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Raja Chandra Bose

Born June 19, 1901(1901-06-19)
Calcutta, India
Died 31 October 1987 (aged 86)
Fort Collins, Colorado
Citizenship USA and India
Fields Design of experiments (Statistics)
Combinatorial design (Combinatorics)
Finite geometry
Institutions Colorado State University, USA,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Alma mater Calcutta University, India
Known for Association scheme
Bose-Mesner algebra
Euler's conjecture on Latin squares

Raj Chandra Bose (June 19, 1901 – October 31, 1987) Indian mathematician and statistician best known for his work in design theory and the theory of error-correcting codes in which the class of BCH codes is partly named after him. He was notable for his work along with S. S. Shrikhande and E. T. Parker in their disproof of the famous conjecture made by Leonhard Euler dated 1782 that there do not exist two mutually orthogonal Latin squares of order 4n + 2 for every n.


Early life

Raj was born in Hoshangabad, India; he was the first of five children. His father was a physician and life was good until 1918 when his mother died in the influenza pandemic. His father died of a stroke the following year. In very difficult circumstances Bose continued to study coming in first in the M.A. examinations in pure mathematics at the University of Calcutta. He did research under the supervision of the geometer Professor Shyamadas Mukherjee from Calcutta. Bose found a job as a lecturer at Asutosh College, Calcutta. He managed to publish some work on the differential geometry of convex curves.

Academic life

Bose's course changed in December 1932 when P. C. Mahalanobis, director of the new (1931) Indian Statistical Institute, offered Bose a part-time job. Mahalanobis had seen Bose’s geometrical work and wanted him to work in statistics. The day after Bose moved in, the secretary brought him all the volumes of Biometrika with a list of 50 papers to read and also Fisher's Statistical Methods for Research Workers. Mahalanobis told him, "You were saying that you do not know much statistics. You master the 50 papers … and Fisher's book. This will suffice for your statistical education for the present." With S. N. Roy, who joined the ISI a little later, Bose was the chief mathematician at the Institute.

He first worked in multivariate analysis where he collaborated with Mahalanobis and Roy. In 1938–9 Fisher visited India and talked about the design of experiments. Roy had the idea of using the theory of finite fields and finite geometry to solve problems in design. The development of a mathematical theory of design would be Bose's main preoccupation until the mid 1950s.

The ISI workers had a joke about Mahalanobis and Bose and their different priorities. The professor wanted Bose to visit the paddy fields and advise him on sampling problems for the estimation of yield of paddy. Bose did not very much like the idea, and he used to spend most of the time at home working on combinatorial problems using Galois fields. Whenever Professor Mahalanobis asked about Bose, his secretary would say that Bose is working in fields, which kept the Professor happy.

In 1935 Bose had become full-time at the Institute. In 1940 joined the University of Calcutta where C. R. Rao was in the first group of students he taught. In 1945 Bose became Head of the Department of Statistics. The university authorities told him he had to have a doctorate. So he submitted his published papers on multivariate analysis and the design of experiments and was awarded a D.Litt. in 1947.

In 1947 Bose went to the United States as a visiting professor at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received offers from American universities and he was also offered positions in India. The Indian jobs involved very heavy administration, which he saw as the end of his research work and in March 1949 he joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Professor of Statistics.

In the years at Chapel Hill Bose made important discoveries on coding theory (with D.K. Ray-Chaudhuri) and constructed (with S. S. Shrikhande and E. T. Parker ) a Graeco-Latin square of size 10, a counterexample to Euler's conjecture that no Graeco-Latin square of size 4k + 2 exists. In 1971 he retired aged 70. He then accepted a chair at Colorado State University of Fort Collins from which he retired in 1980. His final doctoral student finished after this second retirement.

Bose died in Colorado, aged 86, in 1987. He is survived by two daughters. The elder, Purabi Schur, is retired from the Library of Congress and the younger, Sipra Bose Johnson, is retired as a professor of anthropology from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Some articles by R. C. Bose

  • R. C. Bose, On the construction of balanced incomplete block designs, Annals of Eugenics. 9 (1939), 358–399.
  • R. C. Bose and K. R. Nair, Partially balanced incomplete block designs, Sankhya 4 (1939), 337–372.
  • R. C. Bose and D.K. Ray-Chaudhuri On a class of error-correcting binary codes, Information and control, 3, (1960), 68–79.
  • R. C. Bose and S. S. Shrikhande, On the falsity of Euler’s conjecture about the non-existence of two orthogonal Latin squares of order 4t + 2, Proceedings of the national Academy of Science USA, 45, (1959), 734–737.


  • J. Gani (ed) (1982) The Making of Statisticians, New York: Springer-Verlag.

This has a chapter in which Bose tells the story of his life.


  • Norman R. Draper (1990) Obituary: Raj Chandra Bose, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Vol. 153, No. 1. pp. 98–99.
  • “ Bose, Raj Chandra”, pp. 183–184 in Leading Personalities in Statistical Sciences from the Seventeenth Century to the Present, (ed. N. L. Johnson and S. Kotz) 1997. New York: Wiley. Originally published in Encyclopedia of Statistical Science.

See also

External links



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