Chennai Mathematical Institute

Chennai Mathematical Institute
Type Research and Education Institution
Established 1989
Dean Madhavan Mukund
Director Rajeeva Karandikar
Director Emeritus C. S. Seshadri
Location Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Campus Suburban, 5.4 acre
Acronym CMI

Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) is a research and education institute in Chennai, India. It was founded by the SPIC Science Foundation in 1989, and offers undergraduate as well as postgraduate programmes in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, besides its key strength in the form of high-end research in Mathematics.[1] CMI is noted for its research in the field of algebraic geometry, in particular in the area of moduli[2] of bundles.

CMI was earlier located in T. Nagar in the heart of Chennai in an office complex. It moved to a new 5-acre (20,000 m2) campus in Siruseri in October 2005.[3]

In December 2006, CMI was recognized as a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act 1956,[4] making it a deemed university.[1] Until then, the teaching program was offered in association with Bhoj Open University, as it offered more flexibility.


CMI Main Building
CMI Academic Block

CMI began as the School of Mathematics, SPIC Science Foundation, in 1989. The SPIC Science Foundation was set up in 1986 by Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation (SPIC) Ltd., one of the major industrial houses in India, to foster the growth of science and technology in the country.

In 1996, the School of Mathematics became an independent institution and changed its name to SPIC Mathematical Institute. In 1998, in order to better reflect the emerging role of the institute, it was renamed the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI).

From its inception, the institute has had a Ph.D programme in Mathematics and Computer Science. In the initial years, the Ph.D programme was affiliated to the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani and the University of Madras. In December 2006, CMI was recognized as a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act 1956.[5]

In 1998, CMI took the initiative to bridge the gap between teaching and research by starting B.Sc.(Hons.) and M.Sc. programmes in Mathematics and allied subjects.[6] In 2001, the B.Sc. programme was extended to incorporate two courses with research components, leading to an M.Sc. degree in Mathematics and an M.Sc degree in Computer Science. In 2003, a new undergraduate course was added, leading to a B.Sc. degree in Physics.

In 2010, CMI launched a summer fellowship programme whereby they invited about 30 students from all over India to work under the faculty at CMI on various research projects.

Later, in 2012, the B.Sc. degree in Physics was restructured as an integrated B.Sc. degree in Mathematics and Physics.


CMI moved into its new campus on 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land at the SIPCOT Information Technology Park in Siruseri in October, 2005. The campus is located along the Old Mahabalipuram Road, which is developing as the IT corridor to the south of the city.

Architecture of the campus

The new campus was designed by architect K. S. Ranganath with permeability of wind, light and green as a guiding principle. Most spaces are one room deep with openings enabling adequate cross ventilation vital to the humid climate besides offering view of soothing green, a feature, which also results in lower energy use. Another important consideration in design was the need to offer settings for spontaneous interactions which has been found to be as significant to discourse and learning as formal classrooms. Nature lined circulation spaces with open discussion areas with blackboards have been created to inspire such serendipity. The Circle, a universal symbol with extensive meaning used as both the organisational structure and descriptive metaphor for social gathering and learning since the earliest of the human societies besides its ubiquity in nature and geometry, is drawn into the morphology of the campus.

The library block and the student's hostel were completed in late 2006 and become operational from January 2007.

Auditorium Building

In 2006, CMI implemented grey water recycling system on its campus. The system was designed for CMI by Sultan Ahmed Ismail to treat waste water produced after cleaning, washing and bathing to be used for gardening or ground water recharge.[7]

Construction is underway for a new building that will house an auditorium, accommodation for guests, as well as additional academic space - faculty offices, library and lecture halls. This construction is funded by a grant from the Ministry of Human Resource Development through the University Grants Commission.[3]

Educational programmes



CMI has Ph.D. programmes in Computer Sciences, Mathematics and Physics. Recently, CMI has introduced the possibility of students pursuing a part-time Ph.D. at the Institute.[8]

Since 1998, CMI has offered a B.Sc.(Hons) degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. This three-year program also includes courses in Humanities and Physics.[9] Many students, after completion of the B.Sc. degree, have pursued higher studies in Mathematics and Computer Sciences from universities both in India and abroad. Some students also go into industry while others take up subjects such as finance.[10]

Computer lab

In 2001, CMI began separate M.Sc. programmes in Mathematics and in Computer Science. In 2009, CMI began to offer a new programme M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics.

In 2003, CMI introduced a new three-year programme in the form of a B.Sc.(Hons) degree in Physics. The course topics are largely in theoretical physics. CMI now has its own physics laboratory. From the academic year 2007-2008, the Physics students are having regular lab courses right from the first year.[11] In the academic year 2005-2006, lab sessions for third-year students were conducted at IIT Madras based on an agreement. In the summer following their first year, physics students go to HBCSE (under TIFR) in Mumbai for practical sessions and in the second year, they go to IGCAR, Kalpakkam.[12] However, in 2012, the B.Sc. degree in Physics was restructured as an integrated B.Sc. degree in Mathematics and Physics.

Degrees for the B.Sc. and M.Sc. programmes were earlier offered by MPBOU, the Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University and doctoral degrees by Madras University. After CMI became a deemed university, it gives its own degrees. CMI awarded its first official degrees in August 2007.

The batch sizes typically vary from five to twenty five and the overall strength of CMI is about 100–125 students and 40–50 faculty members.[13]

Nearly all the CMI programmes are run in conjunction and coordination with programmes at IMSc, an institute for research in Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Science and Theoretical Physics, located in Chennai.

Admission criteria

The entrance to each of these courses is based on a nationwide entrance test. The advertisement for this entrance test appears around the end of February or the beginning of March. The entrance test is held in the end of May and is usually scheduled so as not to clash with major entrance examinations. Results are given to students by the end of June.[14]

Students who have passed the Indian National Mathematics Olympiad get direct admission to the programme B.Sc.(Hons.) in Mathematics and Computer Science, and those who have passed the Indian National Physics Olympiad are offered direct entry to the B.Sc.(Hons.) in Physics programme. However, these students are also advised to fill in and send the application form some time in March.[15]

Students who pass the Indian National Olympiad in Informatics may be granted admission to the B.Sc.(Hons.) Mathematics and Computer Science programme. Admission is not guaranteed but is decided on a case-by-case basis by the admissions committee.

Fee structure and other payments

All students, including undergraduate students, are given a stipend to meet their monthly expenses. The tuition fees are waived. Students have to maintain a good academic record for the continuation of their stipend and fee waiver. All students are required to pay hostel and mess fees.

Faculty and research


The founding director of CMI was C. S. Seshadri, who has worked in the area of algebraic geometry especially moduli problems and algebraic groups. He stepped down as Director of CMI in 2010. Rajeeva L. Karandikar was appointed as director of CMI after C. S. Seshadri.[16]

Research Interests

In mathematics, the main areas of research activity have been in algebraic geometry, representation theory, operator algebra, commutative algebra, harmonic analysis, control theory and game theory. Research work includes stratification of binary forms in representation theory, the Donaldson-Uhlenbeck compactification in algebraic geometry, stochastic games, inductive algebras of harmonic analysis, etc.[17]

The research activity in theoretical computer science at CMI has been primarily in computational complexity theory, specification and verification of timed and distributed systems and analysis of security protocols.[17] A computer scientist at CMI extended the deterministic isolation technique for reachability in planar graphs to obtain better complexity upper bounds for planar bipartite matching.

In theoretical physics, research is being carried out mainly in string theory, quantum field theory and mathematical physics.[18] In mathematical physics, research included developing a path integral approach to quantum entanglement. CMI string theorists study problems such as Big-bang like cosmological singularities, embeddings of BKL cosmology, dyons in super-Yang–Mills theories etc.[17]

Other activities

CMI faculty coordinate the training and selection of students to represent India at the International Olympiad in Informatics through the Indian Association for Research in Computing Science (IARCS). CMI hosts the official IARCS website. From September 2004, a monthly online programming competition has been conducted by the CMI faculty via the IARCS website.[17] Two of CMI's faculty members, Madhavan Mukund and Narayan Kumar, lead the Indian team to the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). Madhavan Mukund is also the National Coordinator for the Indian Computing Olympiad.[19]

Student activities



The on-campus hostel was opened in January 2007. All students are expected to stay in the hostel. Security guards are posted in the campus round the clock, including women security guards for the girls wing on all floors. Washing machines are installed in the hostel which is managed by the students. A vehicle is parked in the campus at night for emergencies. Wi-fi facility is available in the campus.[20]


The undergraduate students of CMI organize an annual inter-collegiate student festival Fiesta, supported by corporate and IT companies. Fiesta enjoys participation from students of several Chennai-based colleges including IIT Madras, SRM University, Sathyabama University. Fiesta comprises academic and non-academic events.[21]

Arrangements with other Institutes


CMI's funding comes from both private and government sources.

Government funding

Private funding

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chennai Mathematical Institute.


  1. 1 2 Special Correspondent (2007-02-02). "New Facilities for CMI". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  2. Banumathi Krishnaswamy (2009-07-16). "Future in the making". India Today. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  3. 1 2 "Campus". Chennai Mathematical Institute. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  4. "UGC Act-1956" (PDF). Secretary, University Grants Commission. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  5. "History". Chennai Mathematical Institute. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  6. Special Correspondent (2004-08-07). "Kakodkar cautions against missing research-technology connectivity". Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  7. Staff reporter (2006-05-22). "Grey water recycling in Mathematics Institute". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  8. PhD Programme
  12. 1 2 3 4 5
  14. "Admissions". Chennai Mathematical Institute.
  15. "CMI Annual Report 2005-2006" (PDF).
  16. Caleb, Nithya. "A family tradition". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  17. 1 2 3 4 "CMI Annual Report 2007-08" (PDF). Chennai Mathematical Institute.
  19. "In the league of champions". The Hindu. 2015-07-20. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  20. CMI procedures and policy information sheet, 2008
  21. CMI Annual Report 2008-09 (Report). Chennai Mathematical Institute. 2009.


Coordinates: 12°49′42.34″N 80°13′12.33″E / 12.8284278°N 80.2200917°E / 12.8284278; 80.2200917

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