It’s only when the unfathomable, at times perplexing talents of Lady Ada Lovelace died with her premature death at the tender age of 37, that the world came to know about her now famous notes on the Analytical Engine and Computer Science, as a subject, was born. More than a century and half after Lady Ada wrote the first computer program, computers have spread their overarching tentacles so far and so wide that it is almost impossible to imagine life without them. Surely, Lady Ada would be proud, to know, how far her notes have shaped the world we know today.
Speaking of the unfathomable, the fact that a department offering full-fledged courses in Computer Science was started in one of the best mining institutes on this planet is testimony to the fact that Computer Science, as a research field, is here to stay. This is exactly what happened, when, with almost no ado in 1998, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, embarked on its chequered, but mostly fruitful journey. With intentions of imparting a thorough knowledge in the field to the interested, the department, despite its infancy, left no stone unturned to ensure that the graduates it produced could compete on an even keel with the rest of the country.
Almost a decade later, with the department standing firmly on its feet, it needed a distinguishing mark to prosper further. That is exactly what Recent Advances in Information Technology (RAIT) 2007 did. Conducted as a national seminar, RAIT 2007 did the enviable job of bringing together researchers, academicians, IT professionals, people from the industry and valued users on a common platform to discuss the global scenario in the vast world of information technology, thereby ensuring that the next Lady Ada Lovelace would not be lost for the want of a platform. After the resounding success of RAIT 2007 and its sequel, RAIT 2009, the event raised the stakes and went international in 2012. The response was staggering indeed, and RAIT 2014 followed. RAIT 2016, conducted from March 3, 2016 to March 5, 2016 was the third avatar of the conference and fulfilled its envisaged role with aplomb. The General Chair and Program Chair of the conference was Dr. Chiranjeev Kumar, the Head of the Department while Dr. Haider Banka, Associate Professor of the Department, was the Program Co-Chair. Dr. S. Mukhopadhyay, also an Associate Professor of the Department, was the Organizing Chair of the conference.
Just like its predecessors, the vision of RAIT 2016 was to provide awareness about the recent advances in information and communication technology, through tutorials, keynote addresses and pre-reviewed research paper presentations. Another endeavor of this conference was to collate and present the latest developments in IT/Computer along with realistic assessment of the current status and trends. In terms of technical paper submission, the conference received an overwhelming response from academicians and researchers from almost all renowned Institutes of India such as IIT Kharagpur, IIT Indore, ISI Kolkata, IIIT Delhi, Jadavpur University and IIEST Shibpur and also from several reputed R&D Organizations and Software Industries. In total, 344 papers were received and after critical review from international and national reviewers around 38% of the papers i.e., 130 were accepted and 121 were presented during the 17 technical sessions of the conference. All the accepted papers were compiled in two volumes of the proceedings. In addition to the technical sessions, the conference also included two keynote addresses, 2 tutorials and 10 invited talks from industry and academia such that contemporary issues related to recent advances in information technology were addressed.
RAIT 2016 started with the inaugural ceremony on March 3, 2016, which was presided over by Prof. D.C. Panigrahi, the Honorable Director of ISM Dhanbad. Padma Shri Prof. Sankar K. Pal, former Director of ISI Kolkata was the Chief Guest of the function, while Shri Sushil Chandra, Head of Bio-Medical Engineering, INMAS, DRDO was the Guest of Honor. After the traditional lighting of the lamp by the guests on the dais, Dr. Chiranjeev Kumar delivered the welcome address, emphasizing the aims and expectations of the conference. Prof. Panigrahi talked about the startling transformation from the good old days when IT was seen as an anathema in the Indian society to the current scenario, where the field of ICT receives the highest funding from the government. Mr. Chandra, who was visiting ISM for the first time, mentioned the exotic fields of robotics and neuro-informatics, and remained optimistic of India, riding on outstanding research in IT, becoming a superpower by 2023. Prof. Pal, was highly enthused by the conference and said that, every discipline to be discussed in RAIT deserved a conference of its own. He suggested that the conference should at least span four days and encouraged young researchers to work hard, keeping China as the benchmark. The vote of thanks by Dr. Haider Banka, Associate Professor of the Department, brought the ceremony to a close.
Keynote addresses by Prof. Pal, and Mr. Chandra followed the ceremony. While Prof. Pal discussed about the trending topic of fuzzy sets, Mr. Chandra spoke about the cognitive applications of virtual reality and how trending research is conducted in the labs at DRDO. Experts from premier academic institutes of the country like ISI Kolkata, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Indore, IIIT Delhi, Jadavpur University, IIEST Shibpur, VNIT Nagpur, national laboratories and industries delivered 10 invited talks. The talks covered all burning areas of research in the field of information technology, to the tune of cryptography, deep learning, radio networks, electronic nose, NP complete problems and information & communications technology research.
Besides the inaugural session and the keynote addresses, the first day witnessed two tutorials on cognitive radio networks and QoS aware VoIP communication by Prof. Iti Saha from Jadavpur University and patterns of big data and analytics adoption by Mr. Siddharth Srivastava, Oracle Corporation. The first invited talk on challenges and problems in information and communication technology research by Prof. A K Tripathi, IIT(BHU) Varanasi, was also held on the first day. Technical sessions on machine learning and cryptography were also conducted on the first day. The cultural program saw brilliant performances by the talented students of the department.
On the second day, technical sessions were held on diverse topics like communication, soft computing, image and video processing, IT in Geo-Sciences and Mining Engineering, signal processing, VLSI design and real time systems. These were in addition to invited talks on cryptographic techniques for authentication by Dr. Donghoon Chang, IIIT Delhi, content based image retrieval emphasis on the Bag of Visual Words by Prof. Jaya Sil, IIEST Shibpur and deep learning by Dr. Pabitra Mitra, IIT Kharagpur. The excellent Raktima Mukherjee and her band rounded off the long and tiring day with her melodious voice.
The third day saw the technical sessions on topics like artificial intelligence, cryptography and network security, software engineering and information retrieval. Mainly, the discussions on the day were confined to invited talks on polynomial solvability of NP complete problems by Prof. Narendra S Chaudhari, Professor, IIT Indore and Director of VNIT Nagpur, channel allocation on cognitive radio networks by Prof. Bhabani Prasad Sinha, Professor, ISI Kolkata, electronic nose by Dr. Nabarun Bhattacharya, C-DAC Kolkata and using technology to facilitate healthcare for citizens in rural areas by Prof. Nabendu Chaki, University of Calcutta. The other highlights of the day were the invited talks by Mr. Naveen Mehra from Fortinet about the challenges in Network Security and Mr. Manish Ranjan, from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who talked about the oft underrated topic of Industry Academia Collaboration.
No event of this scale is possible without generous participation of sponsors and RAIT-2016 was no exception. Many reputed organizations, including IEEE, IEEE Communications Society Calcutta Chapter, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY), Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Fortinet, Ruckus Wireless, AIPL, ACPL, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Infosys, R K Mediatech Pvt. Ltd. came forward with financial support and helped make this conference truly international.
The event culminated with the Valedictory function on 5th March, 2016, which was presided over by Prof. Upendra K. Singh, Professor, Department of Mining Engineering, ISM Dhanbad, in the absence of the Honourable Director of the institute. Prof. Narendra S Chaudhari served as the Chief Guest, while Prof. Bhabani Prasad Sinha was the Guest of Honour. Dr. Chiranjeev Kumar, highlighted the key points of the conference and read out the recommendations for the future versions of RAIT. Mentioning the rapid strides that information technology is taking, Prof Singh expressed hope that one day, the farmers in the heart of the country would be greatly benefited by IT. Prof. Chaudhuri spoke about how IEEE, the technical sponsor of RAIT, provided a great platform for budding researchers and that young researchers should work hard to overcome challenges and build a better tomorrow. Prof. Sinha, who had attended every edition of RAIT organized by the department, remarked that the quality has been improving since 2007 and anticipated that RAIT would reach great heights in the future. The event concluded with the vote of thanks by Dr. Haider Banka.