Srinivasa Ramanujan

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Undoubtedly, Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of the best mathematicians of all time and still continues to be. He had a magnificent capability of handling mathematical sums and formulas and not only that, he has deeply rooted himself in the studies of religion too. His contributions to mathematics can never be forgotten even after he rests in peace. Here is an attempt to present his life and works in a nutshell. I hope readers will benefit from this.

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Personal life:
Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22nd December 1887 in Madras presidency. He was born in a poor Brahmin family. His father was a clerk in a saree shop and mother was a singer in a local temple. Ramanujan himself was born with some disabilities and he was unable to speak for more than 3 years as a growing child and it was a worry. His parents were afraid that he would never speak again! However, the fate of this brilliant person was having something different in the store. He did not only speak but his words became immortal!

Due to poverty, his studies were disturbed. Sometimes he had to stay with the paternal grandfather and sometimes with maternal grandfather and in due course, his primary education was badly affected. Somehow, he managed to pass the examination and topped in his school. He was then admitted to the high school where he was introduced to formal mathematics for the first time in his life. He found a connection with mathematics and started developing ideas. He topped in his matriculation examination in the district and got a scholarship to further continue his studies. His personal life was full of poverty and miseries and seldom he found himself free from these barriers. He married to Janki and that created more pressure on him to get a job. In search of a job, he went to Madras and his life changed there dramatically.

His Works:
Though he found a job of a clerk in Madras, this can’t be matched with his personality. He remained associated with mathematics and published his first paper ‘properties of Bernoulli’s numbers’ in the Madras journal of mathematics. He has reached a hight where his desire could not be quenched by a normal person but only a prominent mathematician could do that. He wrote a letter to G. H. Hardy and it was accepted by Hardy, a renowned mathematician at that time. He went to London to continue his research work under G. H. Hardy. He became the youngest person to be awarded a fellowship and become a ‘fellow of the royal society’. His works completely defeated Hardy and Hardy once told ‘what he has done in two years we (me & Littlewood) cannot do in even 100 years’. In his short span of life, he solved almost 3900 mathematical identities and all are proven true. His areas of interest include infinite series, definite integrals, gamma function, hypergeometric, Diophantine equation, congruences, and magic squares. He has written three notebooks and published thirty-seven mathematical papers. His famous one is the ‘the lost notebook’ published worldwide by many publishers after his death and opens the gate for further research on these topics. He was very much fascinated with numbers and most of his theories are associated with number series. Remarkable men not only in mathematics but in all disciplines!

Beyond a mathematician:
He was a prodigy and often was found asking tough questions to his teachers. He was always in search of infinity that’s why his biography is titled as ‘the man who knew infinity’. Once Hardy asked him, ‘how do you solve these problems?’ and he humbly replied, ‘it comes to me and an equation has no meaning to me unless I can see the presence of the divine, God in this’. He was an ardent follower of Vedas and Puranas that’s why his most of the works are philosophical in tone and nature. I just want to end this by saying, who am I to say anything about this great man! For whom Hardy once told, ‘in a scale of hundred I rate my self twenty, Littlewood fifty, Euler eighty and Ramanujan a complete hundred’. To observe the greatness of this mathematician Ramanujan, the nation celebrates National Mathematics Day on 22 December every year!


written by Amit Mishra

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