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Srinivasa Ramanujan Biography

Biography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Ramanujan’s early years

Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of the most famous mathematical wizards who made important contributions to the field of advanced mathematics. Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22 December, 1887, to a poor Brahmin family in Erode, a small village in Tamil Nadu, India.

He grew up in Kumbakonam town, near Chennai, where his father was employed as a clerk in a cloth merchant’s shop. He was an exceptionally good student and won a number of merit certificates and awards. He loved Mathematics more than any other subject.

Once, when he was just in his middle school classes, he mathematically calculated the approximate length of the equator. He also very clearly knew the values of the square root of two and value of pi!

Srinivasa Ramanujan – Education and work

  • At the age of 16, he got a scholarship for his first year at the Government College in his hometown. His deep interest in Mathematics led him to neglect other subjects because of which he was not able to clear his examinations and had to forgo his scholarship. After dropping out of college, he had to struggle a lot to earn his living.
  • However, it did not dampen Ramanujan’s spirits and he continued to work on problems and theorems. He bought a book authored by G. S. Carr which contained over 5000 problems. He worked and reworked all the problems and theorems and made new discoveries. He also found a job as an accounts clerk in the office of the Madras Port Trust.
  • Then, he got in touch with V. Ramaswamy Aiyer, the founder of the Indian Mathematical Society. With his help, Ramanujan got his paper on Bernoulli numbers published in the ‘Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society’ in 1911. Soon, he became a quite popular in Chennai for his prowess in Mathematics.
  • In 1913, he casually wrote to the well-known Cambridge mathematician, G. H. Hardy, and told him about his work. Hardy was mighty impressed with Ramanujan’s works and assisted him in getting a grant from Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • Ramanujan moved abroad and started to work in collaboration with Hardy, but his health started failing. Despite poor health, he remained engrossed in his research and study of newer vistas in mathematics. In 1916, he graduated from Cambridge with a Bachelor of Science by Research.
  • In 1920, he moved back to India and left for his heavenly abode.

What is Srinivasa Ramanujan famous for?

  • Despite having almost no formal training in Mathematics, Ramanujan’s knowledge of the subject-matter was astounding. Without the knowledge of the modern developments in the subject, he had made some important contributions to the field of mathematical analysis, number theory, game theory, infinite series and continued fractions.
  • He was a luminary who rose to great heights from a humble background and followed his heart against the odds in his way. His innovative ideas and vision still serve as a great resource for modern mathematicians.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

In the honour of Ramanujan, December 22 is now celebrated as the National Mathematics Day in India. His biography titled ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity‘ was published in 1991 and a movie based on him starring Dev Patel was also shown at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival.

Famous quotes by Srinivasa Ramanujan

  1. An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God.
  2. I have not trodden through a conventional university course, but I am striking out a new path for myself. I have made a special investigation of divergent series in general and the results I get are termed by the local mathematicians as “startling.”