Scientists » Mathematicians » SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN
|Full name||: Srinivasa Ramanujan|
|Alias||: Srinivasa Ramanujan|
|Animals||: The Pig|
|Father||: K. Srinivasa Iyengar|
|Mother||: Komalat Ammal|
|Wife||: Janaki Ammal|
|Education||: Town Higher Secondary School 1906 - Government Arts College Kumbakonam Pachaiyappa's College 1920 - Trinity College Cambridge 1919 - University of Cambridge 1916 - University of Cambridge University of Madras|
Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who made significant contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, and continued fractions. What made his achievements really extraordinary was the fact that he received almost no formal training in pure mathematics and started working on his own mathematical research in isolation. Born into a humble family in southern India, he began displaying signs of his brilliance at a young age. He excelled in mathematics as a school student, and mastered a book on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney by the time he was 13. While in his mid-teens, he was introduced to the book ‘A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics’ which played an instrumental role in awakening his mathematical genius. By the time he was in his late-teens, he had already investigated the Bernoulli numbers and had calculated the Euler–Mascheroni constant up to 15 decimal places. He was, however, so consumed by mathematics that he was unable to focus on any other subject in college and thus could not complete his degree. After years of struggling, he was able to publish his first paper in the ‘Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society’ which helped him gain recognition. He moved to England and began working with the renowned mathematician G. H. Hardy. Their partnership, though productive, was short-lived as Ramanujan died of an illness at the age of just 32.
Considered to be a mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, was regarded at par with the likes of Leonhard Euler and Carl Jacobi. Along with Hardy, he studied the partition function P(n) extensively and gave a non-convergent asymptotic series that permits exact computation of the number of partitions of an integer. Their work led to the development of a new method for finding asymptotic formulae, called the circle method.
Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22 December 1887 in Erode, Madras Presidency, to K. Srinivasa Iyengar and his wife Komalatammal. His family was a humble one and his father worked as a clerk in a sari shop. His mother gave birth to several children after Ramanujan, but none of them survived infancy.
Ramanujan contracted smallpox in 1889 but recovered from the potentially fatal disease. While a young child, he spent considerable time in his maternal grandparents’ home.
He started his schooling in 1892. Initially he did not like school though he soon started excelling in his studies, especially mathematics.
After passing out of Kangayan Primary School, he enrolled at Town Higher Secondary School in 1897. He soon discovered a book on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney which he mastered by the time he was 13. He proved to be brilliant student and won several merit certificates and academic awards.
In 1903, he got his hands on a book called ‘A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics’ by G.S. Carr which was a collection of 5000 theorems. He was thoroughly fascinated by the book and spent months studying it in detail. This book is credited to have awakened the mathematical genius in him.
By the time he was 17, he had independently developed and investigated the Bernoulli numbers and had calculated the Euler–Mascheroni constant up to 15 decimal places. He was now no longer interested in any other subject, and totally immersed himself in the study of mathematics only.
He graduated from Town Higher Secondary School in 1904 and was awarded the K. Ranganatha Rao prize for mathematics by the school's headmaster, Krishnaswami Iyer.
He went to the Government Arts College, Kumbakonam, on scholarship. However, he was so preoccupied with mathematics that he could not focus on any other subject, and failed in most of them. Due to this, his scholarship was revoked.
He later enrolled at Pachaiyappa's College in Madras where again he excelled in mathematics, but performed poorly in other subjects. He failed to clear his Fellow of Arts exam in December 1906 and again a year later. Then he left college without a degree and continued to pursue independent research in mathematics.
He was married to a ten-year-old girl named Janakiammal in July 1909 when he was in his early 20s. The marriage was arranged by his mother. The couple did not have any children, and it is possible that the marriage was never consummated.
Ramanujan suffered from various health problems throughout his life. His health declined considerably while he was living in England as the climatic conditions did not suit him. Also, he was a vegetarian who found it extremely difficult to obtain nutritious vegetarian food in England.
He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency during the late 1910s and returned home to Madras in 1919. He never fully recovered and breathed his last on 26 April 1920, aged just 32.
His birthday, 22 December, is celebrated as 'State IT Day' in his home state of Tamil Nadu. On the 125th anniversary of his birth, India declared his birthday as 'National Mathematics Day.'
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918, as one of the youngest Fellows in the history of the Royal Society. He was elected "for his investigation in Elliptic functions and the Theory of Numbers."
The same year, he was also elected a Fellow of Trinity College—the first Indian to be so honored.