All posts by Karthik Sankar

I’m a connoisseur of art, a concoction of assorted interests, with a creative mind and an observant eye. An explorer by choice, I am a simple guy with rich tastes. I’m ever busy, read a lot, always at my witty best, and adore intelligence. Though I look reticent by chance, I talk a dozen to ten, if we share that bond. If you respect friendship, I will like thee. If you love music, you will love me.
The world is in our hands, and we are burning it down

We are burning down the world …

The world is in our hands, and we are burning it down

Look around. Read newspapers. Corruption. Wars. Terrorism. Epidemics. Poverty. Disasters. Think. If you had previously thought that the world is a beautiful place to live in, do your calculations again. And if you still think the same, you are probably one among millions of people living in a virtual world. The real world is pathetic, and is going down into its own abyss at a speed that is beyond human comprehension.

It is perfectly human to feel a need for power. But it is the greed for power that is turning deadly in terms of scope and consequences. Corruption has become omnipresent. The rich magnets are sucking prosperity out of the needy. If corruption becomes widespread, I fear that it will no longer be illegal. It will no longer be immoral. In the end, if that remains the only means of survival, what else can we do?

Terrorism is turning out to be an unending war. The causes for terrorism are varied: Religious, Political, Economic, and other causes. We are not walking down the right path – religion is increasingly becoming defocused, politics need long-term vision but politicians have short term goals and the economic situation is strained. If we proceed in this path, we must eliminate progress from the equation.

Let’s shift from humans to nature. We are living under the presumption that our resources are infinite, nature is always generous and bountiful. Nature has selflessly given us almost all that she had had within her. Resources are depleting. Crude oil is depleting. We now find one barrel for every four we consume. Similar is the case with coal, metals and everything else we have been plundering from earth. We are facing a terminal decline.

Add to these the earthquakes, tsunami, floods, draughts and other natural calamities that are destroying lives in millions every year. Or are these nature’s own little way of implementing corrective measures?

We are presented with hundreds of circumstances on life’s adventure that we complacently take for granted. We have conveniently adapted ourselves to the present, accepting it as a part of our lives. It is the degree to which we have become accustomed to this convenience pod that thwarts imagining its obsolescence, along with that of the infrastructure based upon it.

It is high time we wake up from our virtual dreams. The reality is disheartening. The game is rapidly slipping out of our hands. When disaster strikes, it will strike us so hard that it will erase mankind from the map of the universe. Are we ready for the disillusionment? Are we ready to change our lives towards the better? Or are we getting ready to brace ourselves for the end? But please, let’s not stay oblivious to all these.

“If you don’t deal with reality, reality will deal with you”

Thank you, folks, for giving me a fantastic 2010

To all, from my heart…

Thank you, folks, for giving me a fantastic journey of 2010

A mixed bag it was. 2010. Loads of happy moments, and a good share of trying moments too. Every single day has taught me something new, and every one of you have been a special part of my life.

I want to take the time to thank all of you for being so wonderful and for being in my life. You have made me what I am today. I hope our paths cross again, near Barista or Starbucks, so that we can talk over a cup of coffee on all the important trivia and smile together :) :)




The Art of Money Creation

Reserve Bank of India
Reserve Bank of India – India’s Central Bank

Banks create money out of thin air. It is a by-product of their quest for profit. The entire economy thrives (and occasionally, falls too) on this ability of ‘credit creation‘ by ‘money factories‘. How do banks create more money than actually exists? How does this enable an increase in total volume of money in the economy? What are the risks?

First, let’s get on the same page with some basics:

  • Banks get money from what we deposit in them.
  • Deposits are banks’ liabilities, since banks must return it to us when we ask for the money.
  • Banks lend loans by using this deposit money of ours.
  • Loans are bank’s assets.

The CRR:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the central note issuing authority in India. Commercial Banks in India are required to hold a certain proportion of their deposits in the form of  cash. This minimum ratio (that is the part of the total deposits  to be held as cash) is stipulated by the RBI and is known as the CRR or Cash Reserve Ratio. It is a tool used by RBI to control liquidity in the banking system.

The Process:

Let’s assume there are various Banks in the Banking System. Bank_1, Bank_2, Bank_3, etc. Let’s assume the CRR to be 10%.

  1. Anand deposits Rs. 100 in Bank_1. Keeping Rs. 10 in reserve (CRR is 10%), Bank_1 lends Rs. 90 to Bala.
  2. Bala deposits his Rs. 90 in Bank_2. Keeping Rs. 9 in reserve, Bank_2 lends Rs. 81 to Clara.
  3. Clara deposits her Rs. 81 in Bank_3.

This process continues.

The Math Behind This:

Time for some calculations. In the first cycle, the bank could loan out 90% of Rs. 100. In the second cycle, the bank could loan out 90% of 90% of Rs. 100. Thus the amount of money the bank can loan out in some period n of the cycle is given by:

Rs. 100 * (90%)n

  • Let A be the amount of money infused into the system (in our case, Rs. 100)
  • Let R be the required reserve ratio (in our case 10%).
  • Let T be the total amount the bank loans out
  • Let n represent the period we are in.

From the equation above, the amount of money the bank can loan out in any period is:

A * (1 – R)n

Thus, the total loan amount is:

T  =  A*(1 – R)1 + A*(1 – R)2 + A*(1 – R)3 + …

T  = A * [ (1 – R)1 + (1 – R )2 + (1 – R)3 + … ]

Mathematics says,

x1 + x2 + x3 + x4 + … = x / (1-x)


T  = A * (1 – R) / R

How much money have our banks loaned out using the Rs. 100 deposited initially? Using the above equation, this would total up to 100 * (1 – 0.1)/0.1 = Rs. 900.

In this entire process, to find the total amount deposited (D), we need to take into account the initial Rs. 100 too.

D  = A + T

D  = A +  [ A * (1 - R) / R ]

D  = A * (1/R)

which, for our example, will total to Rs. 1000.

The cash in reserve for any period is:

R * A * (1 – R)n-1

Total reserve is:

( R * A ) [1 + (1 – R)1 + (1 – R)2 + (1 – R)3 … ]

which simplifies to A = Rs. 100

The Balance Sheet:

This is how the combined balance sheet of the Banks will look like:

Bank Liabilities  Deposits Assets Credits Reserve Total Assets
Bank_1 100 90 10 100
Bank_2 90 81 9 90
Bank_3 81 72.9 8.1 81
- - - - -
- - - - -
Bank_n 00 00 00 00
Total 1,000 900 100 1000

Such is the power of this simple process that banks have created an asset of Rs. 1000 using an initial money of Rs. 100. In other words, Banks have created money. This type of banking is called “Fractional Reserve Banking”

Why does this process succeed?

This process succeeds because most money transfers today do not involve cash or currency. It involves just cheques, DD, etc. or electronic transfer – mere numbers on a computer screen.

When would it fail?

This system fails in two main cases:

  1. Cascade of withdrawals
    When all depositors come asking for their money back at the same time. The banking system will not have enough currency to meet the demands. In fact, one main purpose of the CRR is that the banks must be able to repay deposits when there are significantly large number of withdrawals.
  2. Loan defaults
    What would happen when the debtors default or fail to repay the loans? This would also result in banks having insufficient money to pay back depositors.

The financial system is much more complicated than what we have discussed. But the above two are one of the basic reasons for the recent recession – just that it involved a cascade of selling stocks on the market, and defaults of subprime mortgage loans.

The key thought here is:

Cash or Currency refers to the physical notes in our purses. Money, on the other hand, is a symbol of promise or trust (I promise to pay the bearer the sum of …). While cash is limited in an economy, money is unlimited.

Featured image: Saad Akhtar (Flickr)

Natural Language Processing – Basics

Natural Language Processing

  • Making computers understand and deal with natural (human) languages like English, Tamil, Spanish, etc.
  • Exploiting human cleverness, and not computer cleverness

Natural Language Processing is a field of Computer Science and Linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and natural (human) languages.


Phonology study of speech sounds
Morphology study of meaningful components of words
Syntax study of structural relationships between words
Semantics study of meaning


  • Modeling the pronunciation of a word as a string of symbols – PHONES
  • Involves study of syllables, how they sound and how they group together to produce the word sound.
  • Notice the difference in sound of “C” in the following words:
    • Coach
    • Chair
    • Can


  • Identification, analysis and description of the structure of words.
  • Study of structural variations of words
  • INFLECTIONS in a word are structural changes, usually through affixes, to express Number, Tense, Case, Gender, Person, etc.
    • dog – dogs
    • goose – geese
    • hunt – hunted
    • his – hers
  • WORD FORMATIONS includes a group of words that have a specific meaning when they appear together.
    • mother in law
    • hot dog


  • Study of grammars
  • Syntactic correctness in sentence formation
  • Part of Speech tagging
    • Noun
    • Verb
    • Adjective, etc
  • I can write : Is “can” AUX VERB or VERB or NOUN?


  • Understanding and representing the meaning

    A simple semantic network
  • Predicate Calculus can be used to represent semantics: Has(Ram, book)

Browse through the below presentation for more information on

  • NLP
  • Ambiguity resolution
  • Perceptions
  • Applications of NLP
  • Machine Learning

I answered a questionnaire, probably ..

My kindergarten notes !!

I have a treasure that not many of you would possess – My kindergarten notes !!!

I answered a questionnaire, probably ..

I knew numbers till 100 !!! And I knew cursive writing. And no spelling errors, either ….

I knew Hindi !!

And … I knew more Hindi then, than I actually know now …

I probably was in UKG, or Class I. (Don’t remember, obviously!)

Wah !!! Why am I so proud of myself now ??? !!!

Thanks to my uncle and aunt for preserving this little piece of paper for almost two decades !!!


ராக லட்சியம், லட்சணம்

இசை இறைவனால் வழங்கப்பட்ட அற்புதக் கலையாகும். இசையால் இசையாதார் யாரும் இல்லை. பூமியிலும் வானத்திலும் நிகழக்கூடிய விந்தைகளுக்கெல்லாம் விந்தையாகும் அற்புத விந்தை தான் இசை.

இறைவன் இன்றி எதுவும் இல்லை என்பது மகத்தான உண்மை. எங்கும் இசை, எதிலும் இசை. கடலின் காற்றோ, மழையின் சப்தமோ, மரங்களின் அசைவுகளோ, நடப்பன, பறப்பன, ஊர்வன, மிதப்பன என அணைத்து ஜீவராசிகளிலும் ஜீவனாக இருப்பது இசைதான்.

கர்நாடக இசை மிகப் பழமையான இசை. தெற்கு இந்தியாவில் தோன்றி இன்று உலகெங்கும் வழங்கப்படும் இசை. ஏழு ஸ்வரங்கள் கொண்ட அற்புத இசை. ஸ்ருதியினையும் லயத்தினையும் தனது இரண்டு கண்களாகக் கொண்டது. ராகத்தையும் தாளத்தையும் அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டது கர்நாடக இசை.

கர்நாடக இசையில் ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்திற்கும் லட்சணமும் லட்சியமும் உண்டு. இவை இரண்டும் ராகத்தின் உடலும் உயிருமாக ஒன்றி வருவன. ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்திற்கும் தனி விதிகள் உண்டு. ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்திற்கும் தனி சக்தி உண்டு. ராகத்தை வழங்கும்போது அதன் லட்சணம் பிழறாமல் லட்சியத்தை நிறைவேற்றும் விதத்தில் வழங்கினால் தான் இசை முழுமைபெறும். இசைப்பவரும் ரசிப்பவரும் இறைவனை சென்றடைய முடியும்.

» Read more on this topic at my Music Blog site …


Articulation, Vibrato and Gamakas on Violin

Articulation refers to the different bowing gestures on the violin. In the middle of a long, sustained note, each vibration of the violin string is nearly identical to the one that preceded it. The violin is said to be in a steady state. Of greater importance are differences in violin sounds coming from the transients: the short lived effects at the beginning and end of each note. These are achieved by different articulations or bowing styles.

In western terminologies, some common articulation techniques include:

  • Col legno
  • Collé
  • Pizzicato
  • Spiccato
  • Sul ponticello
  • Sul tasto
  • Tremolo
  • Glissando

» Read more on this topic at my Music Blog site …