Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Knowledge without universities

It's a mystery to me, how India manages to make significant progress (the 4th fastest supercomputer in the world) without having credible universities.


  1. Money?

    Its not that hard to make clusters, its harder to do useful stuff with them.

    I'm sure google employs way larger flop sources, but um, i think they do more linear algebra...

  2. We're just eating our seed corn.

  3. It's indeed not hard to make clusters. But the 4th fastest cluster in the world is not just money. It requires serious brain power.

  4. Ajay,

    Not at all surprising. North Korea makes reasonably good nuclear missiles.

    It's easier to achieve successes in projects that require a small number of highly trained experts. If the population pool is large enough you are likely to find enough numbers for this projects.

    Where the lack of good universities shows up is in the absence of innovative everyday products and services. Has India produced world class vaccuum cleaners, digital cameras, or for that matter, best selling computer software? Such successes require a higher level of overall competencies and knowledge base that comes with good universities and R&D.

  5. most innovations in the world were produced outside universities
    as they say, necessisity is the mother of all invention
    besides, India has good intellectual infrastructure

  6. Ajay, I disagree with your assesment. Have you considered the following:
    (1) The core talent on the project might have foreign university exposure? (2) Supercomputing is a technical discipline and the other article you cite indeed mentions that our universities do NOT fare so badly in that category. (3) The unique cost advantages that might incentiveize setting up a super-computer in India (4) HPC these days has been quite commodified. Given enough money it is not so hard to beat the race. Just like building skyscrapers. Would you consider it incongruous that Malasyia has the tallest skyscraper INSPITE of their Universities NOT being top-notch as compared to say, India? Secondly, you generalize on the basis of only one specific example. Have you corrected for how many more entries in the Top50 belong to the countries with better Universities? It would only be paradoxical if Indians had say more supercomputers than say the US; right now the numbers seem pretty much in correspondence with the quality of the universities in the two nations.

  7. Never confuse the credibility of a university that is currently based on their number of PhDs with the applicability of their teachings. I have often toyed with the idea of promoting a “100% guaranteed PhD free university”.

  8. you and me both dude, but i rather be in a non-credible univeristy in India than a credible one in America.

  9. I agree with the `eating our seed corn' argument. Karmarkar should be sitting at an IIT producing 20 of himself over a life. Instead, he is being used up making cool toys, and the supply of Karmarkars is shrinking.


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