A little bit about me
I was born in India, and grew up mostly in Mumbai and Delhi. I studied at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, graduating with a B.Tech in 1984 . I then went to the US and then received my PhD in Computer Science from Syracuse University in 1992. I have worked at IBM Research at the T. J. Watson Research Center since 1991 except for four years when I worked for a startup called Reefedge located in Ft Lee, NJ.
My work generally straddles the areas of systems and AI. The topic of my PhD dissertation was about ways to improve the backpropagation training algorithm for neural networks. At IBM, I have worked in many diverse computer science projects - everything except neural networks!. In fact, I started work on a group building one of the first ever gigabit networks and developed low-level software for embedded processors in our custom equipment. I then progressively moved up the stack moving on to work on Java Virtual Machine internals and then e-commerce in the late 1990s.
At Reefedge, I returned to the field of networking. When the company started, Wi-Fi was only just becoming available and there were numerous problems with security. Our main product was a security system based on IPSEC to secure Wi-Fi networks. I managed a development team working on system administration tools for our products.
Returning to IBM in 2004, I went back to my original area of interest, artificial intelligence. I currently work in enterprise knowledge management. I am trying to find ways to help people share knowledge with others. This is a particularly challenging within large enterprises - not only is this a technical challenge but also a an organizational and cultural problem.
Although I have not worked directly in the area, I am very interested in cognitive science and mathematics in general.
When I am not at work, I enjoy tinkering with electronics and mechanical gadgets. My hobbies are model trains and robotics. You can read more about my activities in these areas elsewhere on this web site.
About South Indian names
South Indian names can be confusing. My "official" name (i.e. whats on my passport) is Rangachari Anand. However, my name is actually "officially" written backwards! If you were to meet me on the street, I'd like you to call me "Anand". So then perhaps you might conclude that we write our family name first like the Koreans. But thats not the case either. Its actually a little more complicated. See the following diagram.
When I am not working on computers, I really enjoy tinkering with electronics and mechanical gadgets.
In our tradition, we don't actually have a distinct family name at all. A person has just one name. To distinguish oneself from others with the same name, the general approach is to add the initial corresponding to the father's name. Thus in India, my name was simply "R. Anand". When applied to universities in the US, I was forced to expand my initial to the full name "Rangachari". Rather than confuse things further, I decided to adopt this convention in all application forms and also, eventually, in my passport.
Another point to note is that my (late) grandfather had four names! The first initial in his name, Valangaiman, is the name of his home town which is in the state of Tamil Nadu. This is a small town that was apparently famous for raising horses that could walk backwards! Krishnaswamy was my great-grandfather's name. Iyengar is the name of our sub-caste. Increasingly, people have stopped including any caste references in their names. However, in my case, any one from Chennai would know that the suffix "chari" (in my father's name) is mainly used by Iyengars!
In the old days, both men and women followed this naming convention. However, women do not generally follow this convention any more! In recent years, women have simply started to use their husband's name as their last name. Hence, my mother's name is officially "Lalitha Rangachari".