The Department of Mathematics and Astronomy came into existence in 1921, when the then Canning College was taken over by the newly constituted Lucknow University. As a unit for conducting teaching and research it has acquitted itself creditably during this period of nearly eight decades. On the teaching side instruction is being imparted to the UG and PG classes. The UG courses have undergone significant changes and form a useful combination of the essentials of the pure and applied mathematics with adequate emphasis on modern approach. The PG courses offer a wide range of specialization in branches of pure and applied mathematics. Facilities exist for advanced work in several modern areas of mathematics which include algebra, analysis, astronomy, geometry and mechanics. Presently, the department has position of twenty-five faculty members.
Headed by Prof. J.A. Strang, the department in its initial stages consolidated and standardized the courses. After a decade of its existence, the Department of Mathematics & Astronomy started enrolling students for Ph.D. The next head Dr. A.N Singh with his profound scholarship and planning revived the dormant Banaras Mathematical Society, which later on became Bharata Ganita Parisad in 1950. He also started a section on Research in Hindu Mathematics. In 1943, the number of UG students was doubled and Statistics was introduced as an optional subject. In 1950, Dr. Singh who was also the Superintendent of Works as well as Dean, Faculty of Science succeeded in constructing the present building of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy. Dr. Singh together with Dr. Sampurnanand, Education Minister of Uttar Pradesh, marked the introduction of Astronomy as subject of study for B.Sc. Degree first time in India. Construction of Planetarium, the first of its kind in India, to augment the teaching of Astronomy, was completed in 1949. The present library of the Department which has vast collection of books and journals along with some rare collection of Monographs and Manuscript is named after Dr. A.N. Singh.
In 1954, Professor Ram Ballabh, the first Ph.D. of the Department, took over as the Head and organized a good team of workers in Hydrodynamics and related areas. Over a score of research students pursued research investigation under his dynamic supervision and guided the destiny of the department. The books written by him for UG students are still very popular among the students and teachers. In 1956, Dr. Ram Ballabh, who was also Superintendent of Works and Dean, Faculty of Science, constructed a new block for Statistics department and Statistics section was transferred there. As a tribute to the great leadership and vision of Prof. Ram Ballabh, the present Computer Lab, equipped with state- of-art computing facility, is named after him. The Department continued to benefit from the stewardship by subsequent heads namely, Professor R.P. Agarwal, Professor M.D.Upadhyay, Professor Kamla .D. Singh, Professor Sunil Dutta Professor G.P. Dikshit. Professor and Aruna Nigam Prof. Ram Nivas is the current head of the department.
The Department of Mathematics & Astronomy has made significant contributions to the advancement of Mathematics throughout last eight decades. The department has gained recognition for its academic standing and research activities when the UGC granted it the COSIST programme in 1992 designed to further the research activities of the department. This programme helped the department in enhancing its research activities to the fullest possible extent. The National Board for Higher Mathematics (NBHM) partially contributes to the upkeep of the A.N. Singh Library every year.
Faculty members of the department have been regularly visiting universities and institutions abroad and in India on visiting appointments and fellowships. They also take an active interest in the development of mathematics education both at university and college level. The department frequently conducts seminars, workshops, conferences, mini schools and refresher courses which are sponsored by agencies such as UGC, NBHM, DST, UPCST, IUCAA etc. The department has been fortunate in having the benefit of visits by eminent mathematicians from all parts of the world. These visitors have interacted with the faculty and provided new inputs to the teaching and research activities of the department. Some of the visitors are among the top mathematicians of the century. They include Seirpinski, Hadamard, G.E., J.N. Srivastava, H.N. Mhaskar, V.J. Narilkar and H.I. Freedman.
The Department of Mathematics and Astronomy of Lucknow University has the distinction of having a center devoted to the promotion of research on Hindu Mathematics- the only center of this kind in Northern India. Late Professor Awadhesh Narain Singh, a reputed mathematicians who had done pioneering research on Hindu Mathematics, established this center in 1939. In the same year Professor Singh revived the dormant Banaras Mathematical Society and brought its office to Lucknow University. The society was renamed Bharat Ganita Parisad in 1950. After doing his Post-graduation from Banaras Hindu University in 1924, Dr. Singh joined the University of Calcutta, which awarded him the D.Sc. degree in 1928. The title of his thesis was “On the construction on non-differentiable functions”. In the same year he was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy, Lucknow University. During his stay in Calcutta, Dr. Singh had come into contact with Dr. Bibhuti Bhushan Dutta, Assistant Professor of Mathematics in Calcutta University, who created in him a deep interest in the history of mathematics, especially the mathematics developed by ancient Hindu mathematicians. Dr. Singh’s researches in this field have been published in about dozen papers and four books . In 1935, in collaboration with Dr. Dutta, he wrote a two volume “History of Hindu Mathematics” which received international acclaim and is considered to be an authentic source book. The first volume deals with history of numeral notations and airthematic, while the second volume is devoted to algebra, a science in which ancient Hindus have made remarkable progress. This book opened up new vistas of Hindu Mathematics for study, comment and exposition by scholars. Thus what started as hobby with Professor Singh became a subject of serious life-long study. He was proud of our academic and cultural heritage and of the achievement of our ancestors in the field of Mathematics. He was of the view that extensive research was necessary to reveal to the world the achievement of Hindu Mathematicians lying hidden in obscure manuscripts. He had also completed a third book dealing with Hindu geometry, trigonometry, calculus and topics such as magic squares, theory of series, permutations and combination,but unfortunately did not live to see its publication. Many years after his death, Dr.Kripa Shankar Shukla, who was associated with him since 1941, revised the material, which was published by Indian National Science Academy in a series of paper. In 1939,UP Government, recognizing the importance of Dr. Singh’s work, sanctioned a research scheme under his supervision with object of collecting, editing, translating and interpreting old text relating to Hindu Mathematics and Astronomy. The task required a thorough knowledge of Sanskrit and other Indian languages together with a deep understanding of mathematics and mathematical process. Dr.Avadh Upadhyaya, Umakant Jha, Murli dhar Thakur, Yogeshwar Jha and Gopal Dwivedi joined him as a research assistant. Valuable manuscript were discovered all over India. In Rajasthan, Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Nepal and the India Office, London.In his life time Prof.Singh acquired copies of 58 manuscripts comprising 52 transcriipts ,3 photocopies and 3 microfilms.Some of these manuscripts are very rare and were discovered by Prof. Singh himself, notable ones being a commentary by Sankarnarayanaon Laghu Bhaskariya and Patiganita. In 1947, he brought out annotated editions of Laghu Bhaskariya and Patiganita with English translations. Based on manuscript of the Patiganita, discovered by Prof. A.N. Singh in Raghunath temple in Jammu, Late Dr. Sabal Singh, Vice-Principal, Balwant Rajput College, Agra was awarded a Ph.D. degree by Agra University in 1950. The topic of his thesis was Hindu mathematics – Sridharacharya and his work. Prof. Singh also collected 5 manuscripts on Mahabhaskariya written by Bhaskar I (629 AD) and based on these Dr. K.S.Shukla , working under his guidance was awarded a D.Lit. Degree by Lucknow University in 1955, a year after death of Dr. Singh. The subject of Dr. Shukla thesis was Astronomy in the seventh century in India: Bhaskar I and his work. In 1954 Professor Singh submitted a proposal to UP Government for publication of the work carried out under the above scheme in a series to be called Hindu Astronomical and Mathematical Texts Series. This was approved by Dr. Sampurnanad the then Education Minister UP. But due to death of Professor Singh , soon after the responsibility of publication fell upon Dr. K.S. Shukla who completed the task with the help of his research assistant Markandey Misra, a scholar of Sanskrit Language and Astronomy. The department published the manuscripts of Surya Sindhanta (1957), Patiganita (1959), Maha Bhaskariya (1960), Laghu Bhaskariya (1963) and Karna-ratna (1979) with English translation and commentaries.
Dr. Shukla proved to be a true heir of Professor Singh. His researches in the field of Hindu Mathematics have been published in the form of two commentaries on Aryabhatta, Vatkeshwar Siddhanta (2 volumes) and Laghu manas by Munjal, besides several research papers. Working under his guidance, Mrs. Usha Asthana (1960), Mukut Behari Agarwal (1973), Parmananda Singh (1978), Loknath Sharma (1983) and Thokio Ohashi (1992) were awarded Ph.D. degrees. To generate wider interest in Hindu Mathematics and to create awareness among mathematicians about the research potentials in this field, two symposia were organized in the department, one on Hindu Mathematics by Professor Ratan Prakash Agarwal in 1976 and the other on History of Mathematics and astronomy by Dr. K.D. Singh in 1989. Even after the death of Professor Awadhesh Narain Singh the department continued to maintain interest in collecting the ancient manuscripts and at present has the collection of about 130 manuscripts and 260 books.