Maths missionary

R. Sivaraman (36), assistant professor of mathematics at D.G. Vaishnav College, Chennai is the founder of Pie Mathematics Association (PMA), a not-for-profit trust registered in 2007 with the objective of reducing if not eliminating, maths phobia within the students community and public. An executive council member of the Chennai-based Association of Maths Teachers of India, Sivaraman is one of very few Indians inducted as life members into the American Mathem-atical Society (estb.1888) and London Mathematical Society (1865).Newspeg. PMA has developed over 60 math models, over 150 exclusive videos and 40 vinyl charts to explain complex mathematical concepts to students across the education spectrum — from primaries to postgraduates. Moreover, Sivaraman has published three math-ematics textbooks in the past three years and is set to write another on number patterns this year. More pertinently, PMA offers free after-school maths tuition to underprivileged students in government and corporation schools; has paid the school and college fees of 26 poor and physically challenged students; conducted over 50 workshops for school and college teachers; set up maths laboratories in three schools and a college; helped the Tamil Nadu government set up math labs for 100 government and corporation schools, and its members deliver lectures every Sunday to explain the utility and wonders of mathematics to eager students.
Direct talk. Teaching is my true calling and I derive immense satisfaction from innovating math pedagogies and sharing my love of the subject. Most children find maths difficult because there is no visual perspective in the manner the subject is taught today. I use 3-D models and simple learning materials to explain concepts in trignometry and algebra. This year Im hoping more schools and colleges will avail of our services, says Sivaraman.
History. A mathematics graduate of Madras University and IIT-Madras, Sivaraman began his career as a lecturer in Madha Engineering College, Chennai in 1997. A year later, he joined the D.G. Vaishnav Arts and Science College where he moved up the ranks to assistant professor of mathematics in 2005. In 2007, PMA was established with ten members whose number has now risen to 40, and who manage to raise Rs.100,000 annually for the association.
PMA is a unique association of maths aficionados. In the associations office in Choolaimedu, we have on display portraits of 50 of the worlds greatest mathematicians plus a collection of 2,000 rare works of great mathem-aticians. Moreover we keep ourselves updated by regularly interacting with famous mathematicians including George Andrews and Bruce Berndt, who are experts on the work of Indian mathe-matical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, says Sivaraman.
Future plans. We will continue to popularise maths by producing videos, publishing books and creating unique math models to enlighten students and teachers. On the drawing board are plans to start an institute with lecture halls devoted solely to the study of maths, and production of a documentary on S. Ramanujan, says Sivaraman.
Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)

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