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. He was a poor and sickly Hindu Brahmin from the Tamil Nadu state of south India, who was not lucky to have any fancy degrees. But he was a math wizard and numbers were his toys. His genius was spotted by Hardy, another of the species from England. And the association brought the genius to the eyes of the world through Cambridge.
Math wizard Ramanujan’s pioneering work is the embryo from which the present day digital world has spawned itself!
In the 1997 film, “Good Will Hunting” about another math genius portrayed by Matt Damon (as Will Hunting) who was an autodidact and a recluse , a mention about Ramanujan had been made by Prof. Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) in a very appropriately fitting context. Here is the video clipping showing that episode:-
(Please keep maximum volume since the audio is not loud enough, sorry!)
Here is an anecdote about the Famous “Ramanujam-Hardy Number” – 1729 in the words of Hardy himself:
I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen.
“No,” he replied, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two [positive] cubes in two different ways.”
(1729 = 13 +123 = 93 + 103)
A book on the genius has been published with the title, The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan about which one person has written the following review:
This biography traces the life of one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century, Ramanujan. This incredibly brilliant Indian mathematician, working alone in relative obscurity and lacking the usual academic credentials, could easily have passed unnoticed. However, with the help of a handful of friends and the ultimate support of renowned English mathematician G.H. Hardy, his work was brought to the attention of the world. When he died in 1920 at 32 he had become a folk-hero in his own country. He left a rich lode of original mathematics, which is still being mined today. This extremely well-researched and well-written biography is a “must” addition to any library collection.
~ Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY
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