Calcutta, Nov. 22: Mathematics ceases to be a drab subject the moment you log into Gonitsora.com, a bilingual website launched by a team of enthusiastic students from Tezpur University in an attempt to make number crunching a fun experience.
The website is a real boon for maths enthusiasts and a pleasant surprise for those who break into a sweat at the very mention of algebra and trigonometry in school.
In Assamese and English, it incorporates news, articles, cartoons, interviews, reviews, quiz, a problem-solving section and more.
In a nutshell, the past, present and future of mathematics are all here up for browsing.
"Nowadays students do not go beyond the curriculum in most places. We wanted to create a diversion from this straight-jacketed approach and entice the students into newer dimensions. As G.H. Hardy, the British mathematician, said, 'Beauty is the first test'; there is no place in this world for ugly mathematics," says Manjil P. Saikia, co-editor of the website.
"It involves learning more fun stuff and appreciating the real joy of mathematics," he adds.
Developed by students from the department of mathematical sciences, it breaks free from the traditional barriers of a rigid education.
Initially, Pankaj Jyoti Mahanta, then a first year MSc student, came up with the idea of a printed version in Assamese and English.
However, the idea was dropped because of financial problems. Manjil, then a second year under-graduate student and Pankaj then decided to launch the website.
"Pankaj and I decided that creating a website would be cheaper and have a broader medium of communication. The fact that there was nothing of this kind, inspired us to create something new," he said.
With Manjil and Pankaj as the editors, there is a dedicated team of consulting editors for other subjects. They are Madhurrya P. Talukdar of the department of physics, Tezpur University, Salik Miskat Borbora of Darrang College, Tezpur, Rupam Haloi, department of mathematical sciences, Tezpur University and Manohar Prabhu of Infosys.
The advisory committee comprises Dilip Kumar Sharma of the department of mathematics, Cotton College, Guwahati, Prof. Nayandeep Deka Baruah, dean of science and technology, Tezpur University, Palash Moni Saikia, of the department of chemistry, Darrang College, Tezpur and Santonu Goswami, University of Texas, El Paso in the US.
"Gonitsora.com is very encouraging news for students of Assam. The website shall guide the coming generation by popularising mathematics and algorithms," says Utpal Kumar Bhattacharjee, a fan of the website.
"We publish interviews of prominent mathematicians in the hope that students might be encouraged to emulate them and create a niche for themselves. Our aim is also to introduce talented students of the region (especially Assam)," Manjil says.
The developers also plan to include a forum for students to post questions regarding mathematics, to be answered by reputed faculty from various parts of the world.
Another proposed project is a website devoted to the life and works of Ramanujan, currently under construction.
The other plans include a career-counselling website specifically devoted to students of the Northeast, a print edition of collected articles on Gonitsora.com's first anniversary and the publication of question papers of examinations.
With this it has already put up NET, GATE, TIFR, INMO, IMO question papers of 2011.
It also caters to a wider audience than an English-only website.
"Moreover, we still have plans to try a printed version," said Pankaj.
"The articles of the website are its USP and we have plans to upgrade the career section soon. We are constantly striving for perfection," he added.
Prof. Nayandeep Deka Baruah of the advisory committee, said the website has scope for improvement. "There should be more articles on recent advances in mathematics and a section that notifies awards and introduction of the winners, particularly at the national and international levels," he said.
At present, the website gets nearly 1,800-2,000 visits and nearly 300 unique visitors per day.
They also receive articles from people across the country, including Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.
Prof. Bruce C. Berndt from the University of Illinois in the US, prominent analytical number theorist, is also enthusiastic about the website and its prospects.
Creators of popular websites, such as Satyakam Dutta, the creator of Sakori.org, Buljit Buragohain (IIT, Guwahati) and Bikram M. Baruah (creator of Xobdo.org) have also appreciated the website.Anita Chhetri, a numbers enthusiast from Delhi, puts it aptly, "I came across the website on a social networking site and now log in everyday. You can say I am addicted. Now my own subject seems much more interesting."