IIT Kanpur came into existence on November 2, 1959 through the registration of a society in New Delhi. Professor P. K. Kelkar, the founding director, took charge on December 14, 1959 and the first batch of B. Tech. students was admitted in August 1960. IIT Kanpur was the first institute in the country to introduce science based engineering curriculum at the undergraduate level. For academic vibrancy the institute established independent engineering and science departments right in the beginning. The Department of Mathematics at IIT Kanpur came into existence in 1960, starting with two faculty members to cater to undergraduate teaching. The department has come a long way in these 54 years; the current faculty strength is 39.


photo courtesy:
R.Shukla (IITK)
Abhijit Das (IIT-KGP)

Evolution of Academic Programmes

The small group of faculty members in 1961 set an agenda for excellence in teaching with a strong research component. Thus the doctoral programme got started right in the beginning in 1960-61. In the first convocation of the institute held in 1965, out of a total of five PhD degrees awarded, three were in Mathematics. The agenda for strong research was set with introduction of graduate level courses and comprehensive examination. So far 352 PhDs have been produced by the department (324 in Mathematics and 28 in Statistics). Currently the student strength in our PhD programme is around 50. The PhD students of the department constitute a vibrant academic community. In addition to their own research work, they actively participate in teaching through conducting tutorials and assistance in courses having large number of registrations. Based on the recommendations of the Academic Review committee, the PhD programme is currently under review.

By 1965 the faculty size had become reasonably large and the department was in a position to start an additional independent programme. Thus a two-year Master's programme in Mathematics was started in 1965 to provide quality training after B.Sc. This programme had flexibility in course structure and was envisaged to produce students who were well trained and motivated for research. This also provided an input to the PhD programme of the department. While initially the number of students was limited to 10 per batch, it has been raised to 40 now. From the academic session 2004-2005, admissions to this and similar programmes in other IIT's are made through an all India Joint Admission Test, called Joint Admission Test for M.Sc.'s (JAM).


By 1970, some faculty members in the area of Statistics had also joined. In order to strengthen the PhDprogramme and to utilize the available faculty in Statistics, the department started a two year M.Sc. (Statistics) programme in July 1971. Initially this programme had a limited student intake of 5 per batch. More faculty members in Statistics joined and the student intake in the programme is now 40 per batch. Students in this programme are also admitted through JAM.

In 1971, the institute took an initiative to start a 5-year M. Sc. integrated programmes in sciences, where the intake was through Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Talent Search (NTS). Thus, in the academic year 1971-72, the department started M. Sc. (Integrated) programmes in Mathematics as well as in Statistics. While some very good students (including NTS scholars) joined these programmes, the number of students opting for these programmes remained small. These programmes produced some very motivated students for research, who are well placed in various research and teaching institutes.
The name of the department was changed to Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the year 2004.

Scientific Computing

In the early 1990s, scientific computing was recognized as a new thrust area in many mathematics departments across the world. In order to keep pace with the new developments and also to better utilize its expertise, the department replaced the existing M.Sc. (Integrated) programme in Mathematics and Statistics with a single 5-year M.Sc (Integrated) programme in Mathematics and Scientific Computing. This new programme started from the academic year 1995-96, and had an intake of over 40 students per batch. The programme attracted some very good students and two students of this programme were awarded the President's Gold Medal (PGM) for the best academic performance in the graduating class amongst all disciplines of B. Tech. and M.Sc. (5-year Integrated) degree programmes of the institute. Since its inception, three undergraduate students of the department have received the PGM. It is worth mentioning here that three alumni of the department have also received the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award.