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National Mathematics Day- Celebrating Journey of Indian Mathematicians from Zero (0) to infinity (∞)

December 22, 2022 05:56 PM

Mathematics, meaning the science or study of numbers, quantities or shapes, is a powerful tool for global understanding that provides an effective way of building mental discipline. According to Douglas R. Harper, author of the "Online Etymology Dictionary”, the word mathematics is derived from Greek word máthma meaning “that which is learnt”.

Mathematics inculcate logical reasoning, critical thinking, creative thinking, abstract or spatial thinking, problem-solving ability in humans. The December 22nd is being celebrated every year, since 2012, as National Mathematics Day to pay tribute to Srinivasa Ramanujan's achievements and to celebrate his birth anniversary.


In his short life span of 32 years he independently discovered nearly 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations). His exemplary contributions including important Mathematics Theories like Infinite Series, Mathematical Analysis, Number Theory and Continued Fractions etc. which opened new areas of work in mathematics and inspired for further research.

Apart from Ramanujan, there are many Indian mathematicians who have contributed immensely to Science and Mathematics. The invention of zero and treating it as a number and invention of number system are some of the magnificent contribution by Indians as no advancement in mathematics would have been possible without these inventions.

Aryabhata, the great Mathematician and Astronomer, was first to discover that the Earth is spherical that revolves around the Sun and complete one revolution in a span of 365days. Aryabhata calculated value of pi (π) to the fourth decimal digit. Using his spherical astronomy he gave calculations on solar, lunar eclipses. Brahmgupta was another great mathematicians.

His biggest contribution to mathematics was the concept to treat zero (0) as number. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobi, great statistician who was member of Planning Commission of India form 1955 to 1967, devised Mahalanobis Distance and was instrumental in setting Industrialization Policy of India during Second Five Year Plan. Using method of random sampling he calculated crop yields. His Fractile Graphical Analysis was used to compare socio-economic conditions of different groups of people. Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, well-known statistician, invented the theory of estimation. He made many contributions to statistical theory and applications. Indian Mathematician and Physicts Satyendra Nath.

Bose, developed a theory for gas like qualities of electromagnetic radiation in collaboration with Albert Einstein. He established modern theoretical physics in India and made significant advances in statistical mechanics, quantum statistics. Bhaskara, leading mathematician and astronomer, was first to make systematic use of decimal system. Just as in modern algebra, he used letters to represent unknown quantities, solved indeterminate equations of 1st and 2nd degrees and quadratic equations. He is famous for his book “Siddhanta Siromani”. He declared that any number divided by zero is infinity and that the sum of any number and infinity is also infinity.

Highlighting the contribution of Indians in Mathematics, it becomes really important to count upon the contribution of women towards mathematics. Shakuntala Devi Popularly known as “Human computer” was capable of solving enormous calculations without using calculator. She showcased her arithmetical talents around the globe making India proud. Parimala Raman, is known globally for her contribution in the field of algebra, algebraic geometry and number theory.


Neena Gupta, recipient of DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize, has made remarkable contribution in affine algebraic geometry, commutative algebra and in the category of mathematical sciences. Sujatha Ramdorai is another female mathematician who has worked in the areas of the algebraic theory of quadratic forms, arithmetic geometry of elliptic curves, complex geometry, topology, number theory and cryptography.

Mangala Narlikar a bigwig in the field of mathematics, has contributed to complex analysis, analytic geometry, number theory to algebra and topology. Kavita Ramanan made research contribution in the field of great journey through lives of great mathematicians like Aryabhatta and Brahmgupta in the vedic period to Ramanujan and Shakuntla Devi in recent times. However, despite of having available knowledge treasure, the rural populations particularly in remote/tribal/inaccessible areas are still deprived of quality education and basic amenities. The number of students undertaking science and mathematics as their subjects for higher studies are declining every year.

As an effort to popularize science and Mathematics at school level and in order to inculcate a sense of curiosity among such school students, Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology & Environment (HIMCOSTE) every year celebrate National Mathematics Day in collaboration with National Council for Science & Technology Communication, DST, Govt. of India on 22nd December throughout the state right from the school, college to University level.

About 5000 students participate every year in various activities organised such as Mathematical Olympiad, Mathematical Quiz, Poster making, Declamation, Slogan Writing, Essay writing, Technical sessions etc. A large number of students are participating in the events and it is expected that such efforts of HIMCOSTE and Department of Education, HP would bring in expected results in creating a knowledge pool of young researchers and mathematicians.

(The writer is an IAS officer and Director of Science and Technology for the state of Himachal Pradesh )
Lalit Jain

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