be of great value for students and for my teacher-colleagues who may be looking for good projects,



Where to cast your pearls ....

Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette (http://LinuxGazette.NET) says this about Prof. Partha's web pages :::

QUOTE You know, I always get a kick out of looking at your page - it's got so much cool, neat stuff on it. Thanks for adding the bits about LG, too! UNQUOTE

Thank you Ben. Only a scholar can recognise the worth of another scholar.

I pity all my colleagues and students who can see nothing in my websites. After all, a certain kind of animal cannot appreciate the worth of pearls, so we don't cast our pearls before them.



Discovered .... one more goldmine

I stumbled on this goldmine, while loitering on the w-w-web ::


This site lists a whole lot of free, and legal, textbooks on computer science.

May my colleagues and my students benefit from this discovery of mine.




The teacher who makes a difference

The teacher who makes a difference

is like

The spark that ignites a flame

The seed that makes a forest

The drop that makes an ocean

The dream that makes a man !

(Partha --- June 2010)


A gangster speaks again

This time, it is a small trick, a "two cent tip", in the Linux Gazette of June 2010. You can see the trick at ::



PS:: Partha is a member of "The answer gang", and so he prides in calling himself a gangster !


Linux newbies

Are you a novice/newbie to Linux ? Do you find it tough to take the bold step of getting married to Linux ? You are not alone. Read this ::


The bright side is, there is always help. Just join any of the Linux Users Group close to you. Or you can ask well-intentioned gurus (like me). You will be glad you did not give up.


Summer projects for students

Google's summer of code is an excellent way for students to get into real serious programming projects. Here is a list of similar contests/programs:


There are, in fact some more places where students can take up good internship projects. I would be hapy to share this information, if you ask me. Just send a mail, giving details about yourself and your studies, and your interests.



Please visit India, Mr. Clinton


I saw in the papers today, that you are organising a raffle for raising funds to settle the debts of Mrs. Clinton. I wish I could help you, but I am too far away to join such a fund raising event. Wish you all the best.

But, Sir, I have a better suggestion. Please come to India. Our politicians and government bureaucrats will teach you how you can get away from all this trouble. In India, our politicians will never have to borrow money for elections, the money comes just like that. Even if they borrow money, they will never have to return the money. They make sure that there is enough money in stock for several generations. Just come to India, we know how to create wealth. No raffles, no fund raising events. Americans can learn a few things from our Indian politicians and bureaucrats.


PS Please also see my blog "The stink in the system"

The stink in the system

A few months ago, it was the Chief at our "All India Council of Technical Education" (AICTE) who was arrested for taking bribes. AICTE governs and regulates all engineering/technical/managemant colleges in India.

Now, it is the Chief of the "Medical Council of India" (MCI) who goes to jail for bribery. MCI controls medical education in India.

We should be proud of such agencies and organisations.


PS : Please see my blog on "Please come to India, Mr. Clinton"


THE WORLD AS I SEE IT by Albert Einstein

I just read a lovely article -- "THE WORLD AS I SEE IT",
by Albert Einstein. It shows how great minds think. This article was found in the most unexpected of places -- the web site of IITD Linux Users Group.

You can get a copy of this article from me, or from the IITD-LUG website.



My lucky day...lucky find

I found the most impressive and most well organised Linux Users Group (LUG), today. I am happy I stumbled on to the LUG at IIT Delhi. Here is the URL ::


You get many interesting articles, tutorials and news. You can also join their mailing-list where you can interact with young Linux gurus.

I am proud to announce that I am an alumnus of IITD. I have discovered an interesting portion of my alma mater today. Today is my luck day !



Born again....

Google restored my drpartha AT gmail DOT com account ! Please use this mail ID for contacting me.

I now know how it feels to die and come back to life.



Dig for gold

I located one more amazing gold mine for info on mathematics:


All those who love maths, or want to learn maths, should visit this site and dig out the gold which is hidden here.



How to design programs

To all my students and colleagues....

Here is a book, worth reading...

"How to design programs", Matthias Felleisen, Robert Bruce Findler, Matthew Flatt, Shriram Krishnamurthi , Pub.: MIT Press

The book is now available on line...at....


Uses PLT Scheme as the programming environment.



Death of a giant ..... Robin Milner

I have just now come to learn that Prof. Robin Milner is no more. He died of a heart-attack, in Cambridge, on 20 Mar. 2010 (just a few days ago). He was born in Jan. 1934. His contributions to computer science are enormous -- we list the three/four biggest ones :: LCF (Logic of Computable Functions), ML (Meta Language), CCS (Calculus of communicating systems), PI Calculus. His well deserved decorations include FRS (1998), Fellow ACM (1994) and the ACM Turing Award (1991). He spent his life at Cambridge Univ. and Univ. of Edinburgh. What is amazing is that he did all this, without ever having earned a Ph D !

May his soul rest in peace. May his life continue to inspire me and all my students.

There goes a Caesar, when will we see another ?


Doomed to obscurity

"Doomed to obscurity" is a webcomic that gives the geek culture just what it deserves!
Published every odd-numbered calendar day.
by "Penguin" Pete Trbovich, 2009.

Here is the URL::


Open Source fanatics can now laugh/smile at their own pranks.



So, you want to do a Ph D ?

There is a lighter side to the tough experience of doing a PhD. Take a look at
, before you take the plunge.



Begging for books

One of the challenges of teaching in India, is the lack of basic essential material for teaching :: books and journals. We do have bookshops, but they stock only run-of-the-mill books. Books which sell out fast. If you ask for a book which is even slightly higher than the average reader's intellect, you will have to face disappointment. It is not just money, it is just a lack of appreciation for anything above average. So what do I do ? I beg. I beg shamelessly. And I have friends all over the world who understand, and buy me the books I need so badly.

I have received today an exceptionally beautiful book on Lambda calculus, donated by a very close friend (I call him NVS, my children call him "karate master"). Thank you NVS.

If you are reading this blog, from any country outside India, and you wish to help an Indian teacher, just send me a signal. The books you send will beused, for teaching young indians, so that one day India will also reach a stage where a teacher does not have to beg.



Is innovation a bad thing ?

The following concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the University of Copenhagen:

Q : "Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer."

One student replied:

A : "You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."

This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed immediately. The student appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide the case. The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer, which showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic principles of physics.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running out, to which the student replied that he had several extremely relevant answers, but couldn't make up his mind which to use. On being advised to hurry up the student replied as follows:

"Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out from the formula H=0.5g x t squared. But bad luck on the barometer." "Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and thereafter it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic to work out the height of the skyscraper." "But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T = 2 pi sq. root (l / g)." "Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up." "If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the height of the building." "But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise independence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say to him 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this skyscraper'."

[The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. Credits -- found on th Internet, author unknown to Partha].


More Linux

My next contribution (just 2 cents worth) is now available at :::


Linux gazette March 20101, Issue #172.

Not enough to win a Nobel Prize, but useful, all the same.

Take a look.

And let me know what you think.



My next experience

Starting a new experience, in one more engineering college affiliated to our dear JNTU. Let us see what comes up here.


Please, Mister Minister of Education

Teachers, Professors etc. wishing to join an institution will now have to submit their fingerprints on line, for verification by the Govt. of india, AICTE -- News

Coming very soon::: Teachers will also have to wear a radio collar. They will have to submit their DNA samples. They may have to report to the nearest police station every day, on their way to college and back. They will have to give their DNA samples and those of their parents and their grandparents, at the time of taking up a job as a teacher. Submitting photographs, testimonials, and certificate copies is out of fashion. We have to move with the times.

All these brilliant precautions are meant to discourage a few dishonest institutions from showing some zombie teachers on their roles. Of course, there will be no more corruption in my country. No employee of AICTE or , University, or UGC will demand or receive bribes any more.

We appreciate all the noble intentions of the Government. We also humbly request you to extend the perks and privileges which terrorists, crooks and criminals enjoy in this free and fair country. Terrorists and crooks do not have to submit any fingerprints or fotos or papers. They can go ahead and freely buy and sell and use guns and grenades. Please consider giving us teachers also this same facility. Please treat us exactly like you treat your criminals.

Thank you Sir,

Let us make "mera bharat mahaan" with all the innovative techniques like the ones above.



Why should anyone care at all ?

I used to be surprised and sad and even angry that no one cared to read all that I put up on the web. No student ever came to me with a question or a remark or a simple thank you. Yet I kept filling up material I knew would be useful to many.

And then I saw this lovely story on the Internet.

Please see my personal blog article "Why should anyone care, anyway ?"
( http://partha-the-person.blogspot.com/ )

I am not disappointed anymore.





I am struggling to get these three to work together :: Tamil + LaTeX + Linux

Is there anybody in or around Hyderabad who can help me/guide me ? Please get in touch with

drpartha AT gmail DOT com

Sometimes, even Professors need to learn things.



Another memorable learning experience

I visited IIIT-H yesterday for their "R and D Showcase" (a 2-day open-house event). It was thrilling to see all the ideas they have, and the enthusiasm of the students. The sad part was the poor time-management, and chaos, which is part of all events organised by us Indians. When will we learn simple and essential skills ? Am I expecting too much ?



Teach yourself LaTeX

One more offering from Prof. Partha -- an easy way to learn LaTeX. Visit the site at:

Like I said before, teaching is the only place where the urge to give is much higher than the urge to take. How true !



Learning LaTeX painlessly

I learnt LaTeX the hard way, so you don't have to. I have posted a whole lot of LaTeX documents in my website. These documents are demo documents which you can hack, and build your own LaTeX library.

Have fun.