Brief History of the Department:
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 over a century. On the teaching side, instruction is being imparted to the UG and PG level students. The UG courses have undergone significant changes and form a useful combination of the essentials of the pure and applied mathematics with emphasis on modern approach. The PG courses offer a wide range of specialization in many 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 positions of twenty-five faculty members.
In its initial stage, headed by Prof. J.A. Strang, the department consolidated and standardized the courses. After a decade of its existence, the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy started enrolling students for Ph.D. The next head Prof. A.N Singh, with his profound scholarship and planning, 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, Prof. A.N. 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. Prof. A.N. Singh together with Dr. Sampurnanand, then Education Minister of Uttar Pradesh, marked the introduction of Astronomy as a subject of study for B.Sc. degree for the first time in India. The construction of a 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, journals and some rare collection of monographs and manuscripts is named after Prof. A.N. Singh. In 1954, Prof. 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. A good number of research students pursued research investigation under his dynamic supervision. The books written by him for UG students are still very popular among the students and teachers. In 1956, Prof. Ram Ballabh, who was also Superintendent of Works and Dean, Faculty of Science, constructed a new block for the 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 the art computing facility, is named after him. The department continued to benefit from the stewardship by subsequent heads namely, Prof. R.P. Agarwal, Prof. M.D.Upadhyay, Prof. Kamla D. Singh, Prof. Sunil Dutta, Prof. G.P. Dikshit, Prof. Aruna Nigam, Prof. Ram Nivas, Prof. Manju Agarwal, Prof. P. Nagar, Prof. B. Srivastava and Prof. Poonam Sharma. Prof Vivek Sahai is the current head of the department.
The Department of Mathematics and Astronomy has made significant contributions to the advancement of mathematics throughout the last hundred years. 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 Prof. 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, G.E. Hadamard, J.N. Srivastava, H.N. Mhaskar, V.J. Narlikar 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 its kind in Northern India. Late Prof. A.N. Singh, a reputed mathematician who had done pioneering research on Hindu Mathematics, established this center in 1939. The society was renamed Bharat Ganita Parisad in 1950. After doing his post-graduation from Banaras Hindu University in 1924, Prof. A.N. 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, Prof. A.N. Singh had come into contact with Prof. B.B. 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. Prof. A.N. Singh’s researches in this field have been published in about a dozen papers and four books. In 1935, in collaboration with Prof. B.B. Dutta, he wrote a two volumes on “History of Hindu Mathematics” which received international acclaim and is still considered to be an authentic source book. The first volume deals with history of numeral notations and arithmetic, 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 Prof. A.N. 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 combinations, but unfortunately did not live to see its publication. Many years after his death, Prof. K.S. Shukla, who was associated with him since 1941, revised the material, and got it published by Indian National Science Academy in a series of papers. In 1939, UP Government, recognizing the importance of Prof. A.N. Singh’s work, sanctioned a research scheme under his supervision with the object of collecting, editing, translating and interpreting old texts 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, Murlidhar Thakur, Yogeshwar Jha and Gopal Dwivedi joined him as research assistants. Valuable manuscripts were discovered all over India. In Rajasthan, Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Nepal and the India Office, London. In his life-time, Prof. A.N. Singh acquired copies of 58 manuscripts comprising 52 transcripts, 3 photocopies and 3 microfilms. Some of these manuscripts are very rare and were discovered by Prof. A.N. 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. A.N. Singh also collected 5 manuscripts on Mahabhaskariya written by Bhaskar I (629 AD) and based on these Prof. K.S.Shukla, working under his guidance was awarded a D.Litt. Degree by Lucknow University in 1955, a year after death of Prof. A.N. Singh. The subject of Prof. K.S. Shukla thesis was Astronomy in the seventh century in India: Bhaskar I and his work. In 1954, Prof. A.N. 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 Prof. A.N. Singh, soon after the responsibility of publication fell upon Prof. 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.
Prof. K.S. Shukla proved to be a true heir of Prof. A.N. 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 Prof. R. P. Agarwal in 1976 and the other on History of Mathematics and Astronomy by Prof. K.D. Singh in 1989. Even after the death of Prof. A.N. 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.
Prominent Alumni of the Department: