Person: Datta, Bibhutibhushan
Bibhutibhushan Datta, born in what is now Banglsdesh, was a historian of Indian mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- From his youth, Datta was deeply religious.
- When Datta was at school he was already wishing to do away with worldly possessions such as clothes.
- Datta learnt much about the mystic way of life through the teachings of Ramakrishna (1836-1886), known to his followers as Paramahamsa.
- Datta studied these religious teachings, reading many books on religion, and lived his life according to this philosophy.
- Datta was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in 1912 and continued to study for a Master's degree.
- But Datta said he would receive a first class degree, which in fact he did in 1914 when he passed the Master's examination in Pure and Applied Mathematics.
- It is also not surprising the Datta did exceptionally well in the Master's examinations he took in 1914 for he had already had two papers accepted for publication by the Calcutta Mathematical Society, namely On a physical interpretation of certain formulae in the theory of elasticity (1910-11) and On the figures of equilibrium of a rotating mass of liquid for laws of attraction other than the law of inverse square (1911-12).
- On the results of his Master's examinations, Datta was awarded a scholarship to study for his doctorate at Calcutta University.
- The topic that Datta studied for his doctorate was hydrodynamics.
- Datta was awarded his doctorate in 1920 but his deep religious beliefs meant that he did not seek a traditional academic career.
- In 1914 he became head of mathematics at the University of Calcutta and so was head of department when Datta was a student.
- This was to lead to a significant change in Datta's career.
- His influence on Datta saw him change his research interests away from hydrodynamics and to the history of mathematics.
- Datta's first publications on the history of mathematics were five papers all published in 1926.
- Indeed, in 1933 Datta retired from the University of Calcutta for the second and final time.
- When he retired in 1933, Datta gave the manuscript of his three volume work History of Hindu Mathematics to his young colleague Avadhesh Narayan Singh.
- The basis for this book had been the lectures Datta gave to the Allahabad University Mathematical Association in December 1927.
- Datta and Singh's 'History of Hindu Mathematics' should be in every library which reaches standards covered by the word "approved." It should be owned by individuals who have any interest whatever in the history of the progress of science.
Born 28 June 1888, Kanungoyapara village, Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). Died 6 October 1958, Puskara, Rajasthan.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive