Exchange Diaries  

By International Relations Cell

Outbound Diaries 2019

Srijan Bansal | Electronics and Electrical Communication Engg.

EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), Switzerland

Research Area: Deep learning in the optimization algorithm

Duration: 2 Months

Why did you think FT is essential?
In the last winter, I went to Tokyo in Hitachi and got a flavour of research over there, and EPFL came as a big opportunity for me to explore the research world. And after completing my internship over there, I am motivated to pursue research as a career and go for higher studies. There are a plethora of opportunities in research, and a lot of people have done excellent work. Especially in my field of interest, there are a lot of possibilities of coming up with new ideas. Also, there are a lot of problems, which makes it quite challenging and exciting to pursue.

How did you apply for FT?
Well, I applied for the summer program of EPFL through FT portal of International Relations Cell by the end of October. I just had to submit my CV, cover letter, and Statement of Purpose.

How was their work culture?
The research work is excellent, and the people are incredibly supportive. Even the professors are amiable, and we used to dine together and discuss our problems on a cup of coffee. The environment is amicable and supportive. We used to have weekly group meetings, where we present the work we have done that week and people around give their suggestions or ideas regarding our work. The people over there are dedicated to their work.

How was your experience in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a beautiful country, though it's a bit expensive. The people are friendly and interactive. And the crime rate over there is less.

How did you manage your finances?
They gave me 1600 dollars in cash per month, and the rest was all depended upon me, but the money given was sufficient for me. The laboratory secretary had arranged accommodation for me. I had to pay the travel expenses, but later it got reimbursed. The accommodation was around 600$ per month since in EPFL they have their housing apartment known as FMEL. And the food was 20$ per day so roughly it used to amount the same as accommodation since my lab wasn't that far, so I hardly had any travel expenses.

What differences did you observe in the research work here in KGP and your FT?
The research work over here in KGP is that we are trying to find a solution for a real-life problem by using State of the Art models. But over there, they try to build their State of Art models, and they are creating tasks. The people over there are creative, and the way they go about a problem is commendable.

Did CG play a vital role in getting an FT?
Yes, it did. As the selection procedure in the summer research program is tough and competitive, and having a good CG gives you a plus point. Also, high CG tells the interviewer or professor that you are academically very sound.

What was your project all about?
My project was entirely theoretical. It was on adaptive stepsize ruling for stochastic gradient descent algorithm as well as a gaussian approximation for non-smooth loss function.

What would you suggest to fellow KGPians regarding FT?
The advantages of having an FT is that you will get to learn a lot of stuff, not only the academic perspective, but your personality also develops. Also having an FT tells that you have a sound research work and if you are aiming for higher studies then FT will be a cherry on the cake. It shows that you have a global learning experience like you have learned in your country, and then you have an experience of research work outside of the country. Also, two and a half months is a long time, so you can also publish your paper and get the feel of the research.

Interviewed by Krushnasis pradhan.