By K.G. Ramanathan
Subbaramaih minakshi sundaram was born in Tirchur, now in kerala state. On October 12, 1913. His father belonged to Salem in the madras State and was a sanitary engineer by proffession. Minakshisundaram had his early education in madras at the Cunniah Chetty High School. After passing the High School examination in 1929, he joined the Pachaiyappa’s College, madras, for the Intermediate and the Loyola College, Madras, for the B.A (Hons) in Mathematics. The Loyola College was, even in those days, Well known for ‘Producing first class’ at the University examinations and sure enough, young Minakshisundaram, who had shown such marked aptitude for mathematics both at High School and College, obtained in 1934 a first class in the Madras University examination.
Unlike many brilliant young men of that time, Minakshisundaram, or Minakshi as he was called by his more intimate friends, desired to study Mathematics more deeply and take to it as a career instead pf going in for the administrative service which was more lucrative and prestigious. He was initially influenced by Professor K. Ananda Rau, and as a research scholar of the madras University, began studying deeply the problems of summability of series. His passion for summability never left him and significantly his first and last papers have been on problems of summabilty.
As a Research student young Minakshi showed his mettle. His early papers on Tauberian theorems and summability revealed his quick understanding of classical Fourier analysis. Even in his first paper (1) he not only proved a theorem more general than that of Ananda Rau (Proc. London Math. Soc. (2) 34 (1931) 414-440) by a method different from Ananda Rau’s but as Hardy* points out ([C] p. 146-147) Minakshisundram removes the restriction in Ananda Rau’s proof. However the really challenging problems came to him from different sources. In 1937-38 Fr. C. Racine who had just come to India from Paris, having been trained in the famous French School in Analysis, was invited by the Madras University to give a course of ‘Extension lectures’ Fr. Racine lectured on non-linear partial differential equations and especially on the work of Giraud and Gevrey. At about the same time Minakshi met ProffessorM.R. Siddiqui of the Osmania University Hyderabad, who had studied with Lichtenstein in Berlin and had written a thesis on non-linear parabolic and hyhyperbolic equations. Minakshisundaram’s early papers, written under the influence of Siddiqui, carried on where Siddiqui had left and displayed even then analytical finesses of high order. The method of Siddiqui and Lichtenstein, say for the parabolic equation ( the same holds for hyperbolic equations)