Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Joy of Teaching at an IIT - 2

My first semester teaching at IIT Jodhpur was highly satisfactory due to the Programming and Data Structures course. The elective course Computational Photography was a good experiment to carry out though I was not fully convinced with the complete organization of the course. The main problem with that course was the lack of proper textbook from which I could teach coherently. The course I believe turned out to be similar to a great movie script with an incoherent screenplay. Students' feedback for these courses also gave me many indications about what I still lack as a teacher. I wanted to correct such mistakes in the courses I taught in the second semester through proper planning and organization.

I wanted to first identify the best textbooks for the second semester courses - Digital Electronics and Microprocessor Technology (DEMT) and 3D Computational Photography and Vision (3DCPV). While "Digital Principles" by Malvino and Leach is supposedly the best book for digital electronics, the beauty of the original text was remixed by an Indian author resulting in complete chaos. This forced me to use "Digital Systems" book by Tocci, Widmer, and Moss and "8085 Microprocessor" book by Ramesh Gaonkar. The best aspect of both these books is that they are highly practical which helped me conduct the lab sessions in sync with the lectures.

3DCPV was named like that as I wanted to focus only on the depth recovery aspect of computer vision and not focusing on the high level vision tasks such as recognition and segmentation. The book by Richard Szeliski provides a very good overview and gives pointers to all the material related to computer vision. It can be the only best reference for computer vision but it demanded more effort from students to locate appropriate material from other sources. Most students do not perform this extra task to learn. I decided to teach classical depth recovery algorithms through "Robot Vision" book by BKP Horn and modern projective geometry based algorithms using "Multiple View Geometry in Computer Vision" book by Richard Hartley and Andrew Zisserman. I found all these three books complement very well for a complete 3D vision course.

While DEMT course I taught for third year BTechs (electrical engineering) was more practical, 3DCPV elective course for final year BTechs, MTechs and PhDs was more theoretical in nature. However, I made sure that I derived almost all the relevant equations in my lectures to deliver the intuition behind various algorithms which can then be readily implemented. DEMT lab sessions ran parallel to the lectures which helped students try out what I taught immediately during the lab sessions. I evaluated 3DCPV course only through the mid semester and end semester exams. As always, there were no marks allotted for attendance and class participation in all the four courses and associated lab sessions I taught last year. I strongly felt that the students should come to class out of their own interest for better knowledge transfer.

I liked teaching both DEMT and 3DCPV courses in the second semester of my teaching career. They enabled me to correct and fix some of the errors I had made earlier. The only concern towards the end of DEMT course was I could not cover some of the advanced topics in microprocessors due to time constraints. Anyway, I tried my level best to make sure I made the fundamentals clear through my lectures in both these courses. I should thank all the 44 students in the DEMT course and 39 students in the 3DCPV course for their active participation in the lectures which helped me deliver the best I could.

P.S: Courses at IIT Jodhpur - Details