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The Man Who Knew Infinity: Everything You Need To Know About Srinivasa Ramanujan


National Math Day or Math Day is celebrated every year on December 22, honoring the legendary mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar on his birthday. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken office on this date in 2012, after which it is observed as Math Day every year.

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on December 22, 1887 in Erode of Tamil Nadu. He had developed a talent for mathematics from a very young age, mastered trigonometry at the age of 12, and was eligible for a scholarship at Government Arts College in Kumbakonam. He had enrolled at Pachaiyappa College in Madras at the age of 14.

Ramanujan worked at the Madras Port Trust in 1912, where some of his co-workers recognized his mathematical prowess, one of whom referred him to Professor GH Hardy of Trinity College, Cambridge University. He met Hardy in 1913, a year after which he went to Trinity College, where he perfected his craft under the tutelage of English.

He received his degree from Cambridge in 1916 and published several brilliant articles on his subject with Hardy’s help, and the two even collaborated on various joint projects and publications. Ramanujan was elected to the London Mathematical Society in 1917 and was elected to the Royal Society for his excellent work on elliptic functions and number theory. He was also the first Indian to be elected to Trinity College.

Despite having no formal training in pure mathematics, Ramanujan made invaluable contributions to various mathematical concepts such as infinite series, continued fractions, number theory, and mathematical analysis. He also made notable contributions such as the hypergeometric series, the Riemann series, elliptic integrals, divergent series theory, and the functional equations of the zeta function.

Ramanujan died at the young age of 32 due to deteriorating health on April 26, 1920. Robert Kanigel wrote a book about him called ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ in 2015. His life was also portrayed in a film with the Same name where he was played by British-Indian actor Dev Patel. The film shed light on Ramanujan’s childhood in India, his time in Great Britain during World War I, and his journey to become one of India’s most renowned mathematicians.

Hindustan Times