Team Spotlight - Roshan Dathathri

By: Katana Graph

January 21, 2022

Team Spotlight - Roshan Dathathri

Roshan Dathathri leads the Graph Engine team at Katana Graph. His team is responsible for building the computation and communication engine that processes graphs efficiently on large clusters.

What drew you to Katana Graph originally? And how has Katana Graph evolved since?

Roshan Dathatri: During my Ph.D., I built a scalable communication engine for distributed graph analytics. When my Ph.D. advisor Keshav told me that he was planning to start a company and that my work had laid the foundation for it, I was excited to get on board to build on top of my work and help customers solve their big problems. Since then, we have adapted our scalable computation and communication engine to support graph querying and graph AI on large datasets.

You’ve done a lot of work in the past on optimizing compilers and runtime systems for distributed and heterogeneous architectures. Did that lead directly into your current work at Katana Graph?

RD: Yes. Most of what I’ve worked on then either leads to what I work on now or is exactly what I’m working on and what I’m building upon — building upon what I did, for example, in my Ph.D. at the University of Texas. Now I’m making the earlier graph processing bigger and adding more features to it. There’s compiler work involved, runtime system work involved, and building scalable, distributed, high-performance systems. All skills that I’ve learned, and skills that are useful. I’m happy to actually use them for something that people are using. We have a lot of good customers and it’s exciting to look at their challenges and try to solve real problems.

What are three words to describe Katana Graph?

RD:Kaizen” (or continuous improvement) and “onwards and upwards” are our mantras at Katana Graph. We strive to improve continuously.

Is “onwards and upwards” a part of the Kaizen approach?

RD: I think it’s part of the same thing. But, “onwards and upwards” is also used in terms of a positive outlook. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Keshav. He always looks at the positive side of things.

Can you tell me a little bit about the aspects of a company or team where continuous improvement might be especially beneficial?

RD: One aspect is collaboration. As we grow, I think the thing to make sure is that we’re all collaborating and that there is good communication.

What is your favorite part about working for Katana Graph?

RD: I work with a smart and talented team to solve challenging problems for our customers.

How do you see your customers’ challenges evolving over the next five years?

RD: I think there is usually a chicken and egg problem. Let’s take AI for example. There are models that people are currently using, and there is some performance that they get out of it. The chicken and egg problem is: do they want larger models? Or are these models sufficient? The reason that they cannot use larger data and get deeper insights is because of the limitations of the existing tools. And so, once we have tools which provide them with more flexibility to handle lots of data and provide deeper insights within a short amount of time, I think they’re going to go with larger and larger data.

As the data becomes very big, doing AI and learning insights from that is more challenging. But our solutions are geared towards solving such things.

Are you messy or organized?

RD: Organized.

Do you think being organized was learned, or were you born with it?

RD: I think it was learned. Definitely learned!

My dad was very organized. He was much more organized than me, I would say. But I think the other thing which had a huge influence in my life was that in India they have camps that have no equal in summer camps here, but are something like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. We used to go and work for a couple of weeks. I think that brought more self-discipline and organization into my life.

It’s helped in my day-to-day life, keeping notes, making sure that email is organized. Most of the organization now has switched from physical stuff to digital stuff. Being organized in terms of emails, in terms of communication, and other things like that.

Favorite travel spot or best vacation you’ve been on?

RD: I love backpacking and hiking. My wife and I visited National Parks in Utah during our week-long vacation a few years ago. Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Canyonlands were distinct and beautiful. Our hikes in these parks were memorable.

When you’re backpacking and hiking, do you enjoy clearing your head and enjoying the moment? Or, are you looking for inspiration — designing applications and solutions in your mind?

RD: I think it’s mostly the former. But sometimes it just depends. Sometimes if some problem is sitting in the back of my head, I start thinking about it and solving it. It works both ways, I think. But mostly the former. It’s also about company. If it’s just me and my wife, we talk. If I go with friends, as well, it’s about talking or playing games.

Where to, next?

RD: I plan to go to the Utah/Arizona area, maybe the Grand Canyon, this fall.

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights?

RD: No, but I want to! They’re on my bucket list.


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