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Srinivasa Ramanujan

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Indian mathematician who was self-taught and had an uncanny mathematical manipulative ability. Ramanujan was unable to pass his school examinations in India, and could only obtain a clerk’s position in the city of Madras. However, he continued to pursue his own mathematics, and sent letters to three mathematicians in England (which arrived in January of 1913) containing some of his results. While two of the three returned the letters unopened, G. H. Hardy recognized Ramanujan’s intrinsic mathematical ability and arranged for him to come to Cambridge. Because of his lack of formal training, Ramanujan sometimes did not differentiate between formal proof and apparent truth based on intuitive or numerical evidence. Although his intuition and computational ability allowed him to determine and state highly original and unconventional results which continued to defy formal proof until recently (Berndt 1985-1997), Ramanujan did occasionally state incorrect results.

Ramanujan had an intimate familiarity with numbers, and excelled especially in number theory  and modular function  theory. His familiarity with numbers were demonstrated by the following incident. During an illness in England, Hardy visited Ramanujan in the hospital. When Hardy remarked that he had taken taxi number 1729, a singularly unexceptional number, Ramanujan immediately responded that this number was actually quite remarkable: it is the smallest integer that can be represented in two ways by the sum of two cubes: 1729=13+123=93+103.

Unfortunately, Ramanujan’s health deteriorated rapidly in England, due perhaps to the unfamiliar climate, food, and to the isolation which Ramanujan felt as the sole Indian in a culture which was largely foreign to him. Ramanujan was sent home to recuperate in 1919, but tragically died the next year at the very young age of 32.

On December 22nd every year in india it is celebrated as National Mathematics Day

Ramanujan published some of his results in journals, and many are beautiful indeed. However, his working notebooks contained much additional unorganized material which remained uninvestigated until the sustained efforts of Berndt and his coworkers who systematically examined and proved Ramanujan’s sometimes vague or ambiguous statements.

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