Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis Biography
Birthday: June 29, 1893 (Cancer)
Born In: Kolkata
Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis was an Indian scientist and applied statistician who devised the Mahalanobis distance, a statistical measure. He founded the Indian Statistical Institute and played a key role in formulating India’s strategy for industrialization in the Second Five-Year Plan (1956–61). He was also very well known for his pioneering studies in anthropometry in India. Born into an academically oriented family in late 19th century, he was encouraged to pursue his intellectual interests from an early age. After completing his schooling he went to study at the Presidency College, Calcutta where he had the good fortune of being taught by the likes of Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sarada Prasanna Das, and Prafulla Chandra Ray. Brilliant and ambitious, he moved to England to further his education at the King's College, Cambridge. There he met the eminent Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and was deeply influenced by him. While in England, Mahalanobis developed an interest in statistics and was fascinated by the idea of how statistics could be used to understand problems in meteorology and anthropology. After returning to India, he teamed up with a group of like-minded colleagues to form the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). As a statistician he made several remarkable contributions to the field, and was instrumental in formulating newly independent India’s strategy for industrialization.