StemINSPIRE

SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN – THE INDIAN MATHEMATICIAN

SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN was renowned mathematician known for his contributions in the field of number theory, fractions and mathematical analysis.

Srinivasa Ramanujan - The Indian Mathematician

SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN was renowned mathematician known for his contributions in the field of number theory, fractions and mathematical analysis. He wasn’t even formally trained in mathematics before he started working on carrying out his research work on the subject without taking anyone’s help. He was a brilliant student known to solve complicated mathematics problems easily.

LIFE AND EDUCATION

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22nd December 1887 in Erode, Madras Presidency, British Raj and died on 26th April 1920 in Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency, British Raj. In 1889, he contracted small pox which was a deadly disease at that time with no cure but he recovered.

In 1982, he started his school studies at Kangayan Primary School despite having no interest in it. But he was a bright student who excelled in his studies, especially mathematics. In 1897, he got admission in Town Higher Secondary School for further studies. He loved mathematics so much that he was able to solve complex problems at a very young age. He got various academic certificates, merits and awards for that.

Once, he took an advanced trigonometry book by S.L Loney and solved it completely. He was just 13 at that time! He is said to have loved the mathematics from the very beginning. However, after solving the book by G.S. Carr called ‘A synopsis of elementary results in pure and applied mathematics’, consisting of over 5000 theorems, he is said to fall more passionately in love with maths.

He was a young genius who developed and investigated the Bernoulli numbers by the time he turned 17. He could even calculate the Euler-Mascheroni constant to 15 decimal places. His mind was completely absorbed by mathematics. In 1904, after graduating, his headmaster, Krishnaswami Iyer, gave him the K. Ranganatha Rao Prize in mathematics. It was because of scholarship that he could go to the Government Arts College.

But his love for mathematics had consumed him so much that he failed at other subjects and his scholarship was cancelled. Even in Pachaiyappa’s College, Madras, he failed in all other subjects except maths. He could not clear his college exams and had to quit without receiving any degree. He didn’t stop his research work.

After spending a lot of time in poverty, he obtained a clerical post in Madras Port Trust. R. Ramachandra Rao, the secretary of Indian Mathematical Society was impressed by his knowledge about hypergeometric series, elliptic integrals and divergent series. Rao helped Ramanujan to publish his work on Bernoulli numbers in 1911 in ‘Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society’.

He gained fame because of his paper. He found correspondence in Godfrey H. Hardy in 1913 who collaborated with Ramanujan in mathematics. In 1916, he received a BSc in research. However, his untimely death cut short his tenure.

SOME FACTS YOU SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW ABOUT SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN

Ø  His father was a clerk to a cloth merchant while his mother sung devotional songs at the temples.

Ø  At Kumbakonam, his house is presently regarded as the Srinivasa Ramanujan International Monument.

Ø  In 1909, he married a nine-year-old girl named Janaki Ammal. They had no children whatsoever.

Ø  Despite having no formal training in the field of mathematics, he earned his name as one of the greatest mathematicians of his time. He used intuition to guide him. But his theories were proven to be true later on.

Ø  The Royal Society was known to be the society for world’s most renowned and famous scientists. He was the second Indian and youngest fellow ever to attain a Fellowship of the Royal Society. He was only 31 when he was admitted into the society.

Ø  He was a firm believer in Mahalakshmi Goddess whom he credited for all his work and achievements.

Ø  Before dying at the young age of 32, he had managed to compile and write 3900 identities and equations. One of his most famous findings was the infinite series for the pi.

Ø  In Chennai, there is a complete museum dedicated to Ramanujan and his teachings. His work, letters to acquaintances, photographs etc have all found a place there. P. K. Srinivasan was responsible for compiling the material together for the museum.

Ø  He had died on 22nd of December which is celebrated as the National Mathematics Day in India every year and State IT Day in Tamil Nadu.

Ø  One weird face about Ramanujan remains that he used to write down all his ideas in copies or notebooks by using green coloured ink only. His notebook was found by George Andrews at Trinity College Library in 1976. His notebook was later compiled into a book form.

Ø  He received no formal college degree and his scholarship to Government Arts College was cancelled because he excelled at maths and failed at all other subjects.

Ø  He had been subjected to racism in England.

Ø  In 1918, he became the first Indian to become a Fellow of Trinity College.