Biographies

Srinivasa Ramanujan : Indian mathematician

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born in southern India in 1887. After demonstrating an intuitive grasp of mathematics at a young age, he began to develop his own theories and in 1911 published his first paper in India. Two years later Ramanujan began a correspondence with British mathematician G. H. Hardy that resulted in a five-year-long mentorship for Ramanujan at Cambridge, where he published numerous papers on his work and received a B.S. for research. His early work focused on infinite series and integrals, which extended into the remainder of his career. After contracting tuberculosis, Ramanujan returned to India, where he died in 1920 at 32 years of age.

Quick facts

FULL NAME :  Srinivasa Ramanujan

FAMOUS AS : Mathematician

NATIONALITY : Indian

BORN ON : 22 December 1887

BIRTHDAY : 22nd December

DIED AT AGE : 32

SUN SIGN : Sagittarius

PLACE OF BIRTH : Erode, Madras Presidency, British Raj (now Tamil Nadu, India)

DIED ON : 26 April 1920

PLACE OF DEATH : Chetput

SPOUSE/PARTNER: Janaki Ammal

Major Works

Considered to be a mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, was regarded at par with the likes of Leonhard Euler and Carl Jacobi. Along with Hardy, he studied the partition function P(n) extensively and gave a non-convergent asymptotic series that permits exact computation of the number of partitions of an integer. Their work led to the development of a new method for finding asymptotic formulae, called the circle method.

Early Life and Education

      When he was 15 years old, he obtained a copy of George Shoobridge Carr’s Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics, 2 vol. (1880–86). This collection of thousands of theorems, many presented with only the briefest of proofs and with no material newer than 1860, aroused his genius. Having verified the results in Carr’s book, Ramanujan went beyond it, developing his own theorems and ideas. In 1903 he secured a scholarship to the University of Madras but lost it the following year because he neglected all other studies in pursuit of mathematics.

Ramanujan continued his work, without employment and living in the poorest circumstances. After marrying in 1909 he began a search for permanent employment that culminated in an interview with a government official, Ramachandra Rao. Impressed by Ramanujan’s mathematical prowess, Rao supported his research for a time, but Ramanujan, unwilling to exist on charity, obtained a clerical post with the Madras Port Trust.

Personal Life & Legacy

  • He was married to a ten-year-old girl named Janakiammal in July 1909 when he was in his early 20s. The marriage was arranged by his mother. The couple did not have any children, and it is possible that the marriage was never consummated.
  • Ramanujan suffered from various health problems throughout his life. His health declined considerably while he was living in England as the climatic conditions did not suit him.
  • Also, he was a vegetarian who found it extremely difficult to obtain nutritious vegetarian food in England.
  • He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency during the late 1910s and returned home to Madras in 1919. He never fully recovered and breathed his last on 26 April 1920, aged just 32.
  • His birthday, 22 December, is celebrated as ‘State IT Day’ in his home state of Tamil Nadu. On the 125th anniversary of his birth, India declared his birthday as ‘National Mathematics Day.’

 Death

Srinivasa Ramanujan died of his illness on April 26, 1920, at the age of 32. And even on his deathbed had been consumed by math, writing down a group of theorems that he said had come to him in a dream. These and many of his earlier theorems are so complex that the full scope of Ramanujan’s legacy has yet to be completely revealed and his work remains the focus of much mathematical research. His collected papers were published by Cambridge University Press in 1927.


Awards & Achievements

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  • He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918, as one of the youngest Fellows in the history of the Royal Society. He was elected “for his investigation in Elliptic functions and the Theory of Numbers.”
  • The same year, he was also elected a Fellow of Trinity College—the first Indian to be so honored.

Quotes and Sayings by Ramanujan

An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God.
No, it is a very interesting number, it is the smallest number expressible as a sum of two cubes in two different ways.
  I think myself obliged, whatever my private apprehensions may be of the success, to do my duty, and leave events to their disposer.

Some Unknown Facts About Ramanujan

  • Ramanujan was a lonely child in school as his peers could never understand him.
  • He hailed from a poor family and used a slate instead of paper to jot down the results of his derivations.
  • He did not receive any formal training in pure mathematics!
  • He lost his scholarship to study at Government Arts College as he was so obsessed with mathematics that he failed to clear other subjects.
  • Ramanujan did not possess a college degree.
  • He wrote to several prominent mathematicians, but most of them did not even respond as they dismissed him as a crank due to the lack of sophistication in his works.
  • He became a victim of racism in England.
  • The number 1729 is called Hardy-Ramanujan number in his honor following an incident regarding a taxi with this number.
  • A biographical film in Tamil based on Ramanujan’s life was released in 2014.
  • Google honored him on his 125th birth anniversary by replacing its logo with a doodle on its home page.

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