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Name Dr.Gift Siromoney (30.7.1932 - 21.3.1988), M.A., M.Sc., Ph.D., F.S.S.
Place of Birth Tanjore, Tamil Nadu


Institution Place  Years  Degree (Subject) /Academic Designation
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1950-53 B.A. (Hons.) Mathematics
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1955 M.A. (by efflux of time)
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1959 M.Sc. (Statistics, by research) 
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1964 Ph.D. (Information Theory)
Union Theological Seminary New York 1958-59 Ecumenical Fellow (Religion)
Columbia University
(School of General Studies)
New York 1958-59 Ecumenical Fellow (Information Theory)
University of Maryland
(Computer Science Department)
College Park 1974 Homi Bhabha Fellow (Computer Science)
Elected as Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society F.S.S. 1962.

Teaching Experience

Institution Place Year Designation
American College Madurai 1953-54 Lecturer in Mathematics
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1954-67 Lecturer in Mathematics
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1967-70 Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Madras Christian College Tambaram 1970-88 Head of the Department of Statistics

Research Guidance

Ph.D.: Awarded : 5; Unofficial guidance : 5

MPhil : 1 (Harappan Script)

M.Sc : 1 (Information Theory)

Membership in Academic Societies


Administrative Experience

  1. Member, Board of Studies, Madras Christian College
  2. Member, Academic Council, Madras Christian College
  3. Member, Academic bodies of Universities


About 150 publications are available in print. These include more than fifty technical papers published in national and international journals

National Journals

International Journals (Prof. Siromoney was the first Indian to publish in the asterisked journals)

Papers have also appeared in the proceedings of international conferences such as Conference on Biologically Motivated Automata Theory, International Workshops on Graph Grammars and their Applications to Computer Science, Third Conference on Foundations of Software Technology and Theoretical Computer Science, and IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics.


Mathematics for the Social Sciences . On the invitation of the National Book Trust, India, under a scheme of adult education. This lucidly written book covers a number of new areas such as Project Planning, Information Theory, Game Theory and Linear Programming. Indian illustrations and the sparse use of formal notations make the text comprehensible even to the layperson.

Mahabalipuram Studies adopts methods of Numerical Taxonomy to classify sculptures of the period of Pallavas.

Tirukkural in Ancient Scripts demonstrates the evolution of the Tamil script in a novel way by printing verses from Tirukkural using the scripts of the different historical periods. Charts for Vatteluthu (old Malayalam) and Grantha (Sanskrit) add to the auto-instructional value of the text.

In three out of the four books, Dr. Gift Siromoney is the senior author.

Areas of research

Summary of outstanding contributions

Prof. Siromoney has done pioneering work in the area of Information Theory and its applications from 1960 onwards. After working out the relative frequencies of Tamil letters of the alphabet, he applied the information to design the first ever teleprinter keyboard for Tamil. Collaborating with Prof. K.R. Rajagopalan, he used Information Theory to analyse the musical styles of South Indian composers. He motivated his colleagues to study the entropy of Telugu and Kannada languages using Information Theory.

More than two decades ago, Prof. Siromoney, with his rare gift of far-sightedness, formed in Madras Christian College, a research group(1, 2) to study Computer Mathematics. The publications of this group have put India on the Computer Science map of the world. A major contribution of his, namely, the Two Dimensional Picture Language Theory (inspired by the engraving of kolam design on stone on the outskirts of a village) stimulated four scholars from this group to work on Formal Picture Languages for their Ph.D. Scholars in the USA (Biswas and Dubes, Pattern Recognition Letters, vol. 2. 1984, 173-177) have also  applied this theory to computer recognition of objects in Industrial Vision and Robotics. Finding Prof. Siromoney's kolam-based grammar more useful than other Array Grammars, they have named  it  'Siromoney Array Grammar'.

Prof. Siromoney also formed a research group to work on Character Recognition, especially the characters of Tamil, Malayalam and Devanagari. The methods he developed with the assistance of this group will be useful for designing a new generation of computers.

Prof.Siromoney's research team was the first to make large-scale iconometric measurements of Indian sculptures.

He opened up new avenues of research in the field of Harappan script by applying mathematical techniques such as Cluster analysis and Dynamic Programming to decipher the Indus seals. Similarly, techniques of Image Processing and Character Recognition were employed to read inscriptions.

Dr. Siromoney has made significant contributions to the field of Tribal Studies. The various facets of the culture of Narikkkuravas (Vagrivala, a nomadic gypsy tribe) -- medicine, music, language, snares etc., --drew his scholarly attention. With a view to providing literacy to the people of the tribe, he produced the first ever books in Vagriboli (the language of Vagrivala) using the Tamil script. (Microfiches of the mimeographed books have reached the Library of Congress in Washington D.C(SAI 81/00151 and 82/60278-60280).

Environmental Studies also caught the scholarly imagination of Prof.Siromoney. He has prepared check-lists of birds and butterflies of Tambaram area, and conducted experiments on the college farm in the areas of poultry, piggery and agriculture, adopting statistical methods. His articles in Newsletter for Birdwatchers make an interesting read.

With Prof.C.T.Kurien (a renowned economist who taught in Madras Christian College) he has collaborated on a study of saving pattern. The public opinion surveys he conducted in Tamil Nadu were the first of their kind and so were his studies on public health and literacy. The results of these statewide surveys were published in national and local newspapers so that the findings could be accessible to the common man.

Achievements: Synopsis

Promotion of interdisciplinary studies that brought the sciences and the humanities closer.

Application of Statistical, Mathematical and Computer techniques to diverse fields in both science and humanities.

Popularising the use of Statistics (through public opinion polls and other surveys), Modern mathematics (through his book on the subject), and the method of deciphering medieval Tamil inscriptions.

Devising the first teleprinter keyboard in Tamil.

Producing auto-instructional texts on inscriptions.

Studies on children's vision heightened the awareness of the government and others on preventable blindness. On reading a press report, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, reportedly, made a grant of two lakhs of rupees (during the period of Emergency) to the Tamil Nadu government for programs on children's vision.

Studies on education stressing the need for supplying books and uniforms to needy children in order to improve school attendance.

Tribal studies on Narikkuravas (Vagrivala) have promoted awareness on the problems of nomadic people who wish to settle down. Students of MCC were motivated to prepare books on the tribal language

- Nirmal Selvamony 
Department of English, Madras Christian College.
(Source: 'Bio-data' by Gift Siromoney)

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