Renowned Mathematician

Srinivasa Ramanujan is declared as one of the most famous mathematic geniuses in India. The Central government celebrates Ramanujan’s birthday as the National Mathematics Day every year on 22nd December.

And2012 has been declared as the National Mathematical year.

Srinivasa Ramanujan has made contributions to the analytical theory of numbers and has also worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions and infinite series.

Ramanujan was born on December 22, 1887 in Erode, Madras. As a student, he faced numerous difficulties in Primary school. In High school he developed an interest in learning and proved to be an all round scholar. In 1900, he began to work on his own on mathematics, summing geometric and arithmetic series.

During High school he came across a book by G.S. Carr calledSynopsis of Elementary Results in Pure Mathematics. This book helped him learn mathematics without any help. This book was published in 1856, which was out dated by the time Ramanujan laid his hands on it. This is when he began upgrading theorems and in the process, created new theorems as well.

Slowly and steadily he showed a deep interest in the subject. He began mathematical research. He investigated the series ∑ (1/n) and calculated Euler's constant to 15 decimal places. He began to study the Bernoulli numbers, although this was entirely his own independent discovery.

In 1904, Ramanujan was awarded the K. Ranganatha Rao prize for mathematics by the school's headmaster, Krishnaswami Iyer. Iyer introduced Ramanujan as an outstanding student who deserved scores higher than the maximum marks. He received a scholarship to study at Government Arts College, Kumbakonam. The following year, however, his scholarship was not renewed so he devoted his time to mathematics. Without the money he soon started facing difficulties and ran away from home to Vishakapatnam.

He continued his mathematical work, this time on hypergeometric series and investigated relations between integrals and series. He was to discover later that he had been studying elliptic functions.

Ramanujan continued studying fractions and divergent series in 1908. At this stage he became seriously ill again and underwent an operation in 1909. Soon after this, he was married.

This did not change anything. He continued to develop his mathematical ideas and began to pose problems and solve problems in theJournal of the Indian Mathematical Society. After publishing a research paper on Bernoulli numbers in 1911 he gained recognition for his work. Despite his weak educational background, he became well known in Madras as a mathematical genius.

Ramachandra Rao who was a Collector at Nellore helped Ramanujan get a job of a clerk at The Presidency College in Madras. In 1913, Narayana Iyer, Ramachandra Rao and E. W. Middlemast tried to present Ramanujan's work to British mathematicians. M.J.M. Hill of University College London, commented that Ramanujan had the ability and talent but due to a weak educational background the foundation could not accept him as a mathematician. Soon after this, Ramanujan wrote to G.H. Hardy.

It was a series of formulae which was hard to believe as it came from an unknown mathematician. The theorems were breathtaking and Hardy couldn’t believe it. He wrote to Ramanujan inviting him to England where Ramanujan spent nearly five years in Cambridge collaborating with Hardy and Littlewood.

In 1918, he became the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Staying away from home, he fell sick and was diagonised with Tubercolosis and confined to a sanatorium. Ramanujan returned to Madras, and died in 1919.

Ramanujan’s work has played a fundamental role in the mathematics of the 20th century. His theorems are used far and wide for solving various problems. He is considered to be India’s greatest mathematician after Aryabhata and Bhaskaracharya.

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