End of Another Important Chapter ....

>> Saturday, July 30, 2011

When I joined Axis2 team in August, 2004 I had no intentions or plans on getting into grad school. I can still remember the discussion I had with my good friend Ruchith Fernando in my small car and he managed to initially convince me for grad school. Then with the consistent encouragement and advices from Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana I decided to take the challenge.

I won the Fulbright scholarship but it didn't turn out well in university selections. I was then selected to Indiana University to start in Spring 2007 and Prof. Dennis Gannon accepted me into extreme lab right away. I was fortunate to be a part of extreme lab and to have thoughtful discussions with my colleagues, especially during coffee breaks. Even though it was harder initially to survice with a never experienced harsh winter in Indiana, a 4-months old kid and heavy course workload I managed to get used to the system after a while.

During the summer 2008, with Dr. Gannon moving to Microsoft Research, I decided to join Prof. Beth Plale and her data-to-insight center in fall 2008. With the guidance of Prof. Plale I think I transferred from being a software developer to a researcher over the next few years. The change in thinking I think is one of the most important things I learned in my PhD. Even with her busy timing she could allocate one hour for all her PhD students every week and I think those were really helped me to stay focused and get timely feedbacks on my research. Also the opportunities to directly impact the scientific research, through projects like enabling Vortex2, was some of the greatest experiences I had in the lab.

Life was never easy with a family and to live with the somewhat small monthly stipend (I don't know why CS department pays the least compared to other departments even though most professors are willing to raise student stipends). The three internships that I did, two in Microsoft Research and one in Google MapReduce team, not only helped me financially but also gave me tons of experiences and ideas for my research. From the beginning, me and my wife really liked to go out and see the nature and these three internships really helped us to see lots of places in US. Especially the road trip from / to Indiana state to/from Washington state over 8 days and 7 days with my then three year old daughter was a highlight. The only worry was because of this road trip my kid has to celebrate her 3rd birthday some where closer to Grand Canyon in 105 degrees.

About 5 years of work bore fruit when I successfully defended my thesis on July 25th, 2011.

Acknowledgements

This PhD would have been impossible without the tremendous support from my advisor, Professor Beth Plale, who has supported and encouraged me throughout my study and research. I also want to thank Dr. Dennis Gannon for taking me into extreme lab, advising me during my initial years and also providing me guidance when its needed. I would like to thank my research committee members, Prof. Geoffrey Fox and Prof. David Leake for their valuable comments and suggestions throughout the research.

I also owe my gratitude to all data-to-insight lab members for their support and feedback on different projects I was involved. I also owe my gratitude to all extreme lab members who worked with me during my initial years. I would like to thank the instructors of the courses I took in Indiana University. Knowledge gained in those courses helped me to shape my research direction at numerous occasions.

I also want to thank Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana for introducing me to Apache Software Foundation, helping me to lay a solid foundation in distributed systems and also encouraging me to pursue higher studies. I was very fortunate to have such a mentor at the right stage. I also like to thank Microsoft Research External Computing group, Extreme Computing group and Google MapReduce team for the internship opportunities I got. Those opportunities definitely helped to shape my research and to put my research in perspective.

I also should thank my colleagues in Axis2 team, Sanjiva, Ajith, Srinath, Chathura, Deepal, Jaliya, Glen and Dims. We finally could build something that everyone could make use of and I'm really proud of it. I should also thank my teachers from my college (Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda), lecturers from my undergraduate years in Computer Science and Engineering department in University of Moratuwa and all my friends. Everything I learnt during these interactions helped me to be who I am right now.

Finally, I want to dedicate this achievement to my wife Thushari, my daughter Dihini, my parents and my brother for their continuous support, sacrifices and encouragements. When almost everything were going wrong, they stood behind all my decisions and supported me in everyway they could. Its a real fortune to have such a family.


My Thesis Defense Presentation