Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Social Impact of Computer Vision : Urban Landscapes

Below, is the essay that I submitted to the International Computer Vision Summer School (ICVSS), 2012, essay competition. I chose the following topic:

Topic 1: Urban Landscapes
The beneficial use of surveillance and computer vision to achieve safer and more secure urban environments justifies the privacy risks. Discuss.

$300,000$ cameras were watching the visitors of the $2008$ Beijing Olympics. There is an estimated one CCTV camera for every $14$ people in the UK. An average Briton passes under $300$ cameras a day. Such``staggering" statistics is bound to be a common feature in most of the developed cities of the world. These cameras capture your face, identify the emotion behind them, follow you as you walk along the streets, track your actions, and store them all in a database that can be accessed at any point of time in the future. Is such a level of surveillance a necessity, or is it just plain infringement of privacy?
Ever since the gruesome attacks on September $11$, $2001$, there has been a wide-ranging debate over the beneficial use of surveillance and the extent to which an individual has to forgo his/her personal privacy for the sake of national security. The threat of terrorism, and the magnitude of disaster caused by terrorist attacks on urban landscapes, has forced government institutions to rethink their security strategies and lean towards more sophisticated surveillance mechanisms. The nature of these attacks means that every urban community, and country at large, has to be ready for such attacks well in advance. Having disaster management strategies that come into effect after an attack has taken place is inadequate. The most obvious pre-emptive technique that one can think of is public surveillance, and it is hard for one to argue against its benefits.
Back in the days when terrorism was not that big a threat, there were other dangers that people wanted protection from. Villages, and towns, appointed guards to look out for stray wild animals and thieves. As industrial revolution helped towns expand into cities, the effectiveness of localized guards started diminishing and hence there was a need for the establishment of a more coordinated city police. As cities expanded further, people started looking towards more technologically advanced, and automated, surveillance technologies that augmented the traditional police. Today, a CCTV camera is present almost everywhere. There are cameras in supermarkets, schools, lifts, banks, libraries, subways, highways, and, people are even installing CCTV cameras at their homes!
The origins of surveillance are well-founded and there is no doubting its effectiveness. Security cameras help stop crime, and that is a fact. The very presence of a security camera instills fear among the public and prevents them from committing crime. While a CCTV camera can catch a shoplifter red-handed, a speeding camera can identify over speeders. A recent example of the beneficial use of CCTV cameras is its current use in London. The hundreds of CCTV cameras installed in the city are helping the police arrest the people who sparked, and participated in, the Tottenham riots.
With the acknowledgement of the benefits of public surveillance, we are left to decide if its merits outweigh the demerits. The biggest hurdle in the path of surveillance technologies is that they are perceived to be invaders of personal privacy. We have debates that are designed to question whether the benefits of surveillance justify this apparent invasion. The very fact that we are trying to pitch in security versus privacy suggests an acceptance on our parts that one has to give way to the other. Rarely does anyone ask why this has to be so. As Bruce Schneier, a computer security specialist, argues in his article \cite{bruce}, ``Security and privacy are not two sides of an equation", and they never should be! Why should the enhancement of public security account to us forgoing our personal privacy? The debates should not be about whether or not surveillance justifies privacy risks, but should be about how to make automatic surveillance fall within the constitutional realms of a country.
Benjamin Franklin cautioned more than two centuries ago saying, ``they that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." While the quote might look extreme in current context, the spirit of the comment is what matters. Personal privacy is one's fundamental right, and any amount of surveillance should not deprive us off it. Technology has a lot of good to offer, if used in a proper way. The unfortunate fact about technology is that it is very easy for someone to misuse it. Hence, we need strong governmental regulations, which regulate the use of public data. We need to identify a method of providing security and respecting one's privacy. This can be done by rewriting our laws and redesigning our systems.
Laws that we have today were crafted decades ago, when the dynamics of the world was vastly different from what it is today. Laws are not keeping pace with the rate at which technology is growing. Moreover, many current day systems are designed with hardly any thought given towards security and the protection of the users' rights. When they are later found to be lacking in security, the holes are ``patched". When security is tacked on an already designed and functioning system, the method of achieving it is usually invasive from a privacy perspective. Invasive patches are thought of as the only solution to make the systems more secure, and that is the reason why we have people believing that they have to abandon their privacy for vague promises of security. What we are not being told is that we can have both. If security and privacy are incorporated into the architecture from the beginning, it can lead to a mutually reinforcing system from the perspective of operations, security, and privacy \cite{clarke}.
Not only should there be a rethinking of the system, but the authorities who handle our data should also take steps to exude a sense of trust among the public. People are currently wary of the government and third party institutions snooping into their personal data, and suspect them of misusing their power. Sadly, not many steps are being taken to reduce this trust deficit. There is already a lot of information being collected, and stored, without one's knowledge. The EZ cards installed in your cars tell the system where you are traveling, the mobile phone that you carry allows telephone companies to triangulate you, the credit/debit card payments that you make allow the card-issuing companies to look into the commodities that you buy, your work computer can keep track of your browsing history, and now, CCTV cameras follow you as you walk down the road.
Is it actually necessary for someone to collect so much personal data? Collecting tons of data, using the above means, usually serves no purpose. Focused data collection should be the norm and not broad surveillance of everyone. A lack of focused data collection boils down to a lack of planning during the system's architecture design. Privacy is something that does not naturally occur in most systems; they must be deliberately architected. System designers should be made aware of the importance of protecting an individual's privacy. Systems should be developed such that they analyze the data and keep only the most relevant part of it. In addition, once the data has served its purpose, it should be deleted and not stored in databases, indefinitely.
Most digital data that is generated is hard to wipe out. More and more of our online communications are becoming less ephemeral. Google, for instance, stores all your emails, chats, and, browsing and search history. We do not want this to be happening during video surveillance. People feel violated if their personal information is taken without their permission. Misuse of data has become easy, as normal constitutional protections do not apply to a lot of the digital world. While a police might need a court-issued warrant to search someone's home, or tap into someone's phone conversation, they can easily issue a subpoena to a third-party company, asking for data that they have stored about us. Hence, we need to build in mechanisms that would help us identify who is looking at the data and assure the public that their data is not being misused. We need to ensure that the world does not become a large security area, where the slightest joke, made years ago, lands us in a soup.
If history is anything to by, it is highly unlikely that the advancements in technology, and thus its use in public life, is going to wane down because of privacy issues. Therefore, we as researchers have a huge responsibility to ensure that the government, or any other third party, does not misuse our innovations and products. As computer vision researchers, we have a special responsibility towards the public, and our children, to build surveillance systems that future generations will be proud of. I feel that there is a necessity to do research keeping in mind societal values, expecting misuse of data, and ensuring that we do everything in our capacity to protect the user's basic human rights. All of this might look like a challenging task. However, we researchers do love a challenge, do we not?

[1] Schneier, B. (2001). Protecting privacy and liberty. In Nature, Nature Publishing Group.
[2] Clark, J.G., Beebe, N.L., Williams, K. and Shepherd, L. (2009) Security and Privacy Governance: Criteria for systems design. In Journal of Information Privacy and Security.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Legend that was Rahul Dravid

"It is better to retire when people ask ‘WHY?’ rather than ‘WHY NOT?’”, said Vijay Merchant, when he was asked why he was retiring, and that is the way it has been with Rahul Dravid. Today, Dravid announced his retirement from all forms of International cricket.

(Photo Credits: The Guardian)

Rahul Dravid has been one of the greatest batsmen to ever play the game of cricket. I, as an ardent Dravid fan, am extremely sad to see him leave. Do I support him because he is a Bangalorean, or because he was a class apart from the rest, or because he is a humble and down-to-earth person, or because he gave it all for his country? I think it is because of all these reasons and many more that words cannot express.

The sound of the ball hitting the willow was the sweetest when it came off Dravid's bat. His impeccable timing of the cricket ball, his perseverance, and his text-book strokes, are somethings that no one can match. The whole world acknowledged his talent. Sadly, his own country didn't do it enough. Unfortunately for him, he was blanketed by the eye-catching Sachin Tendulkar. For me, Dravid, in many ways, is a better batsman compared to Sachin. I was sad when another great of Indian cricket, Anil Kumble, retired from competitive cricket, sadder when Rahul Dravid retired from ODIs, and today, I feel much sadder.

(Photo Credits: Times of India)

People forget the times when he kept wickets for the Indian team. People forget the number of catches he has taken in the slips (one of the toughest places to field on the cricket field). People forget the times when he captained India, at a time when no one else stepped up. And, people forget the times when he has won (and drawn) matches, single-handedly, for India. The stats above, show a staggering difference between his batting average when India won and drew its matches, as compared to the times it lost. Dravid is an unsung hero of Indian Cricket.

Rahul Dravid is a LEGEND.

Thank you Dravid, for the wonderful memories.

Things will move on but it will not be the same without the calming, assured presence of Dravid walking out at the fall of the first Indian wicket. The gentle raising of the bat, the shoulders stretched wide in celebration on reaching yet another landmark, all following his literally sweating bucketfuls, will no longer be on view. Oppositions the world over will rejoice, bowlers will jump with joy in the knowledge that they will not have to work so hard to get a single wicket. Batsmen who had got used to their nicks being gobbled up at slip by the man with the safest pair of hands will sigh in relief, but to a man they will also agree that the game itself will be poorer for his absence.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A critique of Room by Emma Donoghue

Spoiler Alert: Since this is a critique, it is bound to contain some spoilers. If you do not wish to read any spoilers about the book, please look away now.

Room’ is a book that I read recently and loved instantly. I was breaking my head to try and find an apt and succinct description of the novel and did not find any better than the review made by Audrey Niffenegger, author of ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, who said, “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it’s over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.”

Let me try and describe the book in short. It is a story about the relationship between a mother and her five year old son, Jack. Both Jack and his mother, whom he affectionately calls ‘Ma’, are kidnapped by ‘Old Nick’ and locked in a Room. Ma tries to protect her son, who was born in the Room, from ‘Old Nick’, and conceals from her son the fact that they are actually locked inside and that there is a whole wide beautiful world out there to live in. As Jack grows, his inquisitive nature forces Ma to spill out the truth about the Room and the world outside, which Jack, in his innocent way, calls ‘Outside’.

The book then goes on to explain the beautiful relation that a mother has with her son, and the sacrifices that a mother makes for her son. As much as I would like to comment about the beauty of the book, I will not do so because this post is meant to be a critique. If you need a summary of the book, the innocence of Jack, and the problems that the writer must have faced in writing such a book and how she overcame them, have a read here.

Before being critical, I would like to make it clear that I liked the book very much. It is a must read, and it deserves all the fame and accolades that it gets. However, there are some important points that I would like to make, which would have brought the book even more fame and success, like actually winning the ‘Man Booker Prize’, for the year 2010 (The book was a finalist in the competition).

The first point that I would like to make is about the unraveling of the truth. Ma, who had initially kept the secret of the real world from Jack, had to tell him the truth as she could no longer convince the growing and questioning Jack. The book does not give much importance to the unraveling. Very little space is given to the part where Ma lists out the truth about the things in real world. It would have been nice if the author had expanded this section of the book by showcasing, in much more detail, the hard-to-believe emotion of Jack. Jack finds it hard to believe when Ma tells him that there is a real world outside. He thinks that Ma is lying to him.

The ‘Room’ part of the story ends half way through the book. (Spoiler alert). Jack and Ma escape from the Room after they successfully execute their escape plan. This part of the book was extremely thrilling and scary. It was just un-put-down-able. For me, the book ended the moment they escaped. The fact that the book was called ‘Room’ and that there was nothing about the Room, after the escape, was hard to take.

The second half of the book explained about how Jack copes with living in Outside. Jack finds it hard to accustom to the outside life. Everything seems new and strange to him. There are a lot of questions going on in his head and he does not have answers to most of them. He does not understand why his public display of innocence is cute, and hence funny for the adults. He does not understand how he could have a book, ‘Dyllan the Digger’, and still find it in a store (he thinks there is just one copy of everything). He does not understand why paparazzi are like vultures, and many other such things that are commonly understood by people living in the Outside.

While all this was happening, there is very little mention of Ma. For me, the story is as much about Ma, as it is about Jack. The fact that she lived all alone in the Room, before the birth of Jack, has been overlooked. She mentions how not a single day had passed without her thinking about escaping, how she had made different plans, of which none were successful. The book would have got more 'meat' if Emma had explained about the plans that Ma had made when the character was locked up in Room all by herself.

The reunion of Ma with her mother was hardly given any importance. After spending seven years, away from her parents, there was not much joyous interaction between Ma and her parents. I would have liked to see a happy reunion between the two.

Apart from these points that I have listed out, I felt that the book was very well written. It captured the innocence of a child very well. Extreme effort must have gone into the writing of this book and I applaud Emma Donoghue for doing a good job for most of the book.

P.S. Certain mid-sentence capitalizations are intentional. It is not a typo or a grammatically wrong sentence. If you have read the book, you will know what I mean.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is being selfless actually being selfish?

As paradoxical as the title of this post may sound, it is actually true! Every now and then when you perform a selfless act by helping an old man cross the street, or helping a student pick up the books that he/she has just dropped, or any such thing, and come about feeling great that you have helped someone, the fact is, internally, you are actually being selfish. You just don’t know it.

To make sense of the previous paragraph, we need to go back a couple of centuries or so. Charles Darwin, a naturalist, made a revolutionary claim that we were not created by God, but we are a product of evolution. I guess every sane person accepts that we are here because of evolution, but the question about God’s existence will be debated until the physicists find the ‘Theory of Unification’. This post is not to discuss about the existence of God, but to make sense of evolution.

Evolution is a process where a living being continually adapts itself to the surrounding environment in order to survive, and the adaptation is carried on down the generation time line resulting in a whole range of organism that we see today. You and I are not special, we are just apes! Technically, Homo Sapiens are the 5th ape. We are more closely related to chimpanzees than horses are to donkeys. Whether you like being called an ape, or not, you are one. Darwin stated that the aim of the organisms is just one, survival. And only the fittest of the organisms survive. Unfortunately, during his era, nobody knew about the DNA structure or the genes that make up a DNA. When Watson and Crick proposed the double helix model of the DNA, a whole new world was opened up for us to explore.

Scientists have analyzed the gene structure of the human beings and many other animals. They describe the genes in our DNA sequence as ‘Selfish Genes’. The role of the selfish gene is to simply act selfish so that it gets to survive, and that it gets propagated down the generation time line. This is totally in conjunction with what Darwin had proposed. The genes in our body modify to each and every external stimulus so that we can survive and our life on earth can continue as long as possible. Scientists have been able to explain the sensation of fear of heights in certain individuals, the need to fight back to defend oneself, the need to groom oneself to look better, and many such attributes in human beings, as being directed by the selfish genes in our DNA sequence. Some of us are scared of heights because they don’t want to fall down and die. Such explanations can be given to most of the emotions that we exhibit. While all these traits sound logical, there has been one aspect of human behavior that the scientists found hard to explain using the concept of selfish gene; the ability of the humans to be kind to other human beings and even other non-humans.

If selfish gene is meant to help you and you alone, why do we perform acts of kindness and help the needy? Why do we even have to protect someone if we know that the race is run only by the fittest? Recently there was a breakthrough and certain scientists have been able to link this trait in humans to the selfish gene. The researchers have proposed that, the act of being kind to another living being will generate a sense of camaraderie among the two, thus helping the former to remain safe from the latter. The former being, will help the latter, hoping that the latter will not hit back on the former when survival comes into question. The latter will develop a sense of guilt and not act selfish towards itself and thus helping the former to survive. That is a whole lot of things that I have said above. Some of you might want to go back and read through the previous paragraph again.

Experiments have shown that even chimps show selfless acts towards other chimps. However, it is not as clear as it is in humans. This emotional trait has been hardwired into our brains and we perform selfless deeds even though we know that we won’t be getting anything in return. The brain has been positively reinforced by being selfless to such a degree that it no longer needs to know that it will get something in return for this act of kindness. Being selfless also shows that the individual has matured a great deal through the evolutionary process. So, the next time you act selfish and do not see why we should be helping out the needy, keep in mind that, you are nothing more than a less evolved CHIMP!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Network Cable Unplugged", but it isn't!

Today morning, when I sat down at my desk and opened the browser to check my mails, I found that my computer was not connected to the internet. I ran the Win 7 trouble-shooter to diagnose the problem. It said "Network Cable Unplugged". I was like "What the...?" I quickly turned over the cabinet to see where the ethernet cable had run off. It was sitting well behaved in its slot. Then what was causing Win 7 to say that the network cable was unplugged?

I checked the socket connection on my wall to see if the other end of the cable had been disturbed. It was also tightly lodged into its socket. I asked Win 7 for a detailed description of the problem and this is all it could say, "Network cable Unplugged or Broken". Wow, that was descriptive! At least it gave me something new to work with. I replaced the ethernet cable to see if the original cable had any loose-connections in it. Unfortunately, the new cable was also of not much help. The same "error" kept occurring.

Well, if the ethernet cable was not faulty, then was the wall socket faulty? I tested that by connecting the cable to another free slot and still Win 7 said, "Network Cable Unplugged". But it wasn't! Like any other trouble-shooter, I resorted to restarting my machine, and checked if that helped. No, it didn't.

Suspicious that it might be a Windows related problem, I booted into Ubuntu to check if the same problem persisted over there. Not so surprisingly, I was able to connect to the internet without any problems. So, at least the problem was narrowed down to its source. Buggy WINDOWS 7.

Now that I had the power of the internet, I plunged into the World Wide Web to find a solution for this "problem". Not many articles talked about this problem. The few of them that did were happy to stay working with Ubuntu. Sadly, I could not do that. Some of the applications that I require, do not run on Ubuntu, or at least, requires a lot of work to make them run on the Linux flavour. Finally, I came across a forum with a user who had faced the same problem. His "solution" to rectify the problem is given below.

1. Shut down your PC.

2. Unplug the power cord.

3. If you have a laptop, remove the battery as well.

4. Walk away from the problem for at least 30 minutes.

5. When you return, reconnect battery and power cord.

6. Start as usual.

7. If this solves the problem, take 20 minutes and post this to all of those message boards that you didn't find the solution to.

I seriously laughed aloud at the above set of "instructions". What else do you expect a computer science engineer, researching in computer science, to do, when he/she reads such instructions? The instructions looked ridiculously stupid and not worth trying. Therefore, I spent 30 more minutes searching for "proper" instructions to solve the problem. Sadly, I didn't find any. I was seriously frustrated at this point. So, I thought, "well, there is nothing to lose in trying out the above instructions", and gave it a shot.

I shut down my PC and unplugged the cord. My PC is a desktop machine so point #3 does not apply. I also walked away from the problem (it was lunch time and I was feeling hungry). When I returned (35 minutes since I left, to be precise), I connected the power cord and started the machine.

Well, I guess all of you have already expected what the outcome was going to be. Let me swallow my pride and tell you, the bloody thing worked! I was able to connect to the internet in Windows 7. I was lost for words when the minimalist Google page loaded when I opened my Chrome browser. I was literally scratching my head wondering what shutting down the PC for 35 minutes could have done that restarting didn't.

The only logical solution that I can come up with is that, shutting down the PC and unplugging the cord from the socket would have earthed some stray eddy currents that had accumulated on the chipset. I cannot think of anything else. MS needs to look into their network drivers and try to make it more robust to eddy currents.

Finally, since the instructions worked, I could not help but follow the final instruction in the list. I have taken 45 minutes to compile this blog post in hope that it will help someone else with the same problem.

P.S. If anyone else has any logical reason for the above solution, please leave them in the comments section.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How Do You Change The Indian Political System?

Recently, I came across a video, which was shared by a friend of mine, on Facebook. The video was from a news channel in Bangalore that had invited two politicians to debate about the performance of the current government in Karnataka. One politician was from Congress and the other was from BJP. I won’t take names as I feel they are not worthy enough to be named. Below is the video of the debate and I would like you to have a look at it before reading further.

Well, those of you who know Kannada would have understood what was going on, and those of you do not follow Kannada, would still have known what was going on. There was total chaos in the studios. The news reporter was trying his level best to stop the two from fighting. But, all his efforts went in vain.

If you were from India, you would know that this is a common occurrence and would have thought that these two politicians are corrupt rogues, who are trying to throw mud on each other's party and prove to the public that their personal parties are the "best". You probably are right.

The politician from congress started the "debate" well by questioning the functionality of the BJP by asking what they had done for the development of the state. Since the questions hit the nail on the head, the politician from BJP tried to "elevate" his party's status by trying to demean the congressman and his party. He even went onto brandish personal abuse, which infuriated the politician from congress even further, resulting in a full-fledged verbal abuse.

Why is Indian politics in such a bad condition? Why aren’t there good leaders at the state level? Why aren’t the leaders giving importance to developmental activities? While searching for some "good" politicians, I came across one, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, a well-educated politician from Andhra Pradesh. The answers to the above questions were answered by him in part. Below are two videos where he talks about the changes that are required to bring forward a healthy political system.

He does talk at a very high level stating the problems that our system is facing. But, what are the solutions to rectify it? The same personnel, who we say are corrupt, are the ones that have to change the system. Will they do it? Of course not! Why would anyone dig their own grave? So, one may ask, what can be the solution?

As Dr. JP mentions in the Q&A session of his talk at Google, there is a need for awareness among the general public and a desire among the same to solve the country's problems. The educated should step into politics and make the change. Of course, not every educated person is ready to step into politics. There is far little number of people who are willing to make the step. Whenever such a daring person steps in, the "big" parties trounce him in the elections because of the money politics that they play. Here is where we come into picture. If you do not want to step into politics, I can totally understand. What I ask of you is to at least vote for the right person. Do not vote for a person just because he/she is from a "big" party. However, the next question is, ‘Whom do you vote for, if the two personnel in the first video stood against each other for a single seat?’ Well, in that case, if you do not find anyone who is capable of leading your constituency, then do not vote for anyone. Make use of the right to NOT VOTE (there is such a provision in the Indian Constitution).

Secondly, the biggest power that we have in our hands is education. If the government does not provide education, many kids will believe that corruption is the only way to be successful and follow in the paths of the current rouges. We cannot rely on the government to provide high quality education. So, it lies in our hands. I say, go out and imbue the importance of education in your neighbours, your friends, your relatives and most importantly, in those poor people, who do not know the value of education. Moreover, follow the rules. Do not bribe. Do not take autos if the drivers demand more than the meter fare. Take the bus. It will also reduce your carbon footprint. Doing such "small" things can have a relatively major impact on the society. I will borrow this statement from Gestalt psychology, "The whole is greater than the sum of parts".

We cannot expect to see a change overnight. It is only in the next generation that we can see the results. In fact, look at some of the educated politicians who are governing our country today. They are doing a very good job. Dr. Manmohan Singh is a great personality. Narendra Modi is a prime example of a politician who believes in education. Yes, he might have made some mistakes during the Gujrat riots and he should be punished for it, if proven guilty. However, look at the way Gujrat is developing under his leadership. We need to produce such leaders. Sadly, such "good" leaders are scarce. And those few that are educated are at the Central level. There is virtually no one at the state level to take care of the basic needs.

I would like to conclude by saying that education is the only way forward. Education will bring about awareness among the public, which in turn will help the common man to make better and justifiable choices. As more and more people get educated, many of these educated personnel will trickle into politics. They will have a better understanding of the system. They will be better able to solve the problems, which will help the country move in the right direction. You have the power. Make use of it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Erdős Number

According to wikipedia, "Erdős number describes the 'collaborative distance' between a person and Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers." So, who is this Paul Erdős and why is his number famous?

Paul Erdős was a famous mathematician who had an enormous output of mathematical papers. Because of his enormous output, his friends created a metric as a tribute to him. According to this metric, Paul Erdős gets the Erdős number 0. Anyone who has co-authored a paper with him gets an Erdős Number 1. Anyone who has co-authored a paper with a person having an Erdős Number 1 and not directly with Paul Erdős, gets an Erdős Number 2 and so on.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, I believed that I had an Erdős Number of 4! I recently wrote a paper with my Professor, Dr. Ramakrishna Kakarala, who has an Erdős number of 3. This got me excited! The complete tree being: Vittal -> Kakarala -> Kelttee -> J. H. Straight -> Erdős. Therefore, my Erdős Number should be 4, right?

If you were a keen reader, you would have observed that I mentioned "I believed" and not "I believe". The reason being, I was wrong! I do not have an Erdős Number of 4 though I have collaborated with my professor who has an Erdős Number of 3. I missed a crucial part of the definition of the Erdős Number. "Erdős number describes the 'collaborative distance' between a person and Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers." There you have it. Sadly, the paper that I wrote was not a mathematical paper. For a paper to be a mathematical paper, it has to be published in journals or conferences dedicated to mathematics.

Its funny how people can go from a state of euphoria to a state of despondency within a matter of seconds! Ah, but this is life...