The joy of simple things

Let me start with this line - "the days when apple and blackberry were just fruits"!

Those days are long gone, aren't they? These days, it is perhaps very hard to think about going from one corner of even a medium size city to the other! For that matter, I know people who were lost on their way to places they have frequented! Sometimes I don't blame them, it is confusing; other times it is the over dependency on Google-maps and GPS enabled devices.

But what I what to write here is not so much of the complexity of the modern technology (ket(ಕೆಟ್)-knowledgy) but about books; some old classic books.

Before I get into that, lemme mention, this good-old television program that was originally broadcast on the BBC, hosted by James Burke. This episode also has a lot to do with our over dependency on technology and how simple factors can be detrimental (beneficial also, of course but we have taken that for granted, haven't we?) to life and living of millions of people.
Connections : 
This particular episode talks about power blackout and how it will stop the day (and life eventually, if the power is not restored). I list this here because my research is exactly about "situational awareness" (there are a lot of fancy words floating around; this one is good here because it is closer to English than electrical engineering) of a large power system. How can one maintain a good bit of information about the state of the power system and minimize the chances of a system-wide failure (localized failures are still okay!! in power system terminology this is called "wide-area blackout") and minimize the coverage (extent) area of a failure.

Back to books - I am gonna give you a few examples of things that changed my perspective of choosing books to read, the joy of reading simple books and on listening to simple talks. Apparently Einstein said "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." (P.S: Supposedly that's not what he said but the newspapers reported it so!)

Of course, the books are technical (what did you expect, I'd mention Chethan Bhagat?) the first one is
Jonathan D. Cryer, Kung-sik Chan, Time series analysis: with applications in R, Springer, 2008.
One my my committee members had me read chapters from this book for my PhD preliminary exam.  If you have a subscription, you can download this book from the SpringerLink website. It turns out this is not exactly the book he had in mind. He was referring to this one,
Jonathan D. Cryer, Time series analysis, Duxbury, 1986.
If you use google-books you will not find it, (hard to believe, I still doubt strongly if I can say that with full confidence, but I am very sure). The library carries only one copy of this book. With much difficulty, I got hold of the book, the very prof had checked-out the book from the library. Anyway, I read most of both books, one heavy on simulation (with R), and modern literature, much of which dint make any sense (I din't have the required background and am not familiar with the language of the STAT folks). But ....

The 1986 version was so very pure in its content. You should read it to believe its beauty. Such an easy read, doesn't bog you down with unnecessary detail. You know, if I was so keen on knowing recent advances in the statistics time series analysis, I would much rather read journal papers than text-books! The older book was just perfect. But the newer version seemed to have lost that magic, the convincing power, the idea of being simple, concise and convincing.

There are a few other books that I would like to mention,
1. Harry L. Van Trees, Detection, Estimation, and Modulation Theory, Part I; New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1968.
An excellent book, people would tell you this is a classic, it perhaps goes a class above "classic"; yet so simple and succinct in its approach; I just love this book.
Here is the resume of Dr. Van Trees, enough motivate the best of the best

2. E. J. Hannan and Manfred Deistler , The Statistical Theory of Linear Systems (Classics in Applied Mathematics). SIAM-Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

A classic book by all definitions. You see, my field is statistical signal processing or call it system identification if you'd like. Some even call it time series analysis. Many simply say digital signal processing. Often the term "estimation theory" is also used. Some electrical engineers also want to call it the linear control theory or linear systems theory. Sometimes I just tell people that I work on adaptive signal processing. The borders are undefined. So much so that, the econometrics has an equal contribution to this field as linear operator theoreticians. If I have found any book that relates all these and still make sense at my level, it is this book.


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