The Journey of AI Expert Prof. Anup Nandy To BRICS Young Scientist Conclave 2020

The Journey of AI Expert Prof. Anup Nandy To BRICS Young Scientist Conclave 2020

Utkarsh Singh Chaitanya Kumar | Oct 19, 2020

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NIT Rourkela fraternity has time and again established their dominance in academic and research prowess. It is a matter of great pride that one of the faculty members, Prof Anup Nandy from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering represented India at 5th BRICS Young Scientist Conclave-2020, Russia.

The conclave that presents a platform to young scientists from the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) for collaborations - was based on three themes this year: Artificial intelligence, Ecology and Material Science. Prof. Nandy was one among six Indian scientists from the field of Artificial Intelligence who made it to the prestigious conclave. The young scientists were selected by the Department of Science and Technology for representing the country. The conclave was organised by the National Research University, South Ural State University, Russia in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation and the Secretariat of the Russian BRICS STI Cooperation Council. With the ongoing pandemic situation, the conclave was held through online mode.

Prof. Nandy, who joined the institute in 2016, has been adorned with several awards and research grants. He has received Early Career Research Award from SERB, Govt. Of India in 2017, Nvidia GPU Grant Award in 2018 for his pioneering research on human gait analysis. He has also received research funding for Indo- Japanese joint research project, funded by DST, Govt. Of India. He along with PhD scholar Joyeeta Chakraborty and some other students developed a software tool to detect neurological disorders like cerebral palsy. Using sensors, a wearable device and techniques of AI, the device can detect the disorders by analysing the gait (walking pattern/ manner) of its user.

Team Monday Morning had the opportunity to have a tete-a-tete with Prof. Nandy and gain insights into his research and his experience of the recently concluded conclave.

Monday Morning: Throw some light about your research work that led you to the BRICS Conclave. What is the background of the software that you have developed? How will the software help in the treatment of neurological disorders?

Prof. Anup Nandy (AN): My research interest lies in the areas of application of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. I, along with my PhD scholar Joyeeta Chakraborty and some other students, have developed a visualisation based assistive software tool for clinical human gait analysis. It took us one year to develop it, and now we have applied for copyrights.

At the BRICS conclave, I addressed the participants on two topics-understanding the human cognition through motion analysis and the software tool. AI techniques can be used for understanding human brains through motion analysis or in technical terms human gait analysis. A person's manner of walking depends on the anatomical structure of the brain and is different for everyone. It varies according to various parameters such as height, weight, age, gender, etc. The tool predicts the gait abnormality and can be used to detect spastic gait commonly seen in cerebral palsy patients. We apply AI techniques such as convolution neural networks along with LSTM based models for this purpose. It is based on binary classification, 0 and 1. If 1 is the signal being passed, then the tool will apply numerous pre-processing techniques starting from the cycle extractions, event detections, and feature extraction. Then it will tell whether the gait is normal or abnormal. It is a web application tool and does not require any high-end software. We have used Microsoft Kinect device as vision sensors for gait analysis. It is very cost-effective, and through this, people can access their gait analysis at the comfort of their homes. We have also used a low cost custom-designed wearable IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) sensor. The sensor accommodates an SD card where the data gets stored directly. We are planning to upload the tool on Github after copyrighting. The demonstration of the tool is present on Youtube. Also, one can explore my research lab at mibmnit.in.

MM: When you started with software development, did you think of taking it to such a conclave?

AN: No, we actually didn't think the same. The last day for applying was in mid of August. We just wanted others to know how we have planned our software, what we are using and how it can be helpful in the clinical analysis domain. This was the main reason why we chose to apply.  When I was applying for the conclave, I presented my past research which might have interested the selecting team. 

MM: What role did your PhD student have in this project?

AN: Presently, I am supervising 5 PhD scholars, and among them, 3 are working in this specific domain. PhD scholar Joyeeta Chakraborty and I have developed this tool. Her focus is on deep neural network architectures by using AI techniques. She is concentrating on two populations, one is cerebral palsy patients, and the other is autistic people. We have collaborated with various institutes to get actual data which are crucial to build accurate predictions using deep neural networks. We are also working to develop recovery prediction. It has high application in sports and athletics. The work is ongoing in this regard, and so far, we have published one article on it.

MM: Share with us your experience at BRICS Young Scientist Conclave 2020.

AN: The BRICS Young Scientist Conclave is a one-time golden opportunity for PhD scholars, Post-doctoral fellows and young faculty members to present their research at such reputed international platform. Even though due to pandemic, the conclave got shifted to virtual mode, we had an opportunity to interact with various participants and moderators from BRICS nations. Provisions were made by the organisers, the South Ural University, Chelyabinsk, Russia, for the participants to explore the different advanced labs that they had. The 5-day conclave had various technical sessions, quizzes every day and it had an innovative competition named Science Standup Battle. One has to present their idea in terms of animation or story within 7 minutes.  

MM: Was the conclave fruitful in terms of getting opportunities for future collaborations?

AN: Yes, during the five-day sessions, everyone was sharing their ideas and project. During the virtual meeting, I came across two professors (one from Russia and other from China) who are working in the same domain. We are discussing collaborations. This would be great if everyone agrees.

MM: What are your views on the role of artificial intelligence to healthcare application?

AN: Healthcare is a vast domain and has a lot of potential for the application of AI and IoT in it. The expert system is one of the early development of AI. For example, one of the best systems is MYCIN which was developed at Stanford University in the early 1970s. It is a rule-based expert system. And the rules are acquired from a domain expert.

People are trying to develop better-advanced expert systems such that even in the unavailability of doctors or medical staff, one can through the help of human-computer interactions get themselves diagnosed and get medications for the time being. Artificial intelligence can revolutionise the healthcare sector.

MM: It takes a lot of dedication to continue a project for long. What is your source of motivation which keeps you going ahead with determination? 

AN: When I was in my graduation, I got a glimpse of research. Finally, during my PhD, I developed an interest in such a field. I feel that my research must impact the lives of common people. I always have a zeal to work for the betterment of my country. This always motivates me to invest my energy and time in such research.

MM: What are your further plans? Have you thought of getting a copyright for the software?

AN: We have applied for the copyright, but it was not accepted because there is a rule that first, we have to submit it to the institute, after that the committee will approve and then we can apply for it on the government website. 

MM: What message do you want to convey to students who aspire to have a good academic profile with papers and projects but don't know where to start from?

AN: One needs to find the right inspiration, grab positive energy and channelise it towards their goal. Undergraduate years are one of the most crucial periods of your life, so you must put your sincere efforts. There is a boon in the fields of AI, ML and Data Science. Especially AI has applications in every department, whether it be electrical, civil, or bio-tech. So starting a career in this direction will be very prosperous as it has numerous research areas to explore along with vast applications.

In our institute, students irrespective of departments have shown immense interest and have started working in these areas. For example, ML4E club is exploring the ML domain. One must work hard and explore these fields as it will enhance your academic as well as a professional career.

The invention is reaching the lives of people and has been credible for producing a constructive and healthy change. Team Monday Morning compliments Prof. Anup Nandy and his PhD scholars for their research work and wish all luck for their future endeavours.

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