Imagine an Indian user with a basic feature phone, doing an internet search with a slow net connection. The phone sends all the information about the search to a distant server, which sends all the information back to the phone. The bottleneck is the uplink which connects to the network. A logjam there means long waits – and a big data bill for the mobile phone user. Now, what if the information sent, could be stripped of all non-essentials, then compressed to make the to-and-fro journey significantly faster?
The work of a young Indian researcher – Ananda Theertha Suresh – has made this happen. This work is now used by millions of people within speech and keyboard input applications in Google products.
The Marconi Society, dedicated to furthering scientific achievements in communications and the internet, will honour Suresh, a Google Research scientist and a PhD from the University of California, San Diego, with the 2017 Paul Baran Young Scholar Award. The 28-year-old researcher will receive the award at a ceremony in Summit, New Jersey (US) on October 3.
Suresh’s research focuses on understanding the most efficient ways to use information, data and communication. As a PhD student at UC San Diego, Suresh showed why Good-Turing frequency estimation works well and developed improvements to the technique, creating an estimator that works across fields ranging from genetics to language modeling. At Google Research, his work helps provide sophisticated communications capabilities and applications to people with low bandwidth internet connections and low-end devices.
Adds Michael D Riley, principal research scientist and manager at Google Research, “Ananda’s research has already led to algorithms that give better compression for a given decompression time budget than we have previously used.”
Suresh obtained his bachelor’s degree in engineering physics at IIT Madras in 2010 and went to the US where he did his engineering, masters and PhD at UC San Diego between 2010 and 2016.
“I am a great admirer of some of the previous Marconi Society Young Scholar winners and I am humbled and honoured to be in their company,” says Suresh.
Marconi Young Scholar candidates are nominated by their academic advisors. Winners are selected by an international panel comprising engineers from leading universities and companies, and receive a $4000 prize plus expenses to attend the annual awards event. Three other Young Scholars were also selected this year. More than the cash prize, Young Scholars are offered valuable mentoring and guidance by Marconi Society’s distinguished roster of engineering greats.
In an interesting aside about this year’s Marconi awards, three persons of Indian origin will receive prizes in three categories. While Suresh receives his award in the Young Scholar category, former Bell Labs chief Arun Netravali, regarded as the “father of digital video,” will be honoured with the $100,000 Marconi Prize. And Stanford University professor emeritus, Thomas Kailath is being honoured with the Marconi Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.