Kolkata: The Google Doodle honours Indian scientist and the founder of Indian Statistical Institute, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, on his 125th birthday on Friday. He is best remembered for the theory of Mahalanobis distance, and was also one of the members of the first Planning Commission of India.
Mahalanobis belonged to a family of Bengali landed gentry who lived in Bikrampur (now in Bangladesh). His grandfather Gurucharan (1833–1916) moved to Calcutta in 1854 and built up a business, starting a chemist shop in 1860.
Gurucharan was influenced by Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905), father of the Nobel Prize–winning poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Gurucharan was actively involved in social movements such as the Brahmo Samaj, acting as its Treasurer and President. His house on 210 Cornwallis Street was the center of the Brahmo Samaj. Gurucharan married a widow, an action against social traditions.
Mahalanobis is also known for his contribution to conducting surveys. While he introduced the concept of pilot surveys, he also acquainted many with the system of sampling. He also introduced a method for estimation of crop yields using statistical sampling. The scientist breathed his last on June 28, 1972, just a day ahead of his 79th birthday.