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D D Kosambi

D D Kosambi

Mathematician, historian, statistician and a philologist

Damodar Dharmananda Kosambi donned many hats, including that of a mathematician, historian, statistician, and a philologist. Before his foray into history, Kosambi was a celebrated  mathematician with two important contributions to the field; one was the Kosambi map function, and the other was the widely used statistical technique called proper orthogonal decomposition (POD). Both these techniques are used in image processing, signal processing, data compression, oceanography and many more. 

Kosambi’s training in mathematics is said to have guided his way of thinking, influencing his work in other fields, including history. His deep interest in India’s ancient history led him to study marxism, and he later went on to become a leading Marxist historian specializing in ancient India. During the days of India’s independence struggle, Kosambi became a political activist and
an outspoken Marxist. He is credited with introducing a new method of historical scholarship, with the application of modern mathematics to study history. Today, Kosambi is considered as an inspiration to many Sanskrit philologists and Marxist scholars, and is also credited with deeply influencing the writing of Indian history.

The function of a historian is neither to love the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present.

Known for Kosambi mapping function used in genetics