Zerotha- zeroth step towards research

We are a group of independent researchers who run voluntary research group "Zerotha Research". However, there exists no official organization called “Zerotha”, and it is just an initiative to mentor students in NLP and semantic web research.

*There is currently no available slot for a student, please check the website after December 2020. Your email will not be entertained, thank you.*


Announcements: We are eagerly looking to get GPU access for our students living in rural India and Kenya. If your research group or organization can support Zerotha by providing Server credits or access to virtual servers, we will be very thankful (email me on kskuldeepvit (AT) Gmail (DOT) com )

Our mission

I founded Zerotha in 2019 to help students in the early phase of their careers who have an interest in doing computer science research (NLP or Semantic Web) but lack guidance or somehow left behind. Zerotha mentors students prior to their formal registration in a renowned research group/university ( or as part of a research lab in the industry).  My colleague Isaiah Onando Mulang' is a mentor and also responsible for managing Zerotha with me. We welcome Harsh Thakkar as a mentor in Zerotha. 

Our Mantra

Give students equal opportunities and mentorship before comparing their skills. After all, evaluation settings should be the same, isn't it?

Core Values

  • Integrity and Ethics ​

  • Equality​

  • Respect for all

  • Hard work

For students

I guide students in my free time on Saturday, considering I am working full time on Weekdays. Zerotha is my spare time activity. The same is true for my colleagues who are part of Zerotha. We always feel happy to guide highly motivated students in early-stage research. Every year starting January, we take two students under our guidance to work with us. We expect students to respect our time and put sincere effort into improving the research skills. The first project will include: guiding you in reproducing an already existing paper without code, etc. Later, we shall see how things go for you and if both have time. Zerotha is a pre-stage of any formal research and involvement in Zerotha is completely informal. Here, idea is to train you in the fundamentals of research methodology- that's it. Normally, our students spend at least 8-12 months in the preparatory project.

Following are the key points of the foundation program:

  • First Phase:

    • The student will be part of a dummy research setup on a mutually agreed topic.

    • In the first two months, a student will be assigned to open Github issues from ongoing research projects by different research groups. 

    • Students will then read papers in two-three related areas. You will then work to reproduce one-two papers and note the findings (little things/issues)

    • After reading the literature and reproducing codes, the student will write a 5-page summary of her/his findings (ACM or ACL format).

    • 90-95 percent of the student drop out in the first phase.

    • The first phase normally takes  3-4 months.

  • Second Phase:

    • Mentors will select one of their already published papers in the domain of student's interest. We maintain a 1:2 (student:mentor) ratio.

    • The student will be taught about the fundamentals of research: mentors will help the student in understanding the background on why they did this work, giving their Mendeley reference list to let the student read related papers. Mentors will then teach how they wrote different sections in the paper, what was their research hypothesis, and how did they formalize it. Help the student in reproducing the work, why to chose a particular research setting, why only Adam optimization? Why a particular dataset, etc.- all the little things which are implicit. The student will work on re-implementing the work after understanding the idea.

    • The student will then write a dummy paper in his/her own language on the idea which mentors were using as a dummy setup. The student needs to submit an 8-page paper (ACM or ACL format) at the end of phase 2. We expect the student to not look at the original published work of the mentors which was used as a dummy setup. Three reviewers will review the paper, and provide the overall accept or reject. In case of rejection, the student is required to submit a second version considering reviewers' comments.

    • 2nd phase normally lasts around 4-6 months.

    • Zerotha students do not work with mentors in any collaboration for an open-source project until they finish the two-phase foundation program that takes around 8-12 months. If you are looking for quick success, Zerotha is not for you. 

  • Special note for students residing in India/Africa/South-East Asia

    • If you come from an underprivileged background or your university is not well known, or you don’t have someone to mentor you in research, please approach us. We expect you to have an attitude to learn and put effort, coupled with the hunger for success. For us, a student is neither intelligent nor under-performer, it’s just a matter of time and effort put into improving your skills. If communication in English is an issue for you, we speak Swahili, Gujarati, Hindi, and Marathi (if this helps).

Before you approach us, you need to do a pre-requisite:

  • Try making following code up and running: DCA

  • Ideally, reproduce the results (it's reproducible). If not, List down the steps which you tried and why it did not work. List down your errors and steps you took to resolve those errors. Send us a Github link listing your effort. Also, write a two page summary of the paper and attach it in the email.

  • Send us your Github link having previous open-source implementations. Strong coding skill is a mandatory requirement. We point you to the following video which we believe you must see as an aspiring researcher: Link

  • Your email without the above two steps will not be entertained. 

For Companies/Professors 

  • I often see companies and professors looking for hardworking talent. On the other side, several motivated students wanted to do research but lack initial guidance. We try to fill this gap to mentor students at their zeroth ​step towards research. Hence, before they come to you, students are prepared for new research challenges in a renowned research group or a company. The success stories of our students validate that once provided with an early-stage research ecosystem; any student can write his/her own success story. We are just a catalyst. Feel free to approach me in case you seek a PhD student/intern in the domain of semantic web, NLP, and machine learning. I can connect with you some of the brightest students I know or mentor directly.

My past students

I have mentored the following students in different capacities (few were part of Zerotha):

  • Arun Sethupat (2017-2018), next position: Applied Scientist in Microsoft, Seattle. 

  • Ahmad Sakor (2016-2017), next position: PhD student in L3S Research Center, Hannover.

  • Mohamad Yaser Jaradeh, next position: a PhD student in L3S Research Center, Hannover

  • Anery Patel (2019),*** next position: intern in TIB, Hannover, Germany

  • Akash Kulkarni (2018), next position: Microsoft, Seattle as Software Engineer.

  • Akhilesh Vyas (2017-2018), next position: TIB Hannover as Senior Research Developer (co-supervised in the master's thesis)

  • Akmal Khikmatullaev (2017-2018), next position: Diamant GmbH, Germany as Data Scientist (co-supervised in the master's thesis)​


  • Manoj Prabhakar (2019-2020),*** next position: Cerence GmbH, Aachen as an R&D intern

    • Manoj is now looking for a PhD position in NLP and applied machine learning. His research work is a new SOTA for entity linking on all standard datasets (CoNLL-AIDA, T-rex, etc). Please feel free to approach him in case you seek a bright PhD student.

  • Chaitali Prabhu (2019-2020),*** next position: Machine Learning Developer, Arvato GmbH, Baden Baden, Germany

  • Kunal Khatri (2019), next position: masters student at NYU, USA

  • Saprem Shah (2019), next position: Software Engineer in Amazon, India


***Zerotha alumni

Want to be a mentor with Zerotha?

If your personal vision is aligned with Zerotha and willing to be a part of our mission, please approach me to be a mentor. ​ You must be either enrolled in a Ph.D. program (with at least one A or A* peer-reviewed paper as the first author) or you hold a doctoral degree.