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Gift Siromoney was the grandson of the famous organist and musician A.G.Pichaimuthu and Mrs. Pichaimuthu of Tanjore.
On the father's side, he was Rao Sahib Abraham Pandither's brother's grandson. His father's mother, who lived upto the ripe age of 94 was a cheerful, God-fearing and gracious lady, who helped in the activities of the church. Gift's father was the only surviving child of eight she bore and this plus the fact that she was widowed at a very early age did not make her despondent nor deter her from offering her life of selfless love to cheering up others.
Daniel Siromoney served the Government of Tamil Nadu in the Revenue Department starting from a young revenue officer serving in Thanjavur district and rising up to a high and responsible post of District Revenue Officer in Ramnad. He was known for his efficiency, honesty, integrity and meticulous devotion to work. On retirement in 1963, he spent a year in Thanjavur, his hometown in the original house (Dulcie Cottage) of A.G.Pichaimuthu, next to St. Peter's church. In June 1964, he moved to Madras and was "re-employed" to serve the Government. Once his affiliation and duties to the government were over, he spent his life as a full-time evangelist, preaching the gospel. He was again a very joyful person, and he welcomed and greeted everyone with a happy, loud "Praise the Lord" and he was called "Praise the Lord Thatha" by the neighbours and friends.
Gift's mother Dulcie, was a devout wife and housewife, traveling with her husband to all the places he was transferred to, as a revenue officer whichever place they went to, she was involved in the ministry of the church catering to the needs of womenfolk. She was a loving mother and brought up her six children in godly fear, discipline and good education.
Gift's schooling was mostly in Tanjore and they lived in a small house which Pichaimuthu had built for renting out. He was always among the top in class and bagged several prizes. After completing the school education with high distinction, he joined St Joseph's College, Trichy for the intermediate course. The first year, he commuted from Thanjavur traveling by train everyday and the second year, he stayed in the New Hostel. Even at that time, he wrote articles (Stick 'em up! , Tackling the Gunmen) for the magazine and bagged prizes for the best article. In 1950, he joined the Mathematics Honours course in Madras Christian College. Even as a student, he showed remarkable leadership qualities, organizational abilities and had extraordinary power to motivate others the Mathematics Association had one of the best and active years when he was the Secretary. He graduated in 1953 and after a year of teaching in the American College, Madurai, was invited to join the faculty in the Department of Mathematics of the Madras Christian College. From then on, his talents and contributions started to blossom, getting richer and richer.
On June 1, 1955, he married his colleague Rani Baliah and the wedding was in a small village near Nazareth where Rani was born. He was a sport and enjoyed the procession in a mirror-studded pallakku (palanquin) drawn by bullocks. Arul was born on July 20, 1960.Two days before that, Gift and Rani completed the dissertation of Rani for the Columbia University A.M degree and Gift did the entire typing, and later in 1969, her Ph.D thesis too. He was a loving father, taking a keen interest in Arul's musical education and involving him in many experiments, expeditions and activities.
- Rani Siromoney
Dr. Gift Siromoney was a student of the British Statistician Dr. W.F.Kibble and received his B.A. (Hons.) degree in Mathematics with Statistics as one of the special subjects. After teaching for one year at the American College, Madurai, he was invited to join the faculty of the Madras Christian College in 1954. In 1955 he started work on a problem suggested by Dr. Kibble. It led to the submission of his M.Sc. thesis in 1958 on a Statistical Study of the Levels of Water in the College Wells.
During the period of 1958-59 he was away in the U.S. as an Ecumenical Fellow and studied Theology at the Union Seminary, New York. He had the privilege of taking courses under Professor Rheinhold Niebuhr. On his way to the U.S. he had the privilege of meeting Professor A.C.Aitken, who had guided Dr. Kibble in his research. During his stay in New York he took some courses at Columbia University. He had the good fortune to study Time Series under Professor T.W. Anderson and Information Theory under Professor K.L.Chung both at the Department of Mathematical Statistics of Columbia University. On his return the University of Madras awarded him the M.Sc. degree. At that time Madras University would not specify the subject for its research degrees.
In 1959 he started working in Information Theory, which was hardly ten years old. Very few people in the country were aware of its growth and potentialities. He applied statistical methods to different branches of knowledge (in the good British tradition) such as Karnatic music, Tamil poetry, Meteorology and Linguistics. He designed the first Tamil teleprinter keyboard based on statistical principles. He also discovered a new mathematical distribution called the general Dirichlet's distribution which is a generalization of the logarithmic distribution whose application he had worked in the M.Sc. thesis. His thesis was sent to Britain and was approved in record time. He was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1964.
In 1965 he spotted a new area of research known as Automata Theory which was then developing in the U.S. A small group was started at Tambaram and a number of papers appeared in the leading journals of the world. Mrs. Rani Siromoney was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1970. Another member joined the group and was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1974. In recognition of his pioneering work Dr. Siromoney was awarded the Homi Bhabha Fellowship for a year and he spent more than 6 months abroad. During their stay at the University of Maryland, the Siromoneys published two technical reports on L-Systems and their extensions to two dimensions. Once again this was a new branch which was developing at a rapid rate.
Dr. Siromoney was ably assisted by a group of enthusiastic and well-qualified members of staff in the Department of Statistics. A number of them were trained in Computer Programming which was one of the subjects taught by the Department both at the undergraduate and the post graduate level. Professor K.R.Rajagopalan had wide experience in teaching and research in a variety of fields.
Studies undertaken by the department were brought out as Scientific Reports, which had become absolutely necessary to establish priorities and to disseminate latest discoveries. Apart from the scientific report series, many of which got published in leading journals, they also had a "green and white" series for the extension work. The extension reports include the first book in the Narikorava language and Thirukkural written in different scripts of the last 2000 years.
Students in the department had participated in many large and small surveys to get practical training in the field. They had made use of the opportunities available in the College Farm and students had also taken up projects in agriculture, poultry and piggery.
Many of the works and projects undertaken by the Department were inter-departmental in nature. They had published papers jointly with members of the Departments of Economics, History, Philosophy, Mathematics and Botany. They had assisted members of the other Departments in doing computing work for them.
They made full use of the punchers and verifiers that they had. They made use of the Computer facilities available at Madras and had arrangements with the Engineering College Computer Center, A.C.College Computer Center and the IIT Computer Center. They were able to use PAXD II language as well as the plotter. They were given evening courses in Fortran Programming, Autocoder Programming, Biometry and Card-punching.
A number of members of the faculty of several Departments of the college actively engaged themselves in research. It gave them the right atmosphere to continue search for knowledge and experience the sheer joy of discovery.