HARISH CHANDRA and His Love For Mathematics

harish chqandra the mathematician

The word mathematics is like a dangerous monster for some people. Many of the students who consider mathematics as their enemy would have thought that the subject mathematics should never have existed. But in this world of billions of population, there are many who not only love mathematics but take it up as their career.

Harish Chandra was one among such people in the olden times who was a well-known mathematician. Not only did he like the subject mathematics, but also made significant contributions to the world of mathematics which is undoubtedly praiseworthy. Harish Chandra was born on 11th of October, 1923 in Kanpur. He belonged to an upper middle class family which was a benefit to the educational career of Harish Chandra.

The engineering background of Harish Chandra’s family was another advantage for him. His primary education was done at home by his parents and a home tutor. Harish was admitted to a private school in Kanpur at the age of nine. Though he was a very brilliant student, he had a bad health which was always an obstacle in Harish’s career.

Later, Harish Chandra joined University of Allahabad where he focused more on theoretical physics. Having tutors and guides like C. V. Raman and Homi Jehangir Bhabha was an inspiration for Harish Chandra and his interest in physics increased. The study of principles of Quantum Mechanics was another addition to his interest in physics.

In the year 1941, Harish Chandra finished his B. Sc. from Allahabad University. He continued in the same University and got his Master’s degree in 1943. During the course of his study, Harish Chandra faced serious health issues like measles. But this did not affect his performance and success. After that, Harish joined Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore to do his postgraduate research. In 1944, his first research paper was published with Homi Bhabha ‘On the theory of point particles’.

Harish Chandra moved to University of Cambridge where he was supervised by a lifelong friend Paul Dirac. It was during when Harish Chandra moved to Princeton that his interests were shifted to mathematics from physics. The works of researchers like Emil Artin, Claude Chevalley and Hermann Weyl played a major role in shifting of his interests.

Harish moved to Columbia University and that was when he made the major achievements of his life. From 1950 to 1963, Harish Chandra researched on “Semi Simple Lie Groups”. This was indeed his best research. He explained about the lie algebra where the ideal of the number were 0 and itself. Other achievements of Harish Chandra include Weyl’s character formula analogue, Plancherel measure for semi simple groups, philosophy of cusp forms, etc. he also worked at Neumann Professor in 1968 at the Institute of Advanced Study.

Harish Chandra was a great mathematician of the twentieth century. His achievements and contributions were praiseworthy. He was honoured with AMS Cole Prize in 1954 for his outstanding work ‘Representations of Semi Simple Lie algebras and groups’. He was the Fellow of the Royal Society. He was given the Ramanujan Medal in 1974 for his wonderful works in mathematics. Not only in India, but Harish Chandra’s achievements were honoured outside India as well. He was given an honorary degree in the Yale University. Harish Chandra Research Institute (HRI) was started by the Government of India in the honour of his contributions in the field of mathematics.

The great personality did not live for a long time. Harish Chandra died on 16th October, 1983 due to a heart attack while attending a Conference in Princeton. Harish Chandra was a genius who gave a new way to the mathematics. Had he not made his contributions, the representative theory of mathematics would not have been at the place it is present now!

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