Retired RCU professor sets up charity institute to train young people in math

While most college teachers seek a relaxed post-retirement lifestyle, here’s a teacher who is actively championing the cause of the math job in his evening years.

Tamraparni Venkatesh, who retired as a professor in the mathematics department of Rani Channamma University, established a charitable institute to popularize mathematics and train young people in advanced trends in this field.

The Belagavi Institute of Mathematical Sciences, which he established with his friends in 2002, has been organizing seminars and workshops for 20 years, celebrating events related to eminent mathematicians and organizing university sessions and research programs of third cycle for doctoral and post-doctoral students. “MSIB has run several workshops in schools to take the fear out of math by showing that it can be fun and easy, if they are interested in it,” Prof Venkatesh said.

The theme of this year’s research program is Geometry, topology and combinatorics. MSIB has aligned several programs in this direction.

IISc’s Harish Sheshadri inaugurated a 16-week immersed learning program. Besides geometry, topology and combinatorics, the program covers theoretical concepts from physics and computer science. Up to five students pursuing a doctorate will receive a financial incentive to attend. At the end of the course, they will receive a certificate which will add value to their bio data.

Recently, four IISc researchers traveled to Belagavi to give online lectures in advanced areas of mathematics to graduate and postgraduate students.

“MSIB alumni contacted Ken Ono, a Japanese-born mathematician currently at the University of Virginia, USA. He is a number theorist who built his work on the number theory of Srinivasan Ramanujan. Professor Ono, who is a visiting professor at IIT Gauhati, has agreed to be his honorary professor at MSIB. He assured us that he will visit Belagavi and address the students,’ Prof Venkatesh said.

Professor Venkatesh and his friends wanted to create a university institute on the model of the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Prayagraj (Allahabad) and the Chennai Mathematical Institute.

The opportunity arose during his visit to the United States. He taught mathematics at Corning Community College in New York as a Fulbright Scholar in the Scholar in Residence program. “A visit to Paulo Alto inspired me to start the institute at my home in Belagavi, he says.

One day I visited a small office on the corner of a mall in Paulo Alto. I learned that the mall owner was a science and math lover. He had created a center with free access to a library and a reading room for students. I spent half a day at the center and decided to create a charity institute for mathematics. I started with meager resources, but made a commitment to dedicate ten percent of my annual income to this purpose. Now we have alumni in various prestigious places around the world,” he said.

“The MSIB also organizes the cycle of lectures on the history of mathematics. Senior mathematicians like SG Dani from Mumbai gave the lectures. During the lockdown, we held online conferences,” Deputy Director J. Venkat Ramana Raju said.

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