Thursday, August 11, 2011

M.Tech CS - Admissions through GATE - Analysis 2011

This blog post has content specific to those:

  • who belong to CS
  • who are under 460 rank in GATE
  • who are in General category
If you don't belong to the category described above, you may still read on because you may find some interesting information in this post.

If you are just preparing for GATE, you should solve more and more questions. And for that I would recommend GKP Publisher's Question Bank. Although there are some mistakes in the book for solutions to some problems, but I recommend this book solely for the huge collection of problems it has.

GATE CS has become very competitive and the competition is increasing every year at an alarming rate. In GATE 2009 only 41000 candidates appeared in CS. The number increased to 107086 in 2010, mostly contributed by recession and lack of job opportunities in IT sector. In 2011 amazingly the number of candidates rose to 136291(last rank was 136027 but exact number of candidates who appeared in the exam was 136291) although recession had retreated and jobs were available in plenty. This shows the increasing interest of Indian youth towards masters degree.

GATE - Who takes it? Why?

Now lets know who are the people who opt to pursue M.Tech and why?

Broadly, there are three kinds of people who want to pursue M.Tech from IITs. The first kind is like me, who want better placement opportunities in reputed companies like Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Directi, Intel, Facebook, Yahoo! , Adobe etc. which are unavailable to most students who haven't done B.Tech from NITs or some other better colleges other than IITs. It is considered that these companies not only give you a well paid and reputed job that doesn't insult your talent but also give a great life and corporate culture. After doing B.Tech from private engineering colleges most of the students are absorbed by TCS, Wipro, Infosys and a couple of other mass recruiters. Once you land in these companies and get under some nasty manager you will realize that a labour working hard carrying bricks in the sun has a better life than you. Sometimes in these companies, you'll feel that the people above you are no match for your talent and still they are making more money(being there for more time than you) than you and also load you with stuff to do in a day that would require at least a week! This high profile bureaucracy prevailing in these companies and the plight of newly entered Software Engineers can't be felt by those who have never been victims of this, and can't be expressed by those who are already facing this thanks to their lack of time. Also you are trained like dogs and put to any job profile according to their wish. The field you are put into may be the one you hated most during your B.Tech, for example Testing. So, for these students M.Tech from IITs apparently, is the only saviour.
The second category of students is the one who want to pursue M.Tech then after making pretty sum of money and enjoying vibrant lifestyle, want to pursue Ph.D and then enter the academic field with cravings for being professors in top institutions.
The third category consists of the people who are dedicated to research only. They want to do researches through out their life, put forward some remarkable new findings, get them popular enough to find place in some textbooks. So our next generations when don't understand their algorithms/formula/theorems abuse them saying who on earth on what unlucky day gave this freaking theorem I can't mug up to vomit in my exam!!!!
There is another narrow overlapping category consisting of people who missed IIT-JEE by a few marks, and now want to fulfill their dream of being an IITian, through the GATE way!

The top institutes analyzed

I would focus on the eight best institutes according to the candidate's choices. All the IITs are the best and saying that one is better than other would be like writing an algorithm to sort an array of equal elements!!!! All of them are the best. But here I would like to rank them according to the students' tastes. The taste of students is driven by the specializations they want to pursue and the no. of professors in that specialization in particular IIT, lifestyle at the institute, placements and a couple of other aspects like regional inclination for example most north Indian people prefer IIT Delhi over Madras and south Indians do the other way round.

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is the undisputed champion when it comes to research. It ranks first in India in terms of research output. Getting into it is equally tough. There are two flagship programs for Computer Science graduates. The ME in Computer Science program is open only for direct admission. If you have an All India Rank of under 45 in GATE then you may expect a direct admission call in this program. Another program called ME in Systems Science and Automation requires you to pass their own written test and interview. The candidates are shortlisted based on GATE scores and called for written test and interview. I am not sure upto how much rank they call for this program.
The third program for CS graduates is M.Sc Eng. For this program too you should have a good GATE score. But generally upto around 1000 rank people are called for written test and interview. IISc is highly mathematics inclined. If maths is not your cup of tea then it is almost impossible to get into SSA or M.Sc Eng. even though you have a very very high GATE score. The interviews and written are generally maths oriented.
Research wise IISc is the best. But placements in IISc are not considered to be as great as compared to top IITs like Bombay, Madras and Delhi. Although no one remains unplaced after going through IISc for 2 years rigorously but not all companies that visit IITs are aware of IISc. Moreover in IITs the placements are managed professionally and each IIT has a separate placement cell whose sole purpose is to get companies. But in IISc, professors do it in their spare time.
If you want to apply for IISc then do it early because last date for application submission is generally 2 or 3 days after declaration of GATE result(15 March) i.e. 17 or 18th March.

IIT Bombay
IIT Bombay's flagship program for CS graduates is M.Tech in Computer Science(TA). This program accepts only direct admits. In 2011 last GATE rank offered admission in 4th list in general category is 104. In 2010 it was above 125. GATE score cutoff is 868 for general category in 4th list in 2011. IIT Bombay is the most popular choice for toppers who get under 100 rank. Backed by highly paid placement offers, the vibrant lifestyle of Mumbai and a very large Computer Science faculty group, IIT-B houses top performers of GATE.
Here is the admission summary of 2011.
So, if you are under hundred rank in GATE you can be sure to get admitted there.
There is also an RA program which is of 3 years where you are assigned on some project and you have to serve for 20 hours a week instead of 8 hours in TA. In return you get Rs.1000 extra as stipend.
The admission offer lists of IIT Bombay are declared first, among all IITs.
In IIT-B there are other interdisciplinary programs like Geoinformatics where you can get in even if you are not in top 100. There you may take CS branch electives and get placed in software development field. But I wont get into details for these workarounds to get inside IIT Bombay. I'll talk only about programs of excellence in top institutes.
IIT Bombay is best choice if you are just course and placement oriented and not much of research oriented.

IIT Kanpur
IIT Kanpur is 2nd best choice for research oriented people. It is considered that, after IISc the name of IIT-K is taken for research.
IIT-K has 38 seats for general(as of 2011). They first declare a direct admit list. You can make into this list if you are under 70 rank in GATE. But generally around 5-6 highly motivated students take direct admission here. Rest join IIT-B. To fill the rest seats IIT-K conducts a written test and interview. They called upto 460 rank(in 2011) for written. The written comprised of aptitude questions which has very high percentage of application of probability distributions. If you are not good at probability distributions you may not get through the written test. 93 people( from all categories) were selected in written test. I was also one of them(luckily). Then you have to get through an interview. If you have high marks in written test then interview is pretty formal. But if you have lower marks then it is tougher and even if you answer their 50% questions and show good approach in trying to solve the problem you will get through the interview. I couldn't get through the interview. I had a very low score in written(just above the cutoff) because I am very bad at probability distributions. They asked me just 2 questions and they were sure that I am not worth IIT-K :P
I am also not that research oriented and so I knew IIT-K M.Tech isn't my cup of tea.
I met a senior and he advised me to join IIT-D or M instead of IIT-K if placements is my only aim. He also threw some light on doing M.Tech from IIT-K. According to him, it is quite tough in academics and building good CGPA is a very difficult task here. Also, if the professors are not satisfied with your thesis work, then your M.Tech may get extended for 6 months at a time. It is like a mini Ph.D.
So, join IIT-K if you are highly motivated towards research and dare to take on.

IIT Delhi is a great institute for placement oriented students. Being in the national capital surrounded by IT hubs of north India i.e. Noida and Gurgaon results in great placements. IIT Delhi has 4 programmes for CS students. MCS is the flagship programme which is M.Tech in Computer Science. JCA is an interdisciplinary programme run by maths department along with CS department which is Computer Applications. Computer Technology(EET) programme is another interdisciplinary course run by EE and CS departments. Placements are great in all these programmes. VDTT i.e. VLSI Design: Tools and Technology is also a great programme for people with inclination towards electronics. It has very high paying placement offers. Apart from this there is also MS but it has a very few seats.
The admission to all these courses is through an interview. There is no written test. You are shortlisted through GATE score and have to crack an interview to get into these. VDTT course also involves an interview with your sponsoring company which will pay all your fees and other expenses during your M.Tech and you may even get PPO(pre placement offer) if you perform well.
In 2011 cut off for MCS and MS have been GATE score 760. For other courses it was lesser. In JCA 750 was the cutoff for interview and 850 and 75% or 8.5 GPA would get you a direct admit in JCA. For VDTT the cut off for CS was 700. For EET too the criteria was similar to JCA. All courses have great placements but preference wise you should opt for MCS>JCA>EET. And if you want to do something in VLSI field then VDTT is a great option.
IIT Delhi has world class faculty for Algorithms. Prof. Naveen Garg is renowned in this field. Moreover Computer Networks, Computer Vision and Graphics are great here with very good professors. If you are interested in Databases then IIT Delhi is not for you because no good professors for databases are there.
Those who want to know about JCA may read this blog post written by an alumni of M.Tech CS at IIT Delhi who is currently working for Amazon: 

Or this blog post by a current student of JCA

IIT Madras
IIT Madras offers only direct admissions based on GATE score. In first list upto 101 rank people were called. The cut off for 2nd list was rank 155 and in 3rd list it went above 175. IIT Madras has great placements being near Bangalore and Hyderabad. It is considered very good for Computer Architecture and High Performance Computing. Also Computer Networks, Cryptography, Network Security are considered good here. I got admission in IIT Madras. I'll post more about IIT Madras when I get there and get to know the institute more. There is also a second phase of registrations in IIT Madras if the seats are vacant after fourth offer. People upto rank 500 are advised to register for it and who haven't got any other IITs yet, may get spot admission offers.
IIT Madras has one of the finest campuses in India and it is run in collaboration with German government. Some students also get opportunities for DAAD fellowships. Many north Indian students don't opt for it because of confrontation with newer culture, language and food style. But, I don't think these things are problems. After all, we should experience different kinds of lifestyles during our life and adapt the good traits from wherever possible :-) Moreover, as far as I know IIT Madras has north Indian mess for people who are scared of food changes.

IIT Kharagpur
Most students with top ranks don't like to opt for IIT Kharagpur citing that the quality of faculty is not as great as the top 4 IITs for M.Tech in CS. IIT-KGP is one of the best institutes in the country for B.Tech in various engineering streams. I don't have much details about it. The admission process is through interview. 70% weightage is given to GATE score and 30% to interview performance. Many people don't want to go to Kharagpur because it is a very small city and doesn't extend much after the IIT. So you can't enjoy the lifestyle of Delhi, Bombay, Chennai and Bangalore.

IIT Roorkee & Guwahati
These two institutes are the new institutes. IIT-G was setup in 1995 and IIT Roorkee got the IIT status in 2001. Most of the top rankers don't want to join these. In Roorkee, Computer Networks is good. Admission is purely based on GATE score(as of 2011). In Guwahati the cut off for written test and interviews was 55 marks in GATE. The placements are good in both these institutes too but not at par with other IITs because of being in locations a bit far from metropolis.

I guess I posted information relevant for people in knowing the institutes and making choices. Please don't ask me what is the average, lowest and highest placement package in a particular institute. I only know one thing that you will reap what you sow. In IIT placements you will be rewarded based upon your caliber.
All the best!