Sujatha Ramdorai

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A profile

From the archives of India Today

She is a professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai


Ph.D from TIFR/Bombay University.

Lives for

Understanding the beauty in mathematical results, like Fermat’s last theorem.

Why she believes children should study maths

Because it’s so humbling. One is confronted by the big picture, which is partially a mystery, yet one glimpses some tantalising parts.

She is one of India’s finest mathematicians and when you ask her what it entails, she says “it’s long periods of sitting by yourself, grappling with a problem, with paper and pencil in hand”. And yet, Sujatha Ramdorai is a great proponent of mathematics as a useful tool in daily life, for instance, calculus in control theory and absolute mathematics in mobile communications.

“The problem in India is that nerds are not cool, but geeks are,” she says with a laugh. Belying the myth that mathematics is a male domain, she says 10 per cent of the department at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) is female though she admits that there is little connect between the top research institutes, the colleges and schools.

As winner of the 2006 Ramanujan Prize given to young mathematicians in developing countries by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy, her significance lies in not only sexing up her subject, routinely feared by students, but also in working for its popularisation when she was at the National Knowledge Commission.

-by Kaveree

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