School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Hyderabad hosted the thirteenth Bhagavatula Memorial Lecture by Prof. M.S. Raghunathan, Chairman of National Centre of Mathematics, IIT Bombay, at the C.V. Raman Auditorium in University of Hyderabad (UoH). The Bhagavatula Memorial Lecture series was constituted by Prof. B.L.S. Prakasa Rao, former Director of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata and retired faculty of the School of Mathematics and Statistics. He started this lecture series in the year 2007, in the loving memory of his parents Bhagavatula Rama Murty and Bhagavatula Saradamba. Since then this has been an annual event hosted by the School of Mathematics and Statistics every year.
Over the years many distinguished mathematicians like Prof. C.R. Rao, Prof. R. Balasubramanian, Prof. Ritabrata Munshi have graced this occasion with their enlightening lectures. This year it was no exception. It will be less to say that Prof. M.S. Raghunathan, who is a Padma Bhushan awardee, a Fellow of the Royal Society, is a distinguished mathematician of the highest calibre. In his lecture Prof. Raghunathan, showed how starting with the notion of unit length, one can construct all the rational numbers using just a ruler and a compass. He also showed that one can in fact, construct square root of any such positive number. In addition, he explained how one can construct nice geometric objects like a regular pentagon, by using a ruler and a compass. As one has very limited tools in disposal, naturally such constructions have limitations. For instance, he showed that it is not possible to trisect any given angle, it is not possible to construct numbers (like √5 2) which are zeros of irreducible polynomial with integer coefficients of degree d, where d is not a power of 2.
Many students from various mathematical background, starting from 1st year integrated students to Ph.D. students were benefited from this lecture and overall the lecture was attended by about 70-80 strong enthusiastic audience. Before the lecture, Prof. B.L.S. Prakasa Rao briefly mentioned about the lecture series. From the School of Mathematics and Statistics Dr. B.G. Manjunath gave the welcome speech, Dr. Biswajyoti Saha introduced the speaker while Dr. M.S. Datt gave the vote of thanks.
While introducing Prof. M. S. Raghunathan, Dr. Saha mentioned that for his great contribution to mathematics and its development in India, in 2012, Prof. Raghunathan was conferred the Padma Bhusan award, which is the third-highest civilian award in India. In 2000, Prof. Raghunathan was inducted as a fellow of the Royal Society. In fact, he is one of the four living mathematicians from India who are fellows of the Royal Society. Besides, he is the fellow of several prestigious scientific societies and academies, like the Third World Academy of Sciences, American Mathematical Society, Indian Academy of Sciences, and many others. In 1977, he was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award, the highest scientific award in India. In 1991, he received the Srinivasa Ramanujan medal, presented by the Indian National Science Academy. During all these achievements, he was a professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. His more than five decades of affiliation with TIFR started in 1960, at the age of 19. By 1966, he was a full professor there. He retired from TIFR in 2006 as a professor of eminence and holds the prestigious Homi Bhabha Chair in TIFR, for another 5 years till 2011.
Prof. Raghunathan has played a very important role in the promotion of Mathematics in India through various scientific bodies, in both advisory and administrative capacities. One of his most important contributions in this regard has been his role in the National Board for Higher Mathematics. He was a member of NBHM since its inception and became Chairman in 1987 and held that position till 2007. After that he is associated to the National Centre of Mathematics, initially as the Head and presently as the Chairman. One of the biggest achievements of his administrative endeavours was to organise the International Congress of Mathematicians 2010 in India, which was hosted by University of Hyderabad.
Prof. Raghunathan has authored several pathbreaking and fundamental research articles, in the most reputed journals like Annals of Mathematics and Inventiones Mathematicae. His book titled ‘Discrete subgroups of Lie groups’ is widely referred and now considered as a fundamental reference in this subject.
-Dr. S. Ilangovan, School of Mathematics and Statistics