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Who was Srinivasa Ramanujan?

Updated: December 22, 2012, 3:51 PM IST
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Who was Srinivasa Ramanujan?
In December 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared 2012 as the 'National Mathematical year' as a tribute to maths wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan.

New Delhi: Celebrating Srinivasa Ramanujan's 125th birthday, Google posted a doodle on its homepage. The doodle features a boy trying to solve some mathematical equations and geometrical figures, which form the letters of the word 'Google'. But who was Srinivasa Ramanujan?

Born on 22 December 1887, Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. He was an autodidact. Living in India with no access to the larger mathematical community, Srinivasa Ramanujan came up with his own mathematical research in isolation.

Ramanujan was born in a poor Hindu Brahmin family. His introduction to formal mathematics began at age 10. He demonstrated a natural ability. By the age of 12, he mastered books on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney. Ramanujan discovered theorems of his own.

On 14 July 1909, Ramanujan got married to Janaki Ammal, a ten-year old bride.

In 1912-1913, he sent out samples of his theorems to three academics at the University of Cambridge. His brilliance was recgonised and he was invited to visit and work at Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

On 26 April 1920, Ramanujan died of illness, malnutrition, and possibly liver infection at the age of 32.

In December 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared 2012 as the 'National Mathematical year' as a tribute to maths wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan. Singh also declared December 22, the birthday of Ramanujan, as 'National Mathematics Day.'

"A genius like Ramanujan would shine bright even in the most adverse of circumstances, but we should be geared to encourage and nurture good talent which may not be of the same calibre as that of Ramanujan", Singh had once said.

It is believed that a biography of Ramanujan named "The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan," written by Professor Robert Kanigel has made Ramanujan well known to the public at large all over the world.

Along with CV Raman and Subramanyam Chandrashekhar (both Nobel laureates), Srinivasa Ramanujan is said to be among the three great men of science and mathematics that Tamil Nadu and India have given to the world of modern times.

Sharing his thoughts on Srinivasa Ramanujan, the great mathematician, after whom the year was named as the National Year of Mathematics, Dr Kalam said, "Ramanujan lived for 33 years only. But he was an exceptional mathematician."

First Published: December 22, 2012, 3:51 PM IST
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