IndUS Business Journal

500 hired in first 5 days at IIT Delhi

Dec 7, 2017 0

New Delhi–  More than 500 students were hired by recruiters — including 25 international — up to the fifth day of the ongoing placement exercise at the IIT Delhi, the institute said on Thursday.

The first phase of placements was started on December 1 and will continue till December 15. The second one will begin in January.

“The international offers came from companies in Singapore, Hong Kong, the US, Amsterdam and Japan. Among the international offers, a maximum of six offers were fetched from Microsoft on December 1,” a statement from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi read.

Among the national recruiters, maximum number of offers (30) came from INTEL, said the statement.

Indian Space Research Organisation, a government body, participated among the recruiters on the first day of placements.

“Placements had started on a very optimistic note this year. We hope that this trend continues for the rest of the placement season,” I.N. Kar, Professor-in-charge of placement at IIT Delhi said in the statement.

Over 300 organisations across sectors offering over 500 job roles have already registered for placements in the coming few days, the statement added. (IANS)


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Try this! Researchers devise better recommendation algorithm

Dec 6, 2017 0

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The recommendation systems at websites such as Amazon and Netflix use a technique called “collaborative filtering.” To determine what products a given customer might like, they look for other customers who have assigned similar ratings to a similar range of products, and extrapolate from there.

The success of this approach depends vitally on the notion of similarity. Most recommendation systems use a measure called cosine similarity, which seems to work well in practice. Last year, at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, MIT researchers used a new theoretical framework to demonstrate why, indeed, cosine similarity yields such good results.

This week, at the same conference, they are reporting that they have used their framework to construct a new recommendation algorithm that should work better than those in use today, particularly when ratings data is “sparse” — that is, when there is little overlap between the products reviewed and the ratings assigned by different customers.

The algorithm’s basic strategy is simple: When trying to predict a customer’s rating of a product, use not only the ratings from people with similar tastes but also the ratings from people who are similar to those people, and so on.
The idea is intuitive, but in practice, everything again hinges on the specific measure of similarity.

Devavrat Shah

“If we’re really generous, everybody will effectively look like each other,” says Devavrat Shah, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and senior author on the paper. “On the other hand, if we’re really stringent, we’re back to effectively just looking at nearest neighbors. Or putting it another way, when you move from a friend’s preferences to a friend of a friend’s, what is the noise introduced in the process, and is there a right way to quantify that noise so that we balance the signal we gain with the noise we introduce? Because of our model, we knew exactly what is the right thing to do.”

All the angles

As it turns out, the right thing to do is to again use cosine similarity. Essentially, cosine similarity represents a customer’s preferences as a line in a very high-dimensional space and quantifies similarity as the angle between two lines.

Suppose, for instance, that you have two points in a Cartesian plane, the two-dimensional coordinate system familiar from high school algebra. If you connect the points to the origin — the point with coordinates (0, 0) — you define an angle, and its cosine can be calculated from the point coordinates themselves.
If a movie-streaming service has, say, 5,000 titles in its database, then the ratings that any given user has assigned some subset of them defines a single point in a 5,000-dimensional space. Cosine similarity measures the angle between any two sets of ratings in that space.

When data is sparse, however, there may be so little overlap between users’ ratings that cosine similarity is essentially meaningless. In that context, aggregating the data of many users becomes necessary.

The researchers’ analysis is theoretical, but here’s an example of how their algorithm might work in practice. For any given customer, it would select a small set — say, five — of those customers with the greatest cosine similarity and average their ratings. Then, for each of those customers, it would select five similar customers, average their ratings, and fold that average into the cumulative average. It would continue fanning out in this manner, building up an increasingly complete set of ratings, until it had enough data to make a reasonable estimate about the rating of the product of interest.

Filling in blanks

For Shah and his colleagues — first author Christina Lee PhD ’17, who is a postdoc at Microsoft Research, and two of her Microsoft colleagues, Christian Borgs and Jennifer Chayes — devising such an algorithm wasn’t the hard part. The challenge was proving that it would work well, and that’s what the paper concentrates on.

Imagine a huge 2-D grid that maps all of a movie-streaming service’s users against all its titles, with a number in each cell that corresponds to a movie that a given user has rated. Most users have rated only a handful of movies, so most of the grid is empty. The goal of a recommendation engine is to fill in the empty grid cells as accurately as possible.

Ordinarily, Shah says, a machine-learning system learns two things: the features of the data set that are useful for prediction, and the mathematical function that computes a prediction from those features. For purposes of predicting movie tastes, useful features might include a movie’s genre, its box office performance, the number of Oscar nominations it received, the historical box-office success of its leads, its distributor, or any number of other things.

Each of a movie-streaming service’s customers has his or her own value function: One might be inclined to rate a movie much more highly if it fits in the action genre and has a big budget; another might give a high rating to a movie that received numerous Oscar nominations and has a small, arty distributor.

Playing the odds

In the new analytic scheme, “You don’t learn features; you don’t learn functions,” Shah says. But the researchers do assume that each user’s value function stays the same: The relative weight that a user assigns to, say, genre and distributor doesn’t change. The researchers also assume that each user’s function is operating on the same set of movie features.

This, it turns out, provides enough consistency that it’s possible to draw statistical inferences about the likelihood that one user’s ratings will predict another’s.

“When we sample a movie, we don’t actually know what its feature is, so if we wanted to exactly predict the function, we wouldn’t be able to,” Lee says. “But if we just wanted to estimate the difference between users’ functions, we can compute that difference.”

Using their analytic framework, the researchers showed that, in cases of sparse data — which describes the situation of most online retailers — their “neighbor’s-neighbor” algorithm should yield more accurate predictions than any known algorithm.

Translating between this type of theoretical algorithmic analysis and working computer systems, however, often requires some innovative engineering, so the researchers’ next step is to try to apply their algorithm to real data.

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Sugar production pegged at 39.51 lakh tonnes by November-end: ISMA

Dec 5, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) on Tuesday said sugar production in the country till November 30 was 39.51 lakh tonnes – 11.69 lakh tonnes more than that during the corresponding period last year.

“As compared to 79 per cent higher sugar production till November 15 vis-a-vis on the same date in previous year, the gap has come down to 42 per cent at the end of November 2017,” as per a release by the association.

ISMA, which represents private sugar mills, said 443 sugar mills were crushing sugarcane on November 30 while the number was 393 last year.

It said 170 operational sugar mills in Maharashtra had produced 14.90 lakh tonnes as compared to 9.42 lakh tonnes by 142 mills in the corresponding period last year.

In the case of Uttar Pradesh, 110 sugar mills had produced 13.59 lakh tonnes till November 30 when 103 sugar mills had produced 8.48 lakh tonnes during the same period last year.

In Karanataka and Gujarat, sugar production on November had touched 6.82 lakh tonnes and 1.8 lakh tonnes in November-end, respectively.

Sugar season 2017-18 had started with an opening balance of around 38.76 lakh tonnes –lowest ever in the last several years.

“With an anticipated normal sugar production of about 251 lakh tonnes and imports of about 2.85 lakh tonnes (of whites equivalent), the total availability of sugar in the current season is estimated at 292.61 lakh tonnes,” the release said.(IANS)

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India, China to strengthen bilateral trade, investment

Dec 5, 2017 0

Beijing– India and China on Tuesday agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, and to seek opportunities to promote Chinese investments in the Indian economy.

The two countries also exchanged views on policies and measures to address the challenges for attaining sustainable growth, and held in-depth discussions on sharing experiences and best practices in the areas of electric mobility, clean energy, higher education and Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

The issues came up for discussion during the third edition of the DRC-NITI Aayog Dialogue between India’s NITI Aayog and China’s Development Research Council, held in Beijing.

The meeting was co-chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar and DRC President Li Wei.

During the meeting, the two sides agreed that amid global uncertainty and weak global growth, “the two large and rapidly growing developing countries had a major stake in the path that the global economy is likely to take in coming years”.

“The DRC-NITI Dialogue provides an important platform for both sides to discuss key macro-economic issues impacting both countries and areas of mutual interest.

“The third dialogue enabled an in-depth interaction between the two delegations on the world economic prospects, India-China economic cooperation and practices for sustainable growth,” said a statement from the NITI Aayog.

“The importance of pursuing balanced and sustainable bilateral trade was noted and opportunities for promoting Chinese investments in the Indian economy were highlighted,” it added.

The two sides also agreed that the fourth NITI Aayog-DRC Dialogue will be held in India next year.(IANS)

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Solar capacity at airports can be upped to 200 mw: Minister

Dec 5, 2017 0

Kolkata– Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Tuesday said the present solar capacity of 90 MW at various airports of the Airport Authority of India was expected to be ramped up to about 200 MW in the next one and a half years.

“The installed capacity of solar (plants) at airports of Airport Authority of India would presently be at 90 megawatt. If the states agree to provide net metering, it is not difficult to get 200-250 mw in the one and a half years’ time,” he said.

He said the Central government is pushing for clean energy projects at the various airports.

After commissioning of 2 MW of roof top solar PV plant in 2016, a 15 MW grid connected solar PV plant at the Nataji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here was inaugurated by the Minister on Tuesday.

Kolkata Airport Director Atul Dikshit said the solar PV plant was developed at 67.5 acre of land within six plots, each generating a capacity of 2.5 MW, at a total cost of Rs 90 crore.

On the completion of the plant, it would generate 1.35 million units per month which would reduce Airport Authority of India’s electricity bill by approx Rs 1.2 crore per month. (IANS)

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Oracle, Karnataka ICT Society to train 120 teachers

Dec 5, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Oracle and the ICT Society (ICTS) of Karnataka on Tuesday collaborated to ramp up the skillsets of 120 teachers of computer science in over 60 colleges, over a period of three years.

As part of the collaboration, the teachers will be instructed through Oracle Academy courses, including java foundation, java fundamentals, java programming, database foundation, database design and programming amongst many others.

“Karnataka is an emerging hub for education and technology. We are delighted to work with the ICT Society of the State to meet the snowballing global demand for highly skilled, industry-ready professionals,” Damian Haas, Regional Director (Japan and Asia-Pacific), Oracle Academy, said in a statement.

“With this collaboration, Oracle remains committed to creating a future-ready workforce and thereby, address the skills gap challenge.”

The initiative is aimed at increasing the productivity and employability of the state’s working population, both in the organised and unorganised sectors.

In the past fiscal year, Oracle Academy supported over 3.5 million students in 120 countries across 12,000 institutions through an in-kind grant value of $3.75 billion.

In India, Oracle Academy currently teams with more than 1,700 educational institutions, the statement said. (IANS)

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Google unveils new India-first products to connect next billion

Dec 5, 2017 0

New Delhi– Firming up its commitment to connect the next billion Indians by focusing on entry-level smartphones, Google on Tuesday announced several India-first products and features, some of which will be rolled out in other countries soon.

Currently, there are nearly 400 million Internet users in India, along with over 300 million smartphone users and about 650 million mobile phone users.

“On average, a connected mobile Internet user in India today is consuming over 4GB of data per month. At the current growth rate and given the connectivity environment, we expect this number to reach 11GB per user per month in the next four years and Google is here to help connect all,” Rajan Anandan, Vice President, South East Asia and India at Google, said at the company’s third annual “Google for India” event here.

“There are 230 million Indian language users online on Google today and 170 million of them are using messaging service. Yet, we have over 900 million Indians who aren’t connected to Internet. Our mission is connectivity for every Indian. We’ll stay focused until every single Indian is connected,” Anandan said.

At the event, Google announced Android Oreo (Go edition) that will be available for entry-level smartphones, for which India is a huge market.

“Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM will get all the optimisations that come with Android Oreo (Go edition), including a better performing OS with built-in data management features and security benefits,” said Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Next Billion Users Team at Google.

“Our partners’ phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will hit shelves in early 2018,” he added.

To help bikers find the most suitable route in India, Google has incorporated navigation routes for two-wheelers with Voice Assistant capabilities in its Maps feature.

“India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market and the navigation needs of these millions of riders are different from automobile drivers. Two-wheeler mode in Maps gives routes that use shortcuts not accessible to cars. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations,” said Martha Welsh, Director, Google Maps.

The two-wheeler mode uses machine learning to suggest more relevant routes for riders, using smaller roads and two-wheeler-friendly shortcuts.

The two-wheeler mode will arrive in more countries later, Google said.

In a move to empower feature phone users in the country, Google announced to bring its Voice Assistant on Reliance JioPhone.

The Google Assistant for JioPhone will be available in English and Hindi. This is the first time Voice Assistant will be available in any feature phone.

“For the first time ever globally, the Google Assistant will be available on a feature phone. Whether in entry-level smartphones or JioPhones, the Google Assistant can help you call, text, play music and videos, and access other apps,” said Gummi Hafsteinsson, Product Management Director at Google.

The company also announced a new set of pre-installed Google apps, including Google Go (a new lighter app from Google Search) and Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition).

Google Go is light on storage and data and works efficiently on patchy connections. “It’s less than 5MB to download, and search results in Google Go are optimized to save up to 40 per cent data,” Sengupta added.

Google also announced “Files Go,” an app that will help free up space, find files faster and share files offline on smartphones that come with less internal storage.

The company also brought bill payment facilities on its digital payment app “Tez”.

“More than 70 billers will be supported, including utilities and direct-to-home service providers, on Tez,” Sengupta told reporters here.

“Tez” will support bill payments for Tata Power, MTNL, DishTV, CPDCL and other utility providers that will include national and state electricity providers, water, DTH and gas recharges.

“Tez” has processed over 140 million transactions from nearly 12 million active users. There are more than 525,000 merchants already on the Google mobile payment app. (IANS)

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India’s secondary cities spawn more start-ups: Nasscom

Dec 5, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Incubators and accelerators in tier-2 and tier-3 (secondary) cities across India are spawning more technology start-ups than ever before, said the IT industry apex body Nasscom on Tuesday.

“Secondary cities are emerging as new hubs for start-ups across the country as they are driven by growing number of incubators and accelerators,” said a joint survey report Nasscom prepared with the city-based management and strategic consulting firm Zinnov.

Out of about 5,200 total technology start-ups present in India as of 2017, nearly 20 per cent (1,040) start-ups are present in the secondary cities, the report found.

About 40 per cent (76) of the total 190 active business incubators and accelerators are located in secondary cities such as Ahmedabad, Pune, Jaipur, Lucknow and Chandigarh, it said.

“Traditionally, many tier-2 and tier-3 cities of India have been educational hubs, which makes them ideal and plausible destinations for start-up incubators and accelerators,” the report said.

Out of the 190 business incubators and accelerators in India, 90 are academic, while the rest are government-supported or private-run.

India has witnessed a “phenomenal” progress of technology start-ups in the last decade, the study noted.

“Indian start-up ecosystem continued to remain attractive for investors with almost $6.4 billion funding in the first half of 2017, nearly 167 per cent growth over the first half of last year.”

Start-ups in the country have also been working on India-centric grass root level problems, the study added.

Over 325 start-ups in the country are currently working on solving the challenges in the fields of healthcare, education inclusion, financial inclusion, clean energy and agriculture. (IANS)

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Apple agrees to pay Ireland over $15bn in back taxes

Dec 5, 2017 0

Washington– iPhone maker Apple has agreed to pay Ireland $15.46 billion in back taxes by early 2018.

According to Wall Street Journal, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Monday that both sides agreed to the terms of an escrow fund for the money.

The European Union in 2016 launched a fresh crackdown over taxes paid by tech giant Apple.

The EU said it planned to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover the money in back taxes from Apple.

According to the EU, the tax deal allowed Apple to pay almost nothing in tax on its European profits between 2003 and 2014.

It concluded that the US firm’s Irish tax benefits were illegal, enabling the firm to pay a corporate tax rate of no more than one per cent.

Ireland had claimed that EU regulators were interfering with national sovereignty.

Not just Apple, Amazon was also ordered to repay $293 million in back taxes after the European Commission said it had been given an unfair tax deal in Luxembourg.

Amazon denied it owed any back tax, saying it did “not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg”. (IANS)

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India’s largest makerspace to come up in Hyderabad next year

Dec 5, 2017 0

Hyderabad– India’s largest makerspace, a prototyping and design centre, will come up here next year and will have equipment worth over $20 million, Telangana’s Industry Minister K.T. Rama Rao announced here on Tuesday.

To be known as T-Works, the facility will come up over 250,00 square feet with many partners offering their software tools and equipment.

Modelled on the lines of makerspaces in other countries and customised to Indian needs, this will probably be the world’s second largest facility of its kind, he said.

Anybody with an idea can collaborate with other people at T-Works and convert his or her designs into working prototype.

“T-Works will be up and running around this time next year,” the Minister said, while addressing India Design Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, adding anybody could use freely available tools — software, test and measurement equipment — to build any product.

“T-Works will allow anyone young or old school student, graduate or retired professor, man or woman to collaborate with other intelligent individuals and converge their designs on paper or PC and convert it into working prototype,” said Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

Open to all Indians, the facility will have CNC machines, cutting machines of all kinds, welding and carpentry tools, PCB assembly machines, and 3D printers of all ranges.

“This I believe is going to change the way we do business especially with respect to design and hardware space in India,” he said.

The Minister said T-Works will help in making products in domains like mechanical, electro mechanic, electronics and semiconductor spaces.

It will also help in making products in automobiles, IoT, avionics, drones, med devices, medical instruments, defence equipment, consumer electronics, telecom products, mobile devices, gadgets and sensors.

“T-Works will become one of cornerstones and essential hub in the wheel in heralding a new wave of entrepreneurs, makers, tinkerers and designers of all kinds, aesthetic, textile, fashion, lifestyle, mechanical and technological,” he added. (IANS)

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