Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sri Lankan CS PhD graduate: Tharaka Devaditya

Ever since I returned home to Sri Lanka in 2001 I've been actively trying to get top local students to go out for grad school (primarily in the US as I'm convinced its the best place for CS graduate work). Many brilliant local graduates end up as programmers (working on off-shored 2nd classs work to moot) and never get the opportunity to have greater impact in the world.

To me, going to grad school and getting that extra nudge is crucial to really get ahead and be able to better compete in an amazingly competitive world. That was my formula .. so I'm trying hard to get others to have the same advantage and opportunity I had. Its incredible to me how people are not aware of the process of going to grad school in the US .. especially the idea that it is possible to get funding and hence to be able to go to grad school without "being rich."

The first person I helped get to grad school, Tharaka Devaditya, recently completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Indiana University. Here's what he worked on:

Title: A Graph Based Cache System for Efficient Querying in Distributed Triplestores
Predefining structures for data preclude the ability to describe certain details effectively, as data is dynamically structured by nature and can be highly diverse and multifaceted. Conventional datastores, such as relational databases, do not conveniently accommodate dynamically varying structures, as frequently modifying database schemas is not feasible. Although, XML databases have been proposed as suitable for such dynamic structured data, these databases suffer from update anomalies. RDF triplestores offer a flexible solution for handling such data, where any property about an entity can be described by a triple consisting of a subject, a predicate, and an object. Data is inherently distributed due to origination points, ownership, and many other reasons.
In this dissertation, we develop a distributed triplestore while investigating different approaches for improving the efficiency of query processing. We implement several index structures at a Mediator where each index structure helps to minimize unproductive communications. We show how the addition of each index structure reduces the query response time. We make use of graph-based caches at the Mediator and at individual triplestores to store triples that correspond to the most frequent set of queries. The Mediator cache enables the Mediator to respond to certain queries, while the triplestore caches avoid the need to perform joins between partial results from different triplestores. Sub-graph isomorphism is used to determine whether a cache has sufficient triples to answer a given query. We show how these caches significantly improve querying efficiency.
Dr. Devaditya is going to be working for Microsoft in Redmond, WA in the Live Search group. CONGRATULTIONS and good luck to you in your career!


By August this year there will be nearly 20 other Sri Lankan grad students in the pipeline working on PhDs in the US. (This is only people I know of who've gone from here .. there are a lot more overall Sri Lankan students doing CS PhDs for sure.) As people graduate and go on to bigger and better things in life I'll try to keep track of them in my blog, at least past their first job :).

The only request I have of them is to never forget their home country and to always do what you can to help. It is no longer necessary to be physically in Sri Lanka to do anything (really) .. so its not even necessary to "return home" to become a key contributor to Sri Lanka's future. If your plans land you back here, awesome, but that's not an excuse for forgetting your roots and not figuring out ways to help! :-)


Ayanthi Anandagoda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ayanthi Anandagoda said...

Well, what makes me really sad is when I listen to people who always look down on the country.
Whilst I totally agree that our infrastructure is crappy and the war is terrible, and of course, people drive like mad on the roads.., I'd still say that its not the fault of the country - its the people. And not all of them either..

If you really look at it, there are all sorts of people, everywhere in the world.. And in a country engaged in war for so many years, where people are put through so much everyday that words fail to describe the hardships they go through - from all ends.. you cannot expect a lot.

I'd say Sri Lanka had not had much luck with good people to rule the country and that's driven the country down hill. But besides that obvious need to improve the infrastructure, the need to bring in politicians from the 'Mars' and a war that must end, this is truly an island paradise. So when you must go - go, and stay if you must.. but never say so much bad about where you are coming from. Its mostly the crowd here who looks down on the country, not so much those who are away from it! That truly tells a story of its own.. It seems to me that we not so grateful, as we think we are!

Srilankan said...

My deepest sympathies to the members of the Family of the Late General Janaka Perera, and the families of all those perons who were the victims of terrorism. It is sad and most regrettable that the General Janaka Perera had been another victim of the terrorists. General Janaka Perera, was a National Hero the Nation was proud of, it is a great loss we will live to regret. Major General Janaka Perera proved the bete noire of the Tigers in the battlefront. He was also a guiding force, along with Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka, that helped the Forces to wrest control of Jaffna and save the beleaguered troops trapped in the peninsula. The killing of the battlefield warrior, Major General Janaka Perera who led his men from the front would redouble the efforts of the Forces to attain their final goal. This would be the tribute to true brave patriotic Late Major General Janaka Perera
An illustrious military career however denied Major General Janaka Perera the position of Army Commander and instead he had to make good of diplomatic positions in Australia and Indonesia where he continued to exert pressure on LTTE's domain internationally. . He worked tirelessly as a diplomat to dismantle international structures of the Tigers. Patriots who crept in to the UNP which serves as a death trap of patriots, never returned. History repeated itself in the cruelest manner for another brave heart of Sri Lanka. Major General General Janaka Perera was killed by a suicide bomber at a political event. Major General Janaka Perera was a brave soldier who fought fearlessly for Sri Lanka, but, he sided with the wrong political crowd. Major General Janaka Perera’s new friends were traitors and he gave in to their plans on a number of occasions. His spiteful allegations against the Defence Secretary, the President, the Army Commander and even against military victories were despicable to say the least. His mistake was too obvious. Patriots around the world knew from the start what was cooking for him in UNP quarters. He simply didn't fit in. The soldier who rarely lost a battle lost the election; it was a massive defeat. Unbeknown to him, masters of his party had decided his fate. He was to be disposed as Major General Lakshman Algama was disposed in 1999. The much talked about new office complex of the UNP which was built in place of the old one that was destroyed by vandals was declared opened by a number of regional UNP stalwarts. Strangely there were no high ranking officials of the party; not even an MP! This is too similar to what happened in Ja-ela on 18th December 1999. It was the assassination of another brave military officer who took to politics following his retirement from the army. The LTTE target at that time was Major General Lakshman Algama who was killed while addressing an election rally in Wattala in support of UNP presidential candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe on the last night of campaigning for the 1999 Presidential Election. Major General Lakshman Algama was one of the most popular war-hero, was misled by the UNP leadreship as he came forward to save the UNP leadership from the internal power struggle.. The bomb blast took place carefully avoiding the UNP top brass.
The LTTE targeted Major General Lakshman Algama on the same night that an attempt was made on the life of President Chandrika Kumartunga at Town Hall. The LTTE tactic was to create uncertainty and confusion in the country at that time while taking revenge on a military officer dreaded by the LTTE. Like Janaka Perera, Lakshman Algama too took to politics from the UNP and was tipped to hold an important position in a subsequent UNP government.
The biggest loss of the killing of Janaka Perera is for the main opposition UNP. He was about to emerge as a frontline leader of the party having an appeal among the nationalist and conservative base of the UNP. He could have helped the UNP to rebuild itself and regain a certain vote base that is veering away from the party at the moment. Knowing the real capacity of the LTTE Janaka Perera too believed that the LTTE could be militarily defeated. The killing of Janaka Perera is a blow to the UNP especially at a time the party desperately needs leaders of his ilk to stand up to the growing popularity of the Rajapaksa regime due to the successful execution of the war against the LTTE. Janaka Perera too joins the long list of UNP politicians whose lives have been violently taken away by the LTTE in the past.
Having suffered defeat after defeat with the army successfully moving forward in the Wanni, the killing of Janaka Perera seems to be a desperate attempt of the LTTE to take advantage of the political differences existing in the country. Also the LTTE desperately needs to make its presence felt to divert the attention from its military defeats.
The LTTE also seem to fear former military officers who take to politics and take charge of the military administration. This fear is justified given the strong backing provided by the present Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who himself was a military officer, to the successful military campaign against the Tigers. Both Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka survived LTTE suicide attacks. The LTTE has taken revenge on military officers who have successfully fought them. Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Wijaya Wimalaratne and Lakshman Algama are some of them. Now Janaka Perera too joins the list.
However, Late General Janaka Perera should have sensed the inappropriateness of the UNP which is today made up of political nobodies, traitors, turncoats and the like. It is the same party that houses the likes of the WPF leader who admitted to keeping LTTE operatives in his house during the ceasefire period. In addition he has been a strong and open proponent of the LTTE. The there is the SLMC leader who was repeatedly rejected by his constituents and has an active MoU with the LTTE signed in 2002. This party is further infested with the likes of one medical practitioner who used to habitually pay homage at LTTE cemeteries. A senior member of parliament from the other camp also joined the UNP recently. He has been known to have a soft corner for the LTTE and he had turned many acts of treason committed by senior UNP members into mockeries. Another recently appointed MP has criticized the army commander for making a factual statement. His allegation was all too similar to the type coming from the LTTE camp. Nobody can forget the hilarious statement made by a very senior UNPer that any ass can fight; clearly dispersing the warrior within the party! Most patriotic members have already left the UNP and those who hold high positions within the party are baptized by the separatists. All this are in addition to its leader who mislead the nation with a surrender agreement with the LTTE which he depicted as peace. There is no way a seasoned soldier could have missed these vital signs.
LTTE separated out the UNP which was the main political force at that time to be its southern counterpart. It eliminated Lalith Athulathmudali and Premadasa in rapid succession. This happened within nine months of killing a number of gallant soldiers at Araly in the Jaffna peninsula. After the assassination of Premadasa in 1993 by the LTTE, UNP became a lame duck headed by timid yet strong-willed supporters and sympathizers of the LTTE cause. Within another 18 months it bumped-off the remaining patriots it had including Gamini Dissanayake, Gamini Premachandra and Oswin Abeygunasekera. Thereafter the UNP was dancing to the tune of the LTTE until General Lakshman Algama joined forces in 1999. He was swiftly eliminated, however, after he was used to the most to derive maximum political mileage. Then the UNP refused to blame the LTTE and instead blamed the government. In 2008 T Maheswaran was killed by the LTTE. Yet again the UNP couldn't sum up enough courage to blame the LTTE. LTTE trims the UNP which it considers to be its backyard. There were bigger political giants than Janaka Perera who tried to change the cause of the UNP in vain. It should not surprise anybody if the UNP once against starts screaming about alleged human rights violations. It stopped this hue and cry after inducting the General a few months back.
On the other hand senior UNP leaders are under no Tiger threat. Not even a single attempt was made to harm them!
This is a cruel awakening by the LTTE to other patriots. It has started eliminating patriotic military and political leaders of this country. It has started from the easiest. Leaders of this country must be fully aware of this heightened LTTE threat to their lives. If they believe the military campaign will soon eliminate the LTTE, they should stay away from public places until such time. The LTTE supremo has outlived ten Sri Lankan administrations and is determined to outlive the present one as well. He should be eradicated soon.
Dangerous times are ahead as the final battle for the terror capital heats up. LTTE will viciously struggle like a drowning man; it will not hesitate to do anything that in its belief would put it off the hook. It is the duty of every Sri Lankan to support the present war effort wholeheartedly; there may not be another chance.
His entry into politics was viewed in different angles by the two main political parties but what we can comfortably assure ourselves was that Late General Janaka Perera was not one to tarnish the image of the military nor was he ever willing to cease the ability to militarily crush the LTTE. This was the balance that linked the two parties and it was this link that could have been a unifier in the long term especially with the LTTE now being cornered. But Late General Janaka Perera has been nullified and it is for this reason we should stand shocked.
The UNP never learns a lesson after so many people have been killed by the LTTE. The latest is Major General Janaka Prerea. As usual, the UNP is blaming the government. They never blame the LTTE terrorists for any crime it has committed. The UNP leadership is afraid of losing Tamil support in the future elections. It is hard to understand this unprincipled conduct of the UNP leadership despite so much death and destruction in the country. They never supported the armed forces to eliminate terrorists hoping that the LTTE will pay back its gratitude to the UNP with a block of Tamil votes. Is it possible for them to work together with the government to eliminate this scourge of terrorism for the last time? No, they cannot because they are profoundly greedy for power. Until the party gets an enlightened leader, who can gauge the pulse of the nation, the UNP has no future.

LTTE terrorists have no permanent friends. They will kill anyone if it suits their agenda. The UNP is running after a mirage hoping that the party’s covert “sympathy” for the LTTE terrorists will bear fruits, which will not happen. In the mean time, Ranil Wickremasinghe, Tissa Attanayake, Jayalath Jayawardane will continue to sacrifice unsuspecting and ambitious UNP supporters to the bloodthirsty murderer to save the party leader from internal rebellions.

When armed forces captured Thoppigala, UNP leadership said they have captured a useless jungle, and went on to challenge the government and the armed forces to go and capture Kilinochchi if possible. Today armed forces are in the vicinity of Kilinochchi. UNP has no vision now. UNP leadership is becoming a cancer not only to the party but also to the entire country as he has tried to survive politically using a war hero, who is an all time target of LTTE. In recent weeks our brave soldiers have been marching forward to remove the LTTE cancer from our country, and the masses is praying at temples for their lives. Has anyone heard a single word of encouragements from the UNP leadership other than constant criticisms and insults? It is high time that a patriotic man or a woman must come forward and take the leadership of this good old political party for the sake of our motherland.
Party differences must not surface to acknowledge the fete that Late General Janaka Perera has accomplished through over 30 years in the battlefield. If there are some who think that the LTTE was not responsible for the killing then they should substantiate this claim with hard evidence. The country's leaders have been through 30 years of terrorist terror being struck down leaving those lucky to survive very much at risk. It would have been desirable that his security was beefed up purely on the grounds that we must show appreciation for the achievements of the late General - but we all know what a human bomb is capable of doing.
While we all accept the deaths with shock wherein many civilians fell victim to another terrorist attempt is it not another call that the nation comes together instead of joining the blaming game to eradicate terrorist activity in Sri Lanka once and for all?
At the present moment it would be wise to stop gatherings of this nature with the VIPs, as the desperate terrorists will go to any extent to cause damage to the Nation. All functions of what ever nature or what ever numbers of persons present should be carefully verified before the arrival of the VIPs. The security personnel should be "doubly" vigilant and to have those special metal detectors to pass around the bodies of all persons entering in to the premises. Also there should be one entrance to such functions all other entrances being closed, and placed under vigilance of Security personnel.

Thambiah Sabaratnam
Alambil Mullaitivu