Remembering the Mathematical Genius….Srinivasa Ramanujan!

He was a supercomputer. He was a genius. He was a man who was far ahead of his times. He was incompatible with the system because his mental capacity was much more than others because of which his peers could not understand him. In fact, even so called brilliant mathematicians could not understand him when he was alive. However, he was proved right 82 years after his death. Probably many more things which he had told are yet to be proved and several mathematicians are still working on them. Financially he was poor, but when he left this world, the world became poor. He was a huge treasure for the country.

Srinivasa Ramanujan is the man who knew infinity and reached infinity too that the contemporary mathematicians too couldn’t reach his thought process. While recalling his meeting Ramanujan and going through his notebook, V Ramaswamy Aiyer, the founder of Indian Mathematical Society, has said “I was struck by the extraordinary mathematical results contained in it [the notebooks].”

Within the age of 32, he had compiled 3900 results mostly identities and equations. He gave Ramanujan Prime, Ramanujan theta function which were totally unconventional at that time. The biggest problem in understanding his works was that the steps that he has followed to solve the problems are not recorded in the sheets of paper. It is said that he used to solve the problems on slate and get the result which he used to record in the paper.

Even though he didn’t have necessary educational qualifications from recognised colleges or universities, his work itself provided him the necessary qualification to reach Cambridge. But it was not a cakewalk for Ramanujan to reach the prestigious university. His theorems were so complicated that many eminent professors felt that to be a fraud. Because, they were coming from an unknown mathematician. He was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918 and he was one of the youngest fellows in the history of Royal Society.

His health didn’t support him and he contracted with tuberculosis and severe vitamin deficiency soon after getting the fellowship. So he had to return to India but he couldn’t survive due to severity of illness.

While he was on his death bed, Ramanujan wrote a letter to his mentor, English mathematician G H Hardy, outlining several new mathematical functions never before heard of. These letters were also accompanied by a hunch about how they worked. Decades later it has been found out that the formula Ramanujan gave could explain the behaviour of black holes.

Ramanujan breathed his last in 1920 at the age of 32. But his contributions are instigating new inventions, innovations and explanations in different fields especially with the evolution of disciplines like applied mathematics. He is one of the greatest geniuses of  the world forever.

Akshara Damle

You can reach the author on Twitter @aksharadamle