Indian Statistical Institute

Logo of the Indian Statistical Institute

Motto: Unity in diversity
Established: 17 December 1931
Type: Public
Director: Sankar K. Pal
Faculty: 255
Staff: 1017
Students: 375
Undergraduates: 110
Postgraduates: 225
Doctoral students: 40
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Campus: urban
Nickname: ISI

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 Kolkata 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 Indian Parliament in 1959.

The Headquarters of ISI is located in the northern fringe of the metropolis of Kolkata, in Baranagar, in Bon-Hoogly not far from the Dunlop Bridge. Three other centres are located in Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. 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 . The present Dean of Studies is Prof. Aditya Bagchi .

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 Baranagar, 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.

Later, ISI expanded to locations in New Delhi and Bangalore and other cities. Presently, 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.

In 2008, ISI expanded to a new centre in Chennai.

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 (Honors).
  • Bachelor of Mathematics (Honors).
  • 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.

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