Manil Suri, Mathematics, Writes New York Times Op-Ed on Recent Beef Ban in Parts of India

manil suriIn his second published column since being named a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, mathematics professor Manil Suri wrote about the recent ban of beef in some parts of India. Suri’s column, titled “A Ban on Beef in India is Not the Answer,” examines the political and historical motivations for the ban and its implications on personal freedoms and the economy.

“The laws have affected more than just restaurants. Thousands of butchers and vendors, their livelihood abruptly suspended, have protested in Mumbai. The leather industry is in turmoil. Beef is consumed not only by Indian Muslims and Christians, but also by many low-caste Hindus, for whom it is an essential source of affordable protein,” Suri wrote.

Suri also analyzed the recent beef ban in the context of the larger debate on equality in India: “Indian civilization has evolved over the centuries to include multiple diverse communities with competing interests. Despite its secular Constitution, India remains strikingly unequal. The government must make every effort to balance majority sentiments with minority needs. This is what the previous rules that restricted cow, but not bull, slaughter did,” Suri wrote, adding, “Imposing ideals from a mythic past is not the answer. The true lesson to take away from history is how utilitarian goals can shape religious custom. Hinduism has always been a pragmatic religion; what today’s India needs is accommodation.”

To read the full New York Times column, click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, Named Contributing Opinion Writer for the New York Times

Mathematics professor Manil Suri has been named a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. In this role, Suri will publish columns around once a month. To read an announcement published in Capital New York, click here.

Manil Suri 2In light of Pi Day celebrated on March 14 and this year celebrated as a once-in-a-century event with the full date in line with the first five digits of pi’s decimal expansion, Suri published his first column about understanding what pi truly is, the history behind it, and why it remains so significant.

At the beginning of his column, Suri explained how pi’s importance can be found in many places: “And yet pi, being the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is manifested all around us. For instance, the meandering length of a gently sloping river between source and mouth approaches, on average, pi times its straight-line distance. Pi reminds us that the universe is what it is, that it doesn’t subscribe to our ideas of mathematical convenience.”

Suri also discussed what pi can tell us about computers as they’ve developed over the last several decades: “With the advent of computers, pi offered a proving ground for successively faster models. But eventually, breathless headlines about newly cracked digits became less compelling, and the big players moved on. Recent records (currently in the trillions of digits) have mostly been set on custom-built personal computers. The history of pi illustrates how far computing has progressed, and how much we now take it for granted.”

To read the full column published in the New York Times, click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, and Michele Osherow, English, Reflect on Experience Performing “The Mathematics of Being Human”

ManilSuriHeadShotIn an article in the March 6 edition of India Abroad magazine, Mathematics professor Manil Suri discussed the play he performed and co-wrote with English associate professor Michele Osherow, “The Mathematics of Being Human.” The play is an outgrowth of a seminar that the two professors jointly taught that bridged their areas of expertise. In the article, Suri participated in a Q&A about the play and his experience teaching with Osherow. To read the full article, click here.

Michele OsherowSuri and Osherow, both alumni of Carnegie Mellon University, were also interviewed for a recent news article on the university’s website about the play. In the story, they discussed the value of teaching a course that combined study of math and literature. “We’re trying to suggest that interdisciplinary teaching is extremely hard — there’s something to pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone,” Osherow said.

On March 8, the “Mathematics of Being Human” will make its New York City premiere at the National Museum of Mathematics. For more information, click here. In addition, Suri and Osherow will be performing an excerpt of the play on math and King Lear at the National Academy of Science’s DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) on March 19 in Washington, D.C. The performance will be held to celebrate the Man Ray exhibit “A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare” at the Phillips. For more information, click here

March 19 update: to read a Washington Post article about “The Mathematics of Being Human, click here.    

Manil Suri, Mathematics, Writes New York Times Op-Ed

On Tuesday, November 4, The New York Times published an op-ed written by Mathematics Professor Manil Suri that urges India’s government to see discrimination as both an economic and moral problem.

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In the column, Suri writes about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s coming-out essay in Bloomberg Businessweek and an unidentified 32-year-old engineer for the Indian software company Infosys, who as Suri writes, “faces a much bleaker future,” than Cook. Cook’s essay established him as the first openly gay C.E.O. of a Fortune 500 company. “The announcement generated considerable optimism that with his influence and visibility he would be a force for far-reaching advocacy in years to come,” Suri wrote. The 32-year-old Indian man was arrested under Section 377 of India’s penal code, which makes homosexual conduct punishable by prison.

“If India wants to become a true global powerhouse, its government should begin to see discrimination as an economic problem, as well as a moral one,” Suri writes. “Mr. Cook has characterized writing his essay as laying a brick for justice. Now we need political leaders bold enough to lay the rest of the path, so that millions of others like him can normalize their lives and explore their full potential.”

To read the full column titled “Exposing the ‘Bagalore Techie,'” click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, To Present at Kriti Festival as Author Guest of Honor

ManilSuriHeadShotThe Kriti Festival is one of the largest South Asian literature festivals in North America and will be held from September 25-28 at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Mathematics Professor Manil Suri has been named the festival’s author guest of honor and will be addressing the gathering on Saturday, September 27 in Chicago.

The following is an excerpt from the festival’s website outlining Suri’s accomplishments: “[Suri’s] first novel, The Death of Vishnu (2001), won the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize, was a finalist for the Pen-Faulkner, Kiriyama and Pen-Hemingway awards, and on the long list for the Booker Prize. His second novel, The Age of Shiva (2008), was listed as one of the best 25 books of the decade by the website Contemporary Literature on About.com. His third novel, The City of Devi (2013) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and won a Bisexual Book Award. The three novels form a trilogy based on the trinity of Hindu gods Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and correspond to the present, past and imagined future of India.”

For more information on the event, click here.

While Suri was in Chicago, he was also interviewed by WBEZ Radio about mathematics, stereotypes and homosexuality on the popular program, “Afternoon Shift.” To listen to the full segment, click here.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, in India Currents

The Indian-American magazine India Currents is a monthly publication that focuses on exploring the heritage and culture of India as it exists in the United States. The magazine is published in three print editions across the U.S. in Northern California, Southern California and Washington, D.C. and is also accessible digitally. It has the largest circulation among Indian publications in the United States.

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In its August issue, India Currents featured a cover story and discussion between Mathematics Professor Manil Suri and A.X. Ahmad, author of The Caretaker (IC, September 2013) and the recently-released The Last Taxi Ride—books one and two of the Ranjit Singh Trilogy. Suri is author of Death of Vishnu, The Age of Shiva, and City of Devi. The two authors discussed how Bollywood has influenced their writing. Below is an excerpt from the article in which Suri discusses how Bollywood resonates in the City of Devi:

The book is made to reflect on some of the larger-than-life aspects of Bollywood movies. The Superdevi herself arrives in one scene, she’s made up like a Bollywood star, and there are special effects and all of that. Once I got into this, the whole book became immersed in this Bollywood imagery….it was a deliberate playing with the genre. My book is about the end of the world seen through the eyes of Bollywood, and that was something I liked because it gave the novel the right flair. You don’t want the end of the world to be depressing! If you’re going to go out, go out in Bollywood style!

The magazine also featured a review of the City of Devi in which writer Jeanne E. Fredriksen wrote, “the story is beautifully told as an all-encompassing romance and present-day end time saga via alternating sections of Sarita’s and Jaz’s chronicles. Moreover, their stories internally alternate between past and present until there is nowhere to go but to move forward together.”

To read the featured article with Suri, “Bollywood Ties, Literary Knots,” click here. To read the review of City of Devi, click here.

UMBC Postdoctoral Fellow Evelyn Thomas Profiled in SIAM News

Evelyn ThomasEvelyn Thomas, a faculty diversity postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and statistics, is featured in a new profile in SIAM News, a widely read newspaper sponsored by the professional organization Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The profile was written by Mathematics Professor Manil Suri.

The article illustrates the challenges and opportunities Thomas has encountered over the course of her career and describes her motivation for researching her doctoral dissertation.

In the article, Suri also writes about the work Thomas has begun since arriving at UMBC for her postdoc, including starting a new epidemiological project based on the rise of cholera in Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010 and continuing work on projects with social engagement.

“I hope to communicate to everyday people that if there are problems they see in their communities: HIV/AIDS, gun violence, racism, sexism, homophobia—anything—a solution does lie within mathematics,” Thomas said.

To read the full profile in SIAM News, click here. For more on the 2013-2015 UMBC faculty diversity postdoctoral fellows, click here.