Samarendra Nath Roy: A Journey from India to Global Statistical Fame

Samarendra Nath Roy: Pioneering Statistician and Mathematical Genius

Samarendra Nath Roy (11 December 1906 – 23 July 1964) stands as a towering figure in the world of mathematics and statistics. His journey from a humble beginning in India to becoming a revered statistician in America is a tale of dedication, brilliance, and an unyielding passion for knowledge.

Early Life of Samarendra Nath Roy: A Foundation of Resilience

Born as the first of three children to Kali Nath Roy and Suniti Bala Roy, Samarendra’s early life was deeply influenced by his father’s valor and principles.

Kali Nath Roy, a freedom fighter and the Chief Editor of The Tribune, was imprisoned for two years for publishing a report on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. This act of bravery undoubtedly shaped young Samarendra’s character, instilling in him a sense of resilience and determination.

Samarendra Nath Roy’s academic journey began with exceptional promise. He secured first division in the Matriculation Examination in 1923 and topped the Intermediate Science Examinations in 1925. His intellectual prowess was further evident as he graduated at the top of his class in both BSc Mathematics (Honours) in 1928 and MSc in Mixed Mathematics in 1931 from the prestigious University of Calcutta.

Academic Career: A Journey of Excellence

In 1931, Samarendra Nath Roy embarked on a significant chapter of his life by joining the Department of Applied Mathematics at Rajabazar Science College, University of Calcutta, as a research associate.

Here, he utilized the computing facilities of the newly established Indian Statistical Institute, founded by Professor P. C. Mahalanobis. Samarendra Nath Roy, along with a cohort of talented scholars like J. M. Sengupta, H. C. Sinha, Raj Chandra Bose, K. R. Nair, K. Kishen, and C. R. Rao, formed a vibrant group of statisticians under Mahalanobis’s mentorship.

Roy’s pioneering contributions to multivariate statistical analysis set him apart in the academic community. He delved into complex transformations for various exact distributions, rectangular coordinates, and the Bartlett decomposition, making significant advancements in these areas. His work at the Indian Statistical Institute under Mahalanobis’s guidance laid a strong foundation for his future endeavors.

International Recognition: A Global Scholar

The next phase of Roy’s career saw him gaining international recognition. He initially traveled to the United States in 1949 to take up a Visiting Professorship of Statistics at Columbia University. Following a brief return to India to head the Department of Statistics at the University of Calcutta, Roy joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a full Professor of Statistics in 1950.

At the University of North Carolina, Samarendra Nath Roy continued to leave an indelible mark on the field of statistics. He mentored 15 doctorate students from 1950 to 1963, fostering a new generation of statisticians who would carry forward his legacy.

His contributions were celebrated with an International Conference on “Multivariate Statistical Methods in the 21st Century: The Legacy of Prof. S.N. Roy” in 2006 and a special issue of the Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference to commemorate his birth centenary.

Personal Life: A Family Man

Despite his towering academic achievements, Samarendra Nath Roy remained a devoted family man. He was married to Bani Roy, and together they had four children: Prabir, Subir, Tapon, and Sunanda. Roy’s life was a blend of professional dedication and personal commitment, a balance that underscored his holistic approach to life.

Also Read:Narasingha Sil: A Distinguished Historian’s Journey

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