The Board Exam Business – Part II – Bridging Rural – Urban divides . Really ?

I was quite interested in verifying the truth in some of the claims made by politicians (Mr. Sibal of zero loss fame ), administrators and bureaucrats with regard to the bizarre idea of including “normalized” board examination scores for engineering students – mind you this idea affects perhaps 50,000 students. I can’t get access to the entire data for the country. But as a sample, I picked up one of the national boards ( ISC-ICSE ), scraped their result from the web and tried to infer of how the performance of students varies with the size of the city they are in. Big cities certainly perform much better.

I don’t have a take on whether it is the job of an exam to fix rural-urban divides over academic preparedness for an exam. But I do have strong objections when someone claims that X-is-a-fix-to-Y when in fact there is sufficient evidence to show that X-will-aggravate-Y.

One such claim which has been vigorously advertised is that this will bridge the “rural-urban” divide. Really ?  Data tells otherwise. I am somewhat allergic to bad data. Here are the aggregate scores, city wise for the ICSE Class 12 Examinations for cities where 20 or more people gave the exam. City – Number of Candidates – Average Score

( Please scroll down right till the bottom of this post to see some of my concluding comments. )

City —- Number of Candidates from that City —– Average Aggregate Score for candidates appearing from that city
NASHIK 41 67.456
RAIGANJ 41 68.505
KHERI 69 50.273
BANDEL 222 74.609
RAJKOT 117 74.166
SASNAGAR 75 70.811
NAMCHI 44 53.857
JABALPUR 120 58.735
VARANASI 759 66.653
KARNAL 37 61.771
BHAKTINAGAR 71 75.443
LAKHIMPURKHERI 73 64.459
MODINAGAR 48 71.744
BOKAROSTEELCITY 140 70.499
LUCKNOW 7449 68.897
JAIPUR 94 63.640
DISTBASTAR 187 58.589
UNNAO 182 60.294
PAKYONG 76 59.239
GANGANAGAR 105 67.084
PATIALA 127 73.334
ASANSOL 258 69.848
NEWCOOCHBEHAR 45 76.065
DUBAI 91 80.725
SERAMPORE 213 61.501
24PARGANASN 120 62.639
PRATAPGARH 64 63.687
LUDHIANA 115 70.980
PATTANAKAD 54 76.648
TANGASSERI 186 70.996
DIGWADIH 41 72.032
SHAMLI 53 72.251
VISAKHAPATNAM 38 71.548
DURGAPUR 184 63.066
BINNAGURI 86 66.899
SATNA 46 75.469
SHYAMNAGAR 63 69.628
CUTTACK 34 54.716
LALITPUR 90 60.195
NADIA 72 53.740
TEHRI 55 55.939
MUSSOORIE 293 68.435
JAIGAON 77 57.639
SHIMLA 98 68.019
KOCHI 105 67.251
UKHRA 49 62.233
BAHRAICH 107 62.297
KOTTAYAM 58 78.500
MUMBAI 558 77.934
SINGHBHUM 100 59.587
DATIA 80 67.537
MADURAI 45 81.286
KALIMPONG 499 58.427
THRISSUR 128 74.642
KURSEONG 197 56.609
INDORE 139 68.337
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM 559 78.481
SODEPUR 148 71.193
RAIPUR 245 61.567
ALIGARH 364 51.084
BIJNOR 86 69.676
BASTI 92 74.730
BARASAT 99 61.437
24PARGANASS 59 72.658
CHENGANNUR 37 75.477
BALRAMPUR 35 58.447
FALAKATA 77 43.469
ORISSA 58 45.878
DISTTJALPAIGURI 63 68.198
ALMORA 99 69.136
BEGUSARAI 54 65.724
BANGALORE 941 77.135
BARAUT 47 67.975
HOWRAH 2113 65.227
BURDWAN 243 70.628
MATIGARA 62 78.132
MEERUT 101 66.167
ROURKELA 989 61.421
VELLORE 39 80.564
KOLKATA 9594 69.770
RAIWALA 48 45.562
PATNA 315 65.561
SIKAR 44 62.019
AMRITSAR 203 67.216
JAMSHEDPUR 2362 68.818
ROORKEE 119 48.888
BARBIL 46 61.395
MUZAFFARPUR 34 56.511
BUDAUN 36 60.949
GANGTOK 113 66.978
MAKHLA 153 57.270
ASSAM 77 84.786
SOLAN 68 61.349
DISTJALPAIGURI 74 57.801
MUKTSAR 57 66.295
BARRACKPORE 39 71.511
SILIGURI 415 62.367
PUNE 284 67.836
THANE 169 81.892
TUNDLA 32 67.047
KHARAGPUR 149 65.434
SANTRAGACHI 42 56.868
GURGAON 276 78.096
DISTTHENILGIRIS 56 74.831
RANCHI 87 54.142
DARJEELING 614 64.365
KANGRADISTT 41 75.654
AZAMGARH 176 64.387
GHAZIPUR 116 60.405
BHARUCH 33 76.454
HOOGHLY 276 56.639
AGRA 765 69.966
FARRUKHABAD 139 57.804
JALANDHAR 56 63.533
MEERUTCANTT 204 74.964
HAPUR 64 45.971
KANNUR 81 77.543
ALLAHABAD 1913 63.018
CHANDANNAGAR 114 76.396
MIRZAPUR 52 65.964
FATEHPUR 55 58.229
HYDERABAD 381 70.160
SAHARANPUR 93 58.901
JAUNPUR 85 64.094
MAU 70 69.858
GREATERNOIDA 48 62.931
NAJIBABAD 77 67.332
SITAPUR 58 67.127
SHAHJAHANPUR 108 59.818
NAVIMUMBAI 57 65.012
CHANDIGARH 59 69.522
CHITTOOR 39 81.940
B8821CODE3amp4CANDIDATESNOTATTENDINGSCHOOL 32 47.403
GORAKHPUR 1092 66.780
BHUBANESWAR 107 58.354
DHANBAD 534 65.803
PATHANAMTHITTA 53 78.825
KALYANI 78 69.163
AGARTALA 218 56.715
NEWDELHI 127 67.448
MAINPURI 46 63.140
CHUNGATHARA 36 65.273
CHENNAI 141 81.545
HARDOI 31 55.904
SURAT 346 69.061
SINGRAULIDIST 52 55.170
BHARANANGANAM 48 75.344
KOLLAM 219 71.087
GHAZIABAD 376 65.454
PANIHATI 283 74.904
DANKUNI 124 63.460
RAMNAGAR 62 51.690
UDYOGAMANDAL 32 80.914
BHADOHI 202 62.289
RAEBARELI 261 59.247
NABHA 67 65.486
MAVELIKARA 51 78.049
BALLIA 107 70.073
KHUNTI 80 46.080
BHAGALPUR 225 72.591
KOTAGIRI 51 80.738
BHOPAL 85 74.914
PADRAUNA 32 67.239
RAJNANDGAON 43 61.260
HARIDWAR 58 57.845
PALIA 77 58.273
MOGA 104 65.285
MORADABAD 467 56.665
MATHURA 97 66.763
MIDNAPORE 62 59.175
GARHWAL 149 67.604
AJMER 118 82.412
CHANDRAHATI 56 76.416
AHMEDABAD 474 65.423
SHILLONG 53 68.308
BAREILLY 394 65.870
ALIPURDUAR 50 65.652
JALPAIGURI 66 76.147
PURBAMEDINIPORE 36 68.943
KONNAGAR 76 58.168
PAURIGARHWAL 38 70.912
JHARSUGUDA 84 51.500
KANPUR 2628 70.341
JHANSI 779 63.788
HISSAR 34 61.021
DISTAHMEDABAD 47 70.004
NARSAPUR 75 57.200
RISHIKESH 295 66.961
UAE 44 67.723
NAINITAL 191 71.744
MALDA 156 60.440
SECUNDERABAD 81 73.183
DISTRAIGAD 43 48.527
SAHIBGANJ 50 64.955
TIRUVALLA 186 69.204
DEHRADUN 2841 70.321
GHAZIPURDT 32 62.109

These cities – and – aggregates have been extracted via some quick text processing techniques.   So they might not be 100% accurate. For instance, if a school had BANDRA ( a part of MUMBAI ) in the address and not the word MUMBAI, then it got dropped out while calculating the average aggregate for Mumbai. There might also be a few cases of some records which weren’t properly included in the data But anyway, the general trend is visible, loud and clear.

 

Cities/Towns where the averages are in the fifties : KHERI,NAMCHI,JABALPUR,DISTBASTAR,PAKYONG,CUTTACK,NADIA,TEHRI,JAIGAON,SINGHBHUM,

KALIMPONG,KURSEONG,ALIGARH,BALRAMPUR,MUZAFFARPUR,MAKHLA,DISTJALPAIGURI,SANTRAGACHI,RANCHI,HOOGHLY,

FARRUKHABAD,FATEHPUR,SAHARANPUR,SHAHJAHANPUR,BHUBANESWAR,AGARTALA,HARDOI,SINGRAULIDIST,RAMNAGAR,

RAEBARELI,HARIDWAR,PALIA,MORADABAD,MIDNAPORE,KONNAGAR,JHARSUGUDA,NARSAPUR,

 

Cities and Towns where the averages are in the Sixties : NASHIK,RAIGANJ,VARANASI,KARNAL,LAKHIMPURKHERI,LUCKNOW,JAIPUR,UNNAO,GANGANAGAR,ASANSOL,SERAMPORE,

24PARGANASN,PRATAPGARH,DURGAPUR,BINNAGURI,SHYAMNAGAR,LALITPUR,MUSSOORIE,SHIMLA,KOCHI,UKHRA,BAHRAICH,DATIA,INDORE,RAIPUR,BIJNOR,BARASAT,DISTTJALPAIGURI,ALMORA,

BEGUSARAI,BARAUT,HOWRAH,MEERUT,ROURKELA,KOLKATA,PATNA,SIKAR,AMRITSAR,JAMSHEDPUR,BARBIL,BUDAUN,GANGTOK,SOLAN,MUKTSAR,SILIGURI,PUNE,TUNDLA,KHARAGPUR,DARJEELING,

AZAMGARH,GHAZIPUR,AGRA,JALANDHAR,ALLAHABAD,MIRZAPUR,JAUNPUR,MAU,GREATERNOIDA,NAJIBABAD,SITAPUR,NAVIMUMBAI,CHANDIGARH,GORAKHPUR,DHANBAD,KALYANI,NEWDELHI,MAINPURI,

CHUNGATHARA,SURAT,GHAZIABAD,DANKUNI,BHADOHI,NABHA,PADRAUNA,RAJNANDGAON,MOGA,MATHURA,GARHWAL,

AHMEDABAD,SHILLONG,BAREILLY,ALIPURDUAR,PURBAMEDINIPORE,JHANSI,HISSAR,RISHIKESH,UAE,MALDA,SAHIBGANJ,TIRUVALLA,GHAZIPURDT,

 

Cities and towns where the averages are in the Seventies : BANDEL,RAJKOT,SASNAGAR,BHAKTINAGAR,MODINAGAR,BOKAROSTEELCITY,PATIALA,NEWCOOCHBEHAR,LUDHIANA,

PATTANAKAD,TANGASSERI,DIGWADIH,SHAMLI,VISAKHAPATNAM,SATNA,KOTTAYAM,MUMBAI,THRISSUR,THIRUVANANTHAPURAM,SODEPUR,BASTI,24PARGANASS,CHENGANNUR,BANGALORE,BURDWAN,

MATIGARA,BARRACKPORE,GURGAON,DISTTHENILGIRIS,KANGRADISTT,BHARUCH,MEERUTCANTT,KANNUR,CHANDANNAGAR,HYDERABAD,PATHANAMTHITTA,BHARANANGANAM,KOLLAM,PANIHATI,

MAVELIKARA,BALLIA,BHAGALPUR,BHOPAL,CHANDRAHATI,JALPAIGURI,PAURIGARHWAL,KANPUR,DISTAHMEDABAD,NAINITAL,SECUNDERABAD,DEHRADUN,

Cities and towns where the average is in the eighties :DUBAI,MADURAI,VELLORE,ASSAM,THANE,CHITTOOR,

CHENNAI,UDYOGAMANDAL,KOTAGIRI,AJMER,

 

It is clear that metropoitan areas like Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Bangalore, Dubai have aggregates in seventies and eighties. Tier-2 cities dominate the sixties. There are a lot of remote places in east and north east which dominate the zones which have averages in the fifties. So what were we claiming about bridging rural-urban divides ?

* If you’re interested in seeing the underlying data, please mail me. This was done using some quick Ruby scripting for crawling the entire ISC Class 12 result, data *might* be a few points off here and there , but by and large the trends are clear and this analysis is certainly more extensive than anything the Powers That Be might have done. Also, the aggregate score for all subjects which a candidate appeared for has been used over here.

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The Board Exam Business – Restoring the sanctity of an exam which has none

I have been following bits and pieces of this IIT JEE saga and trying to contribute to the discussion in various places such as blog comments. In this whole process, I must say that the award for outstanding confidence certainly goes to the IIT Guwahati Director. I read (or perhaps heard) him quickly dismiss all concerns regarding the sanctity of the board exams as “Anecdotal”. Huh ?

Would you allow an entrance examination such as JEE to be conducted within the  premises of the same school as the students appearing for it ? Would you allow teachers and the administration of that same school to supervise the conduct of that examination ? An examination where it is known to be easy to cheat and copy in various parts of the country .

Before even getting into the mathematical absurdities of what is being proposed can IIT directors please enforce that there should be security/ police surveillance at board examination centers and some stringent criteria to make sure that board examination papers are leak proof .

Otherwise, why make the effort of going through so many organizational headaches for the JEE when a major criteria in the process in an exam which is so easy to game ?

I passed out from one of the relatively “better” boards of the country a long time ago in 2001. This discussion on my Facebook wall should let you know how much is the sanctity of that exam.

Or maybe that is the kind of examination which politicians would love since their corrupt kind would ace it ?

What an awesome plan to improve the school system by creating the world’s most awesome incentive to cheat !

But we do have to give Dr. Barua the credit for voicing his thoughts (however ill-informed) vocally about the IIT – JEE issue unlike his peers who prefer to create damage secretly and are far more dangerous.

 

( I wish I could get Dr Barua to see this comment thread to see how authentic these exams are. )

Image

 

 

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Pythagorean Triplets

An interview question which I’ll never forget. One of those obvious things which were always staring at you in the face except that you didn’t notice them.

Faced this soon after B.Tech. – when (many of us) were trying to run away, as far as possible from India, and as quickly as possible.

Bloomberg Financials, London; Role : Quant Dev; Date: Sometime within six months of graduation

I went into the interview, after revising probability, statistics & machine learning, numerical techniques – and trying to package the formulas and cheat sheets as nicely as possible. And the question I get is this -

Prove that every Pythagorean triplet includes a multiple of five.

Eh ? It took me 30 seconds to realize that I had never noticed this very obvious property of Pythagorean triplets. All the more shameful given that I’d award the Pythagoras theorem the prize for being the most useful theorem ever in euclidean geometry. After a couple of minutes of being dumbstruck, I finally threw together a straightforward solution to it, though it wasn’t really an algebraic solution. The interviewer seemed okay with it. They asked a few interesting statistics questions as well.

By the time Bloomberg called me for the next round, I no longer needed the job and I politely excused myself out of the interview process, but I was tempted to go into the next interview just to solve their interesting problems.

Which brings me to yet another point.

What you are often asked in programming interviews :

Given an acyclic graph .. x y z x y z … complexity .. a b c a b c … Amortized Analysis ..

Come up with a dynamic programming formulation for ….

Calculate the conditional probability for ….

What should be asked in most of those programming interviews - specially true for most big company jobs (anywhere on the planet) and India offices in particular

Given a buggy and broken code base on an unknown machine and an incomplete set of requirements what exactly are you going to do with it to keep yourself busy enough to be eligible for a paycheck,

How often have you hooked up a debugger ? That’s what you’ll be doing for most of your life going forward.

I see you did an Algorithm Design course. Did you learn something about Button and Toolbar design ?

And the final compatibility question in the HR round :

We hope, you do realize that your formal CS Degree is to Software Engineering what a Physics degree is to building bridges. (?)

 

 

 

 

 

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paschimbangla

Kolkata – the city still gave me the same feeling as Howrah station did when I first arrived in that part of the country over ten years ago – the yellow Ambassador cars, chaos and disorder. I did like the fact, that despite the dilapidated buildings, it still has vast green patches, open spaces and a nice tree cover. People looked quite relaxed. Some parts of the city actually looked quite nice, at least from a distance ( Park Street and Esplanade ) and I regretted the fact that I hadn’t explored eastern India (specially the North East) one bit despite staying there. Fortunately I haven’t made that mistake again and have always made sure to fully explore the places around me.

Part of me wished that I could have included a quick trip to KGP. Another part of me wanted to steer clear of all awry memories of a stressful episode where little seemed to go right. Though I never visited the place after finishing my final year project, it would probably be interesting to go and see all that has changed over the years and to meet my guide. Anyway, life has become much better after gaining moksha from a soul draining cycle of examinations.

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The Viralness of Facebook – all within minutes and seconds

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If someone told me that AirSpace was half as crowded as this I’d think twice before flying

Ship, ships and more ships.

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Uncertainty and the real world

Bangalore in the early nineties. A garden city, a peaceful retirement town with a hill station’s climate. People begin to discover this nice little town and migrate there. That can be surely expected in a country where for some reason, urbanization has so far been concentrated in areas with the harshest weather conditions on the planet; hot and humid. Coming back to those migrating to Bangalore. Initially the flow of people to the city begins as a trickle and  that trickle quickly becomes a flow ( as more and more MNCs establish base there ) . The arrival of people over there makes it an even more crowded and congested place than the cities where the people originally came for. The same story holds true for Pune as well.

Google in 2002-2004.  A small company, very much a startup. Provided a welcome escape to people at the Empire – Microsoft ( which was also an agile startup somewhere in the distant past ).  Google provided that “startup-y” feeling to people who wished to escape the role of being shiny cogs in the wheels of  corporate giants. Fast forward to 2011 and Googlers are heading to Facebook and Twitter for that “startup feeling”. What itself started as a startup is no longer one.

21/22 year old starry eyed college graduate with that prized job.  Wants to be a millionaire before thirty. By the time that million or crore or whatever … is finally in sight, it no longer seems as much as it did at 22. Many others around were on a similar agenda. Now that so many are equally rich, you don’t feel all that rich. What you feel is the inflation.

In short, whenever you make a transition to experience a change,  you negate the change you intend to experience, specially when you are part of a crowd making a similar transition. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle was not just applicable to electrons jumping orbits.

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