I beg to introduce myself to you as a clerk in the Accounts Department of the Port Trust Office at Madras on a salary of only £20 per annum. I am now about 23 years of age. … After leaving school I have been employing the spare time at my disposal to work at Mathematics.
The above lines are the opening lines from the First letter to G.H Hardy (16 Jan 1913) by S.Ramanujan. One of the Greatest Mathematician from India of all Time. The man about whom you never heard much in your school’s text books.
Srinivasa Iyengar Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician and an autodidact, born on 22 December 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu, India to a poor Brahmin family. He was the pure genius in the field of Mathematics. It is the work and the research of Ramanujan which make him so special that John Edensor Littlewood, British Mathematician said ” Forget Jacobi, we can compare him with Newton. I have come to believe that for Ramanujan,
every single positive integer is one of his personal friends”. – courtesy: The Man Who Knew Infinity(movie).
Some Facts About S. Ramanujan
1. Man who Knew Infinity
He compiled 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations), before he lost his life at the age of 32. His infinite series for pi was one of his most celebrated findings without having any formal training in Mathematics.
2. Lost in Maths
At the age of 17, he conducted his own mathematical research on Bernoulli numbers and the Euler–Mascheroni constant for which he got scholarship to study in a Government College in Kumbakonam, but lost it when he failed his non-mathematical coursework.
3. Natural or Spiritual Power engaged in his work
When G.H Hardy, an English Mathematician and an academic adviser for S. Ramanujan, asked Ramanujan about the intuition of Ramanujan for his Mathematical Theorems and Proves, Ramanujan answered that his God Namagiri, a form of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi puts formulas on his tongue when he sleeps. He said “An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.”
4. Second Indian to be inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society
Fellow of the Royal Society or FRS is an award and fellowship granted by the Royal Society of London to individuals the society judges to have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science. Ramanujan was the Second Indian to be inducted as FRS. The first Indian was Ardaseer Cursetjee (Wadia),an Indian shipbuilder and engineer.
5. National Mathematics Day
On S. Ramanujan’s 125th birthday our former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh declared 22 December as National Mathematics Day and also released a postage stamp on 22 December 2012.
6. 1729 – Taxicab Number
1729 is a natural number, also known as Hardy-Ramanujan Number. A short amusing story behind this, is regarding a visit to the hospital to see the Ramanujan. Hardy words :
I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. “No,” he replied, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.
7.At very young age he mastered Loney’s Trigonometry
A book of Advanced Trigonometry written by S.L Loney was given to Ramanujan which he studied and mastered at age of 12 years.
8. Achievements of S. Ramanujan
- Divergent Series
- Hyper Geometric Series and Continued Fraction
- Definite Integrals
- Elliptic Functions
- Partition Function
- Theory of Numbers
- Partition of Whole Numbers
- Highly Composite Number
Despite of many brilliant results, some of his theorems on prime numbers were completely wrong.
9. Demise of the Legend
His health worsened in England. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency, and was confined to a sanatorium. Many reports confirms that he was suffering from Malnutrition as in London it was difficult to have pure vegetarian food for a pure vegetarian(specially Brahmin) like Ramanujan at that time. Due to this Ramanujan died at the age of 32 on 26 April 1920.
10. The Lost Notebook
The lost notebook of Ramanujan(not a book) is a manuscript in which he recorded his mathematical discoveries of the last year of his life. It consists of 87 loose and unordered sheets of paper, with more than 600 of Ramanujan’s formulas. Later it was rediscovered by George Andrews in 1976, in a box of effects of G. N. Watson stored at the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Many of Ramanujan’s work and theorems later proves to be correct after his death which were in controversy among the FRS.
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