Monday, April 04, 2005

DAA-mn You, AI's!!!

It's gone far enough and now I'm really pissed...

The whole thing started when we were asked to select our elective subjects for next semester. There were three choices -

Design and Analysis of Algorithms (DAA)
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Digital System Design (DSD)

The norm in the previous years has been that most students have opted for DAA, and the other two subjects splitting the rest roughly 50-50. Or so it was until last year, to be more precise.

Last year saw things start to change a little. A brilliant introductory lecture by Udayan Kanade, the guest lecturer for DAA, so captivated the students that 90 of them opted for DAA and only 7 for AI. That's when the staff went against one of the oldest adages in the book - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" But no, these morons just HAVE to stick their leg in the way; poke their nose where it ain't needed!

They decided that the 90/7 proportion wasn't appropriate and so started trying to convince students to switch. Some students were even taken aside and personally informed that there was no way they could clear DAA and they would be better off with AI. Don't ask me why this was done - I haven't quite figured it out myself. However, the ploy worked, and the end result was DAA - 34, DSD - 0 and the rest AI. DSD was therefore not offered and everyone was happy.

Fast-foward to this year. This year they decided that taking last year's fiasco into consideration, it would be better to skip the introductory lecture. When the time came to make the decision, almost everyone selected AI, save for a smattering of about 7 souls (your's truly amongst these elite few)! The reasons were as cockamamie as any I've heard -

Someone - "DAA's too tough!"
Someone else - "I don't know anything about either subject, so I just chose AI!"
B - "A has chosen AI so I have chosen AI!"
C - "A and B have chosen AI so I have chosen AI!"
D - "A, B and C have chosen AI so I have chosen AI!"
E - "A, B, C and D have chosen AI so I have chosen AI!"... you get the picture.

Ironic that they are choosing a subject titled Artificial Intelligence without displaying any "intelligence" in the first place!

I won't be surprised to hear something like, "My initials are AI so... !" It's ridiculous!! Herd mentality! The blind leading the blind! Pigeon-shit!

To add to the woes, Udayan decides that since there are so few intersted in DAA, he would only conduct a few guest lectures instead of the entire syllabus! This is disastrous, because I have never come across a teacher half as mind-blowing as he. And knowing my utter disgust for most teachers and my stinginess when it comes to showering praise, that says A LOT!

Why am I so disconsolate about the situation? For two main reasons -

a) DAA is a core Computer Science subject, and it pains me to see so few of my batch-mates interested in taking it. It's of only three subjects that we have in our syllabus that are REALLY, REALLY important from the Computer Science point of view (the other two being Theory of Computer Science and Data Structures and Algorithms). What makes the matter even worse is the stupidity of the reasons being proffered! Ok, so I agree DAA isn't the easiest subject in the world and you may actually end up with 5-10 marks more in AI. Maybe even 15. But's it's your final year and that's not as important as the stuff you'll learn in DAA. I cannot over-emphasize the essentiality of this subject. Whether you plan to get a job or go for further studies, knowledge of this subject is a must. Some US universities even require this as a complusory subject in your transcripts. And it actually hurts me to see so many people reject it so thoughtlessly. Even if you were planning to pursue further studies in AI, I'd be hesistant about recommending the course, because this syllabus is something of a let down. But at least then I'd understand. Now I'm just puzzled...

b) The second and more important reason though, is that if there are less than a certain fixed number of students for an elective, it won't be offered at all. And currently there are less than the required quorum for DAA. So unless things change in the next 2-3 days DAA isn't going to be offered at all, and this is what REALLY pisses me off!!

I'd like to state in conclusion that any of you who are reading this and currently in the AI camp - Please give your decision some more thought. If after having actually thought it through, you still prefer AI, then I really can't force you into anything else (and neither would I want to do so). But all I'm asking of you is to think about it a little, instead of blindly following the others...


Anonymous said...

I am Anon for u :)
It's funny DAA is not compulsory course in Pune University CSE syllab.
Ask ur classmates to refer IITB CSE webpage to know where ur undergrad syllab stand with rest of the world.

Sandip Jadahv

Jagdish R said...

Well... its changed now...

DAA is a Compulsory subject.

The list of electives to choose from is:

1. AI
2. Image processing
3. Advanced DBMS
4. Multimedia Techniques

and yeah... still many prefer AI...

Final yr, Pune Univ