Born on December 22, 1887, Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of India’s greatest mathematical geniuses. He made substantial contributions to the analytical theory of numbers and worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series. Despite no formal training in the subject, Ramanujan made significant contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and continued fractions.
At the age of 31, Ramanujan was one of the youngest members of Britain’s Royal Society and the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University. December 22 is the birth anniversary of Ramanujan, and observed as National Mathematics Day.
On his 98th death anniversary, here are 10 facts from the life of India’s great mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.
1. Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on December 22, 1887, in present-day Tamil Nadu. His breakthrough came in 1913 when he began a postal partnership with the English mathematician GH Hardy at the University of Cambridge in England. Recognizing the extraordinary work sent to him as samples by Ramanujan, Mr Hardy arranged for his travel to Cambridge.
2. His house in Kumbakonam, where the family had moved after his birth, is now maintained as the Srinivasa Ramanujan International Monument.
3. Mr Hardy, after going through his original letters, had said that a ‘single look’ was enough to show that they were written by a mathematician of highest caliber. He even compared Ramanujan to other mathematical geniuses such as Euler and Jacobi.
4. He was first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
5.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. He is known for discovering Landau-Ramanujan constant, Mock theta functions, Ramanujan conjecture, Ramanujan prime, Ramanujan-Soldner constant, Ramanujan theta function, Ramanujan’s sum, Rogers-Ramanujan identities and Ramanujan’s master theorem.
6. His formulas, theories and equations opened an entire new area of work and inspired further research. Nearly all his claims have now been proven right.
7. One of his notebooks that contained discoveries from the last year of his life was considered to be lost, but caused great excitement among mathematicians when it was re-discovered in 1976.
8. On personal front, Srinivas Ramanujan was a strict vegetarian and follower of goddess Mahalakshmi of Namakkal. “An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God,” he had said.
9. He was married to Janaki Ammal in 1909, who was 9-year-old at that time.
10. He died at a young age of 32 in 1920 reportedly due to hepatic amoebiasis. He also suffered from dysentery and severe vitamin deficiencies.
The world remembered the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan again, as a biopic on his life, The Man Who Knew Infinity.
Ramanujan lived a short but very productive life and continues to be an inspiration for mathematicians across the world. He was a pure genius, isn’t it?