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Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) engages in the research, teaching, and application of statistics to the natural sciences and social sciences. Founded by Professor P.C. Mahalanobis in Kolkatamarker in 1931, while statistics was a relatively new scientific field, the institute gained the status of an Institution of National Importance by an act of the Indianmarker Parliament in 1959.

The Headquarters of ISI is located in the northern fringe of the metropolis of Kolkata, in Baranagarmarker, in Bon-Hoogly not far from the Dunlop Bridge. Three other centres are located in Delhimarker, Bangaloremarker and Chennaimarker. The ISI's teaching activities are in Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore, while other cities in India have branch offices engaged in projects and consultancy in Statistical Quality Control and Operations Research. Presently, ISI has a total annual expenditure of over Rs. 15,000,000 and employs 250 faculty members, and over 1,000 supporting staff.

The Present Director is Prof. Sankar Kumar Pal [159517].The present Dean of Studies is Prof. Aditya Bagchi [159518].

ISI is generally regarded as being the best Indian school in the few areas of its expertise namely statistics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative economics, operations research and information science and is considered to be one of the few research oriented Indian schools at both, the undergraduate and graduate level.


The major objectives of the Indian Statistical Institute, as stated in its Memorandum of Association, are:

  • To promote the study and dissemination of knowledge of Statistics, to develop statistical theory and methods, and their use in research and practical applications generally, with special reference to problems of planning of national development and social welfare;

  • To undertake research in various fields of natural and social sciences, with a view to the mutual development of Statistics and these sciences;

  • To provide for, and undertake, the collection of information, investigation, projects and operational research for purposes of planning and the improvement of efficiency of management and production.

Unity in Diversity is the motto of the Institute.


The Statistical Laboratory in the Presidency College, Kolkata was set up by Mahalanobis in the Physics Department of the college in 1920s. On 17 December, 1931, the Indian Statistical Institute was founded as a learned society and was housed in the Statistical Laboratory. In 1931, Mahalanobis was the only person working for ISI and he managed it with an annual expenditure of Rs. 250. Many colleagues of Mahalanobis took an interest in statistics and the group grew in the Statistical Laboratory. A meeting was called on the 17 December 1931 with Pramatha Nath Banerji (Minto Professor of Economics), Nikhil Ranjan Sen (Khaira Professor of Applied Mathematics) and Sir R. N. Mukherji. This meeting led to the establishment of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), and formally registered on 28 April 1932 as a non-profit distributing learned society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.

Later, it was registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act XXVI of 1961 amended in 1964. The ISI was relocated to a property owned by Professor Mahalanobis, named "Amrapali", in Baranagarmarker, North Kolkata.

It gradually grew with the pioneering work of a group of his colleagues including S. S. Bose, J. M. Sengupta, R. C. Bose, S. N. Roy, K. R. Nair, R. R. Bahadur, G. Kallianpur and D. B. Lahiri. The institute also gained major assistance through Pitamber Pant, who was a secretary to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Pant was trained in statistics at the Institute and took a keen interest in the institute.

In 1933, the journal Sankhya was also founded along the lines of Karl Pearson's Biometrika.

The Institute started a training section in 1938. Many of the early workers left the ISI for careers in the USA and with the government of India. Mahalanobis invited J. B. S. Haldane to join him at the ISI and Haldane joined as a Research Professor from August 1957 and stayed on until February 1961. He resigned from ISI due to frustrations with the administration and disagreements with Mahalanobis's administrative policies. He was also very concerned with the frequent travels and absence of the director and wrote The journeyings of our Director define a novel random vector. Haldane however helped the ISI grow in biometrics.

In 1959 the Institute was declared as an Institute of national importance and a deemed university. ISI started "centres" in New Delhi and Bangalore and "units" in Chennai and Hyderabad. In 2008, ISI Chennaimarker was upgraded from "unit" to "centre".

ISI Kolkata has a campus consisting of six addresses: 201 through 206 Barrackpore Trunk Road. These include a house, which was an erstwhile office of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) of India, and prior to that, a movie studio in the 1920s and 1930s.

Programs of Study

Traditionally, ISI offers fewer programs (and admits fewer students) than most other degree granting academic institutions. The following are the degree programs currently offered by ISI.

  • Bachelor of Statistics (Honours).
  • Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours).
  • Master of Statistics.
  • Master of Mathematics.
  • Master of Science in Quantitative Economics.
  • Master of Science in Library and Information Science.
  • Master of Technology in Computer Science.
  • Master of Technology in Quality, Reliability and Operations Research.
  • Doctor of Philosophy.


Among alumni of ISI, there are many who excelled in the field of statistics, mathematics or probability. Notable ones among them include C. R. Rao, S. R. S. Varadhan, K. R. Parthasarathy, T. Parthasarathy,Thriyambakam Krishnan, Rajeev Karandikar, Ravindra Khattree, J. S. Rao, Kesar Singh, Anuradha Roy, D. C. Rao, Ranajit Chakraborty, Probal Chaudhuri, Arup Bose etc.

The institute has also led research in anthropology and palaeontology. A species of dinosaur, the Isisaurus, was named after the institute.

The Kolkata campus

Bose Bhavan
Kolmogorov Bhavan
Library Building
Offers bachelors level degree in Statistics (B.Stat) and masters degree in Statistics, Computer Science, Quality Reliability and Operations Research andQuantitative Economics. Major divisions and units are:
  • Stat. Math. Unit (SMU)
  • Physics and Applied Mathematics Unit(PAMU)
  • Advanced Computation and MicroElectronics Unit (ACMU)
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Unit (CVPRU)
  • Machine Intelligence Unit (MIU)
  • Electronics and Communication Sciences Unit (ECSU)
  • Applied Statistics Unit (ASU) etc.

The Kolkata campus also houses the The International Statistical Education Centre (ISEC) opened in 1950.This Centre has been providing training in Statistics to sponsored students mainly from the countries of the Middle East, South and South East Asia, the Far East and the Commonwealth Countries of Africa. The Centre also offers various short-term courses in Statistics and related subjects.

The Central Library of ISI is located at Kolkata with a network extending to other locations of the Institute.Over the years, the library has attained the distinction of being one of the richest libraries of the country, particularlyin the field of Statistics and related disciplines. The Central Library at Kolkata has over 200,000 volumes of books and journals besides many official reports, reprints, maps, and microfilms. It receives about one thousand scientific and technical journals annually. The Library has acquired databases on CD-ROM and further digitization of the library facilities is in progress. The library has developed a separate collection of books and journals in Mathematics and Statistics known as Eastern Regional Centre of NBHM collection, out of the grants from the National Board for Higher Mathematics.

Images of the Delhi campus

Image:Main road of ISI Delhi.JPGImage:Near main entrance of ISI Delhi.JPGImage:A road in ISI Delhi.JPGImage:ISI Delhi Campus.jpgImage:ISI Delhi main building - front (day).JPG|Main office buildingImage:ISI Delhi admin building side view.JPG|Administration blockImage:ISI Delhi parking lot at night.JPG|Parking lotImage:Part of ISI Delhi campus near A9-A14.JPGImage:ISI Delhi Guest House.JPG|Guest HouseImage:ISI Delhi canteen at night.JPG|CanteenImage:ISI Delhi Hostel.JPG|HostelImage:ISI Delhi library building.JPG|Library

Images of the Bangalore campus

Image:ISI Bangalore main building.JPG|Main buildingImage:ISI Bangalore main building 2.JPG|Main buildingImage:ISI Bangalore main hostel.JPG|Main hostel

Image:ISI Bangalore Guest House.JPG|Guest HouseImage:ISI Bangalore auditorium.JPG|Auditorium


  1. Objectives of ISI
  2. Rao, C. R. (1973) Prasantha Chandra Mahalanobis. 1893-1972. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 19:454-492
  3. Rudra, A. (1996), Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis: A Biography. Oxford University Press.
  4. History of ISI

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