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Srinivasa Ramanujan : The Man Who Knew Infinity

A mathematical genius

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Srinivasa Ramanujan. Wikimedia Commons
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By Pashchiema Bhatia

Srinivasa Ramanujan died when he was just 32 but he left behind is astonishing and remarkable. During his short life, he held a record of assimilation of around 3,500 mathematical results. Not belonging to a well-to-do family, his life is an inspiring story.

Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who was brought up in Erode, Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu). He spent his childhood in Kumbakonam and the house where he lived is now known as Srinivasa Ramanujan International Monument which is maintained by a private deemed university. At the age of 13, he mastered a book on advanced trigonometry by S.L. Loney and later he studied a book called ‘A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics’ by G.S. Carr with a collection of 5000 theorems. He used to complete his mathematical exams in half the allotted time. He was a promising student who won several academic awards throughout his school life but he was so immersed in maths that he failed in other subjects of his college exams. As a college dropout and with a responsibility to support his family he had to struggle for years. Eventually, he secured a job as a clerk in Madras Port Trust and published his work on Bernoulli numbers.

His life took a turn when his array of letters to GH Hardy, a Fellow of the Royal Society and Cayley Lecturer in Mathematics at Cambridge, got a response. He had written a letter packed with 120 theorems and after getting his letter and confirming that he is not a crank, Hardy enthusiastically wrote back to Ramanujan inviting him to Cambridge and in March 1914, he moved to England.

Related: Aryabhata: The man from Bihar who gave world the concept of modern day Mathematics

The journey of the collaboration of Hardy-Ramanujan began. Ramanujan was a man of mysterious intuitions and Hardy was intrigued by his uncanny ways of handling infinite series. In England, Ramanujan got the recognition as a mathematician that he was hoping for. In 1916, he was granted a Bachelor of Science degree “by research” and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918. But their partnership did not last for long as Ramanujan fell ill and returned to India in 1918. He died in 1919. After his death, his brother discovered his scribbled papers and several notebooks with loads of theorems which were later studied and used by many mathematicians.

Matthew Brown’s movie “The Man Who Knew Infinity” (released on Friday, April 29, 2016) is a movie based on the biography written by Robert Kanigel in 1991. The movie features the life of Ramanujan in Cambridge and the productive collaboration and friendship of Hardy and Ramanujan.

 

Pashchiema is an intern at NewsGram and a student of journalism and mass communication in New Delhi. Twitter: @pashchiema5

 

Aryabhata: The man from Bihar who gave world the concept of modern day Mathematics

Aryabhata: The man from Bihar who gave world the concept of modern day Mathematics

Aryabhata: The man from Bihar who gave world the concept of modern day Mathematics

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On National Mathematics Day, 10 amazing facts about Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa is credited with crucial contributions like infinite series, number theory, and continued fractions.

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Srinivasa Ramanujan was only second Indian to be offered fellowship in Royal Society.
Srinivasa Ramanujan was only second Indian to be offered fellowship in Royal Society.

NEW DELHI: Srinivasa Ramanujan is considered as one of the top mathematician gems ever lived in India. His extraordinary mind and unbeatable logics got him noticed by the mathematics scholar all over the world. He was born on 22 December 1887. He is credited with crucial contributions like infinite series, number theory, and continued fractions.

To get the better understanding of mathematics, he initiated a postal internship with an English mathematician, GH Hardy in 1913. Soon, Hardy was able to recognize the marvelous talent of Srinivasa and took him along to Cambridge University.

Following are some of the facts that sum up the works of Srinivasa Ramanujan:

1. Embarked his career on a Mathematics book
Srinivasa belonged to a very financially weak background and wasn’t in a position to buy books and copies. Thus, he borrowed a copy of Loney’s book on Plane Trigonometry, from one of his friends. This book was published by Cambridge University Press in 1894.

One other book which laid his sturdy foundation was ‘A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics’. Both these books helped him to get through the basics of 20th-century mathematics.

2. Grew on his own skills
Srinivasa didn’t get any kind of support from anywhere and learned all the academic knowledge on his own. Many of his work was the result of his mere intuition. His these efforts helped him to be known as one of the great mathematicians of all times.

3. Honoured as a Fellow of the Royal Society
Srinivasa is one of the youngest fellows in the history of the Royal Society and the only second Indian to reach such heights. He achieved this feat when he was 31 years old in 1918.During his course of three years in fellowship, Srinivasa published more than 30 research papers. And also he worked on half a dozen research papers.

4. Authored 3,900 results by the age of 32
Srinivasa didn’t live long enough and his life journey was cut short at a very young age of 32 only. But he made full use of his time and compiled 3.900 results, mostly on identities and equations. Apart from this, his most memorable discovery in the mathematics field is The Infinite Series of Pi.

Srinivasan is regarded as an imminent mathematician for his work
Srinivasan is regarded as an imminent mathematician for his work

5. An exclusive museum dedicated to Srinivasa

There is a dedicated museum situated in Chennai, in the glorious memory of Srinivasa Ramanujan. The museum is decorated with many of his pictures along with his family members. Apart from that, the museum holds his many letters and life stories. The credit to laud his efforts goes to Late P.K. Srinivasan. He himself was an eminent mathematician.

6. December 22, is remembered as the National Mathematics Day
Srinivasa was born on December 22, and to immortalise his work in the field of math’s, this date is celebrated as the National Mathematics Day every year. He has been a tremendous inspiration to our many generations to come and will be remembered as a great mathematical scholar of India.

7. Mastered Loney’s Trigonometry by the age of 13
By the time Srinivasa turned 13, he had completed advanced Trigonometry by Loney’s and not only this but he also worked out on many complex theorems through his own logic. He is rightly considered as a child prodigy by many historians and scholars.

8. Earned his Ph.D. degree from Cambridge
After learning about Srinivasa’s ability in Maths, GH Hardy took him to Cambridge University. There is spelled his professors with his exceptional potential and knowledge. After devoting his full five years in Cambridge University, he was awarded his Ph.D. degree in mathematics.

9. Devotee of goddess Mahalakshmi
Srinivas was a very religious kind of person and staunchly believed in almighty. His personal favorite was goddess Mahalakshmi of Namakkal and credited her for all his achievements. He even said, “An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.” Throughout his life, he followed a very strict vegetarian diet.

10. House turned into monument
Srinivas residence in Kumbakonam is now retained as the Srinivasa Ramanujan International monument. After his birth, his family along with him moved to this residence and hence it was the set of his official residence.