Posted by: Joachim Frank |
January 24, 2020 |
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Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis

1893 – 1972

I recently was invited by the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta to give the convocation address (see http://franxfiction.com/convocation-speech-at-indian-statistical-institute-jan-23-2020/).

I learned the Institute was founded in 1931 by Mahalanobis, whose name rings a bell since I was familiar with the distance measure he introduced.

Wikipedia: “The Mahalanobis distance is a measure of the distance between a point P and a distribution D, introduced by P. C. Mahalanobis in 1936. It is a multi-dimensional generalization of the idea of measuring how many standard deviations away P is from the mean of D.”

It is one of the distance measures considered when one wishes to find clusters of data in a high-dimensional space.

His leadership brought the Institute to today’s world renown. I took the picture below in a museum dedicated to him, showing him with the famous statistician R. A. Fisher. One of his close friends was the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

The institute houses one curiosity: it has a dinosaur museum, with a fully assembled beast that was put together from pieces excavated by ISI scholars at a place far from here, in the Adilabad district of India. It weighed 7 tons and was named in honor of the famous poet: Barapasaurus tagorei.

*Prasanta Chandra
Mahalanobis with his wife (?) and Ronal A. Fisher.*

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