# World’s Super Scientists – Ramanujan Srinivasa

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The Greatest Mathematician, did Mathematrics (tricks in maths) Human brain is a Super-Computer – Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 to 1920) World-famous Indian Mathematician, son of  Srinivasa Ayyangar was born on December 22, 1887 in Erode (India).

During Srinivasa Ramanujan childhood, in an arithmetic class, this budding genius posed a question to his class teacher, “If zero is divided by zero, will the result be one?”

0 is designated as a digit or number. If zero prefixes a number it has no value; if zero suffixes a number or if it prefixes a number with a decimal before it, it carries value. Hence we realize the importance of the position of 0 in a number.

1. zero has got the ability to destroy another number if it is multiplied by zero, e.g. 452 x 0 = 0.
2. It has no role in addition or subtraction, e.g. 12 plus zero is twelve, 12 minus zero is twelve.
3. In division what is its role? any number divided by zero is infinity.
1. 0/0 is zero according to some mathematicians.
2. 0/0 is one according to some.
3. 0/0 is equal to infinity according to Bhaskara, an Indian Mathematician.
4. 0/0 is regarded as an indeterminate form according to some.

Hindu mathematicians conceived of 0 as a number. Ancient Indian thought about zero is interpreted in this manthra :

Ramanujan was in a poor financial state; he could not get proper education. At the age of 15 he verified about 6000 theorems and developed some new theorems.

1. In the year 1903 he secured a scholarship after Matriculation. Since he was interested in mathematics and numbers, he neglected other subjects; the scholarship was cancelled. Parents were worried whether he would go mad.

2. In 1907 he appeared for FA. (now called Intermediate).

3. To set him right, parents arranged a bride, Janaki who was eight years old at the time of marriage.

4. In 1910 he met V. Ramaswamy Iyer (Founder of the Indian Mathematical Society) and Ramachandra Rao (President of the Indian Mathematical Society), and

showed his mathematics note book to impress them and thereby get a job.

5. In 1911 he got a temporary job in A.G.’s office, Madras.

6. In 1912 appointed as a clerk, Madras Port Trust on a salary of Rs.20 p.m.

7. In 1913 he got a research scholarship of Rs.75 per month from University of Madras for his proficiency in mathematics.

8. Ramanujan wrote a letter to Prof. G.H. Hardy of Cambridge University enclosing 120 theorems and other notes. Hardy and his colleagues were impressed and offered him facilities for study in Cambridge University.

Instance of unrest in Srinivasa Ramanujan mind :

Ramanujan Mathematician in an other letter to Hardy wrote that “lunatic asylum was his (Ramanujan’s) goal”. Hardy’s reply, “you must be prepared for a certain amount of disappointment.”

9. Despite trepidations of his family members over the violation of the norms of orthodoxy for a brahmin to cross the oceans, he set sail to England on March 17, 1914 with an agreement of scholarship of £250 a year from University of Madras and £60 a year from Trinity College, Cambridge.

10. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918 and Fellow of the Trinity College, Cambridge.

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Srinivasa Ramanujan Contributions

Srinivasa Ramanujan was a mathematician of the highest order who did work on the theory of numbers, theory of partitions and theory of continued fractions. To him, mathematics was a game of partition of number into sums of squares, cubes and higher powers,

e.g., 13+123= 1729 also 103+93 =1729 (loc.cit.) 1729 is called Ramanujan’s number.

Yet, Ramanujan was cautious and cunning. He did not give his proofs to Hardy, for fear that Hardy might “steal” his findings! Thus Hardy was hardly trusted.

Unfortunately Ramanujan fell ill in Cambridge. Being a brahmin and strict vegetarian, he had to cook his own food. Furthermore, First World War was raging in Europe at that time to cause inconvenience to life and health.

In a mood of disgust and despair, he nearly attempted to kill himself when he fell before a train in England.

Hardy’s Comment about Srinivasa Ramanujan :

“While many of his theorems were quite new… He discovered many theorems; persistent modesty for too big a man!

While Ramanujan continued his research work in England tuberculosis attacked him; he became pale and weak. Had there been no Hardy, there would perhaps be no Ramanujan – Such an intimacy between them. Once when Ramanujan was sick with TB, Hardy paid a visit to him.

Hardy said, “The number of the taxi-cab in which I came is 1729. The number seems to be a dull one and I hope it is not an unfavourable omen.”

The genius in Ramanujan sparkled immediately. “No; Hardy, It is a very interesting number. It is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways: 1729 = 123+13 or 103+93 (loc cit). Prof. Hardy was amazed.

Once Prof. Littlewood remarked, “Every positive integer was one of Ramanujan’s personal friends.”

He was sent back to India in 1919. He died of consumption in the year 1920 in Chetput, Madras.

The old saying. “Those whom Gods love die young” was true in Ramanujan’s case; he died at less than 33 years of age, hardly at one-third of the normal life-span. Such was the triumph and tragedy of a genius!

P.S. Chandrasekhar, Ramanujan’s physician wrote in his diary, his death was “a tragedy which is too deep for tears.”

Srinivasa Ramanujan wife Janaki outstripped him in age. She bore the grief of Ramanujan’s death till her age of 85, until her death in 1994.

India Postage 15 n.p. postal stamp was issued in his birth centenary year in 1987 in commemoration of this genius.

Postscript

Bertrand Russell was “excited” by the emergence of Ramanujan as a genius.

Hardy recorded his astonishing capability of mental calculation and thrill in the drill of his brain.

Nearly 60 years after his death, J.H. Whittaker in 1979 said, “The right place for the Ramanujan material was the Trinity College rather than India which had done nothing for him.”

Besides being a mathematician, Ramanujan was a reputed astrologer, fluent speaker giving lectures on topics like “God and infinity”.

“He was destined to leave for his heavenly abode in a hurry, prematurely in the crusade against TB. It looks as though some Divine hand picks up people packed up in an enormous quantum of intellect and creativity, as pawns for the TB butcher/slaughter.”

Tailpiece

“A gem…. What Mozart was to music and Einstein was to physics, Ramanujan was to math….”

– Clifford Stoll

Endpiece

If I am to sum up Ramanujan is one word, I would say, Indianality.” – Ramachandra Rao

Ingenious

• 11,11,11,111 x 11,11,11,111 = 12345678987654321

• The figure ‘forty’ contains the letters in its spelling in alphabetical order.
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