IISc sees Maths tide as career matrix expands

IISc sees Maths tide as career matrix expands

The Indian Institute of Science can now pride itself on being the number one for Maths PhDs, with a whopping 60 enrolments.

 The iconic mathematician Ramanujan is being taught in the portals of the premier science institute, but it has not forgotten Goldman Sachs or Microsoft too.  Legacy mathematics is certainly part of the learning, but the vast range of applications contemporary mathematics has in the liberal Indian economy is increasingly attracting students to the field. Prof Gadadhar Misra, chairman of IISc’s Mathematics department, told Deccan Herald.

“IIT Bombay and Chennai Mathematical Institute which are strong in mathematics do not match IISc’s PhD strength. It is most unusual for any department to have 60 PhD enrolments at a given time. IISc is experiencing a good math tide,” Misra said. 

The PhD admission over the last few years has been around 13 students a year, with a good chunk of eight to 10 students coming from the Integrated PhD stream and the rest from regular PhD programme. 

IISc’s undergraduate course in Maths attracts an average of 20 students every year, not a bad number considering the high preference for physics, chemistry and biology. Misra admits Chennai is strong at the undergraduate level. 

Maths experts say that the current diversity of the subject has made it an attractive option for students. The fact that IISc is a multi-disciplinary centre, where Maths can be combined with a range of subjects, has made the institute a promising Maths destination in India. The faculty is also young at an average age of 44-46 years.

It is now central to biology with mathematical models of biological systems laying the foundation for biology analysis via Maths. 

It is also integrated with neurosciences as it has a major say in understanding the functions of the brain. Maths plays a vital role in aerospace again via modelling; the financial world is more than ever dependent on Maths to understand flows and fluctuations.

In the prediction of stock prices and understanding the dynamics of stock exchange, Maths is heavily used. This sector has been attracting plenty of researchers worldwide as it is well-paying and as well as exciting as an intellectual exercise. 

It has also made inroads in the field of optimisation, where the focus is on devising the best models of execution of projects. All of these dimensions are available at IISc.

What is also tempting students to Bangalore is the high number of MNC research labs. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Accenture, IBM, Intel, Infosys, WIPRO, TCS, HP on the engineering front and Goldman Sachs, RBS, Standard Chartered and HSBC, which are all hiring Maths PhDs, offering them high salaries (superior to what one would get as an academic and researcher). 

IISc has very strong linkages with engineering and financial labs and has undertaken projects for them. The projects have opened up an attractive career option, swelling the number of Maths students and researchers.

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