Prof. I. G. Sarma Memorial Lecture

Department of Computer Science and Automation
Indian Institute of Science

Reliable Meaningful Communication


Prof. Madhu Sudan

Microsoft Research and
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Venue: Faculty Hall, Indian Institute of Science
Date: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Time: 4 - 5 PM

Guests of Honor:
Professor P. Balaram, Director, IISc, Bangalore.
Professor N. Balakrishnan, Associate Director, IISc, Bangalore.



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Reliable Meaningful Communication

Around 1940, engineers working on communication systems encountered a new challenge: How can one preserve the integrity of digital data, where a minor errors in transmission can have catastrophic effects? The resulting theories of information (Shannon 1948) and error-correcting codes (Hamming 1950) created a ``marriage made in heaven'' between mathematics and its applications. On the one hand emerged a profound theory that could measure information and preserve it under a variety of adversarial injections of errors; and on the other hand the practical consequences propelled telephony, satellite communication, digital hardware and the internet. Today, as we allow computers and computational devices to interact freely with each other and control complex engineering systems, all with limited human intervention, we encounter a new challenge: How can we ensure that computers interpret the messages they receive from each other correctly so that they do not cause catastrophic actions due to misinterpretation? The resulting class of questions poses new challenges to mathematics: both in modelling, and in analysis. In this talk I will give a brief survey of the history of reliable communication, and outline the challenges of communicating meaningfully.

A B O U T   T H E   S P E A K E R

Madhu Sudan got his Bachelors degree from IIT Delhi in 1987 and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1992. From 1992-1997 he was a Research Staff Member at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center. In 1997 he joined the faculty at MIT, where among other roles he served as an Associate Director of MIT's CSAIL from 2007-2009. In 2009, Madhu Sudan joined Microsoft Research at their New England Research Center as a Principal Researcher. He continues to be a Professor at MIT.

Madhu Sudan's research lies in the fields of computational complexity theory, algorithms and reliable communcation. He is is credited with some of the most remarkable results in computer science in the recent times. He is best known for his works on probabilistic checking of proofs, and on the design of list-decoding algorithms for error-correcting codes. His current research interests include semantic communication and property testing. The awards secured by Madhu Sudan include the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award (1993), Godel Prize (2001), Nevanlinna Prize (2002), and Distinguished Alumnus Award of UC-Berkeley.

A B O U T   P R O F.   I.   G.   S A R M A   M E M O R I A L   L E C T U R E

The prestigious lecture was instituted in 1997 in memory of Professor I.G. Sarma, the founding chairperson of the Department of Computer Science and Automation (then called the School of Automation) during the formative years of 1971-1979. His tenure as the chairman, Centre for Continuing Education and later as the Dean, Faculty of Engineering was marked by many important academic and education initiatives being launched at the Indian Institute of Science. Professor Sarma mainly worked in the areas of Flight Control, Guidance, and Simulation and closely interacted with many of the Aerospace R&D and Flight Vehicle Design Organisations such as the NAL, DRDL, VSSC, and ADA among others.

The first lecture in the series was given by Dr Abdul Kalam in 1997. The subsequent lectures have been given by Dr. S.C. Gupta; Prof. Roddam Narasimha; Dr. Vasagam; Mr. Ajim Premji; Prof. K.S. Trivedi; and Prof. Ravi Kannan.

The talk by Professor Kailath will be the eighth in the series of lectures.


The lecture is organized by Faculty, Students and Staff of the Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

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