Biography of Srinavasa Ramanujan

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Indian Mathematician Srinavasa Ramanujan Biography

S. Ramanujan was one of greatest Indian mathematical geniuses. Srinavasa Ramanujan Iyengar added a new dimension to the whole world of mathematics with his tremendous contributions.

Srinavasa Ramanujan Iyengar or S. Ramanujan was one of the most famous Indian mathematicians of all time. The credit of making a lot of valuable contributions to various fields of mathematics inevitably goes to this great mathematician.

Born in a small town of Tamil Nadu, S. Ramanujan struggled with poverty during his childhood, as his father was a clerk in a cloth merchant`s shop in Kumbhakonam. However, in spite of poverty, S. Ramanujan showed his extraordinary talent of mathematics whenever he got chance and it was this talent that helped him and his family to get out of the poverty.

Early Life of S. Ramanujan

Srinavasa Ramanujan was born on 22nd of December, 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu. Ramanujan failed to complete his formal studies after Matriculation, due to his lack of attendance to the subjects other than mathematics. He failed twice in the F.A. class and once his formal education was over, he faced a lot of difficulties in earning his livelihood.

Srinavasa Ramanujan actively started searching for jobs, after his marriage with Janaki. However, he had to wait for five long years before getting a job, as he did not have any formal educational certificate with him. He possessed unusual mathematical skills.

Career of  S. Ramanujan

While pursuing for job, Ramanujan travelled extensively to Chennai and the neighbouring towns and during this course, he met several mathematicians who became his friends.

All of them were actually the college teachers who taught mathematics and they appreciated his higher mathematics. S. Ramanujan got the first relief from the burden of finding a job through one such friend, named R. Krishna Rao, who was the nephew of Dewan Bahadur R. Ramchandra Rao, the Collector of Nellore.
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Srinavasa Ramanujan sent Ramanujan to his uncle, R. Ramchandra Rao, who was also the President of the newly formed Indian Mathematical Society in Madras. S. Ramanujan greatly impressed him with his notebook that contained some of his extraordinary works on mathematics.

Ramchandra Rao soon granted S. Ramanujan a good scholarship of Rs 25 per month from his personal funds so that Ramanujan could pursue his passion for mathematics without the burden of a job. Apart from studying mathematics, Ramanujan also started contributing research papers in the newly started Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society, during that period.

Apart from granting a scholarship for S. Ramanujan, Ramchandra Rao also arranged a job for him and Ramanujan soon joined in a clerical post in the Madras Port Trust. Ramanujan`s post was designated as `Class 111-Grade-IV Clerk`.

Ramanujan had a great time during his days in the Madras Port Trust, and he also shared his mathematical interests with a senior colleague, the Chief Accountant of the Port Trust.

One of the most important incidences of Ramanujan`s life also occurred during those days, when he got the chance to go to England and pursue systematic studies in higher mathematics.

Srinavasa Ramanujan friends and well-wishers in Chennai gave a lot of efforts to send him to England and they sent some of Ramanujan`s best works to the eminent British mathematician, the Cayley Lecturer in Mathematics and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr. G. H. Hardy.

Apart from that, S. Ramanujan also got a fellowship in the University of Madras for pursuing research in mathematics, in spite of lacking formal education.

When G. H. Hardy received the works of S. Ramanujan, he was quite astonished with his brilliance and intelligence and he soon replied positively and told Ramanujan to go to England, as a student in Trinity College, Cambridge, England.

Though, Ramanujan was reluctant to go to England initially, due to the religious customs that were practiced in the Indian society at that time, he eventually agreed and started for England on 17th of March, 1914.

After reaching London, S. Ramanujan faced a lot of difficulties, due to the completely different lifestyle of England than India. However, he got some good Indian friends there and the eminent Indian statistician, P.C. Mahalnobis, who was then studying at Cambridge, was the most notable amongst them.

Ramanujan worked with G. H. Hardy and also independently in England and during the period, he compiled nearly 3900 results, mostly identities and equations.

Achievements of S. Ramanujan

Srinavasa Ramanujan spent nearly five years in Cambridge and collaborated with the famous mathematicians of the world. A part of his findings was also published in England. He was awarded a B.A. degree in March 1916 for his job on highly composite numbers that was published as a paper in the Journal of the London Mathematical Society.

Srinavasa Ramanujan was elected to the London Mathematical Society on 6th December 1917. Apart from that, S. Ramanujan was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918 for his investigation in Elliptic Functions and the Theory of Numbers. He was the second Indian to become a Fellow and also one of the youngest Fellows in the entire history of the Royal Society.
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Ramanujan also became the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge for his contribution in developing the `Number Theory`, on 13th of October, 1918.

However, S. Ramanujan soon began to develop various health problems in England and most of them were caused due to his depression for staying away from home and carelessness about himself. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency and was confined to a hospital.

Srinavasa Ramanujan symptoms were fever, night sweats, cough, breathing difficulties, weight loss and even the spitting of blood. After suffering from various diseases for some months, S. Ramanujan eventually came back to India on 27th of March, 1919. He received a grand welcome. However, unfortunately he died on 26th of April, 1920, at the age of 32 years.

The Government of India has issued a commemorative stamp to honour the 75th anniversary birth of Ramanujan in 1962. Tamil Nadu celebrates his birthday as the `State IT Day`. Apart from that, the Indian National Science academy and many other scientific institutions in India are also giving various awards in memory of this brilliant mathematician.

Apart from the government institutions, some of the other Indian mathematicians also paid honour to S. Ramanujan by establishing different institutions in his name. A large number of mathematicians joined hands and established the `Ramanujan Institute of Mathematics` in Chennai in 1949.

Apart from that, the Indian Mathematical Society also raised money and instituted the Ramanujan Prize for conducting research in mathematics for Indians with a view to sustain the spirit of Ramanujan. The institute was later incorporated into the Institute of Advanced Mathematical Sciences, after the Independence of India.

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