Friday Feb 12, 2010

Serendipity, and the connectedness of problems

Nice readling list, complete with commentary, from Hal Stern. Hal recommends it for student interns setting out into the real world, but it's great for people at all levels and stages of their student and/or professional lives. Enjoy!

Monday Feb 01, 2010

The passing of an era

I have had pleasant associations with Sun now for nearly 22 years. As a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara, my advisor showed off the row of shiny new Sun workstations in a sweltering lab which had been hastily converted but had no air-conditioning. I soon learned that these Sun machines could take anything that the heat and the graduate students could throw at them; and then some. Some of the ruggedest hardware and software that you ever saw.  Those were the machines on which I did my initial work on distributed consensus algorithms, as my introduction to academic computing research, way back. By the time I was into my fourth year at graduate school and ready to write my Theorem Prover for Interval Temporal Logic (based on a decision procedure for the logic which constituted the core of my PhD dissertation), we had the next generation of (Sparc!) hardware and the next version of SunOS, faster and better than the previous. On to my brief post-doc in Denmark, a short research and teaching stint at TIFR Bombay, and then a longer stint at SUNY Stony Brook: at every single place where I worked, the core computing ran on Sun systems, and everyday for the past two decades or more I have logged into a Sun workstation when I got in to work. And then of course there was the sometimes wild and sometimes not-so-wild, but always fun, interesting, and technically challenging, times after that at Sun, my first and only job in industry. It is here that I met some of the most passionate and accomplished colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing so many interesting discussions and projects over the years. This is where I have spent the last 12+ years of my professional life. But Sun had already been part of my professional life for almost a decade before that. So, after nearly 22 years of association with Sun in some form or the other, in many ways it feels to me today as if I am about to say good-bye to the first and only love of my life. I must now learn to love someone else,  someone with certainly a new body and perhaps a new soul. I know that it should not matter, because the body and soul of Sun will live on in its new home at Oracle. But, in the last few days, it has been the small, superficial things, things that should not matter at all -- like the italic font of the Sun logo (with the small "microsystems" under it; and my kids never stop marveling at the coolness of the "Sun bug"), or its cool purple colour, things that should not matter an iota -- that remind me of the company that I grew to love and cherish for so many reasons. But most importantly for all its beautiful people and its open culture. One thing is certain, Sun will occupy a special, cherished place in my heart forever, even as I now move on to the next phase of my life at Oracle, after Sun, with many of the same colleagues with whom I have enjoyed so many years at Sun.  Please pardon my sappy sentimentality above -- it'll be back to work as usual as soon as I hit "publish", and move on to the next technical challenge awaiting me at my new home at Oracle, solving the toughest problems for our many customers!


Y. Srinivas Ramakrishna, or Ramki, is a Senior Staff Engineer at Sun, where he works on technologies underlying Sun's HotSpot Java Virtual Machine. His interests span virtual machines, concurrent systems, formal verification and automatic control.


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