Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who lived during the British Rule in India.

Updated: July 19, 2020

Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who lived during the British Rule in India. Though he had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems then considered unsolvable. He was born on 22nd December 1887 and died on 26th April 1920.


Childhood of Srinivasa Ramanujan:

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22nd December 1887 into a Tamil Brahmin Iyengar family in Erode, Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu), at the residence of his maternal grandparents. His father, Kuppuswamy Srinivasa Iyengar, originally from Thanjavur district, worked as a clerk in a sari shop. His mother, Komalatammal, was a housewife and sang at a local temple. They lived in a small traditional home on Sarangapani Sannidhi Street in the town of Kumbakonam.


Education of Srinivasa Ramanujan:

On 1 October 1892 Srinivasa Ramanujan was enrolled at the local school. After his maternal grandfather lost his job as a court official in Kanchipuram, Ramanujan and his mother moved back to Kumbakonam and he was enrolled in Kangayan Primary School. When his paternal grandfather died, he was sent back to his maternal grandparents, then living in Madras. He did not like school in Madras, and tried to avoid attending. Just before turning 10, in November 1897, he passed his primary examinations in English, Tamil, geography and arithmetic with the best scores in the district. That year Ramanujan entered Town Higher Secondary School, where he encountered formal mathematics for the first time. When he graduated from Town Higher Secondary School in 1904, Srinivasa 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. He received a scholarship to study at Government Arts College, Kumbakonam. He later enrolled at Pachaiyappa's College in Madras. Without a FA degree, he left college and continued to pursue independent research in mathematics.


Family of Srinivasa Ramanujan:

On 14th July 1909, Srinivasa Ramanujan married Janaki (Janakiammal), a girl his mother had selected for him a year earlier and who was ten years old when they married. Janaki continued to stay at her maternal home for three years after marriage, till she attained puberty. In 1912 she and Ramanujan's mother joined Ramanujan in Madras.


Some facts about Srinivasa Ramanujan:

  • Srinivasa Ramanujan initially developed his own mathematical research in isolation: "He tried to interest the leading professional mathematicians in his work, but failed for the most part.
  • In 1913 he began a postal partnership with the English mathematician G. H. Hardy at the University of Cambridge, England.
  • Recognizing Ramanujan's work as extraordinary, Hardy arranged for him to travel to Cambridge.
  • In his notes, Ramanujan had produced groundbreaking new theorems.
  • During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations).
  • Many were completely novel; his original and highly unconventional results, such as the Ramanujan prime, the Ramanujan theta function, partition formulae and mock theta functions, have opened entire new areas of work and inspired a vast amount of further research.
  • Nearly all his claims have now been proven correct.
  • The Ramanujan Journal, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, was established to publish work in all areas of mathematics influenced by Ramanujan, and his notebooks containing summaries of his published and unpublished results have been analyzed and studied for decades since his death as a source of new mathematical ideas.
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan became one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society and only the second Indian member, and the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • In 1919, due to ill health, believed to have been hepatic amoebiasis (a complication from episodes of dysentery many years previously) Ramanujan returned to India, where he died in 1920 at the age of 32.
  • The year after his death, Nature listed Ramanujan among other distinguished scientists and mathematicians on a "Calendar of Scientific Pioneers" who had achieved eminence.
  • Ramanujan's home state of Tamil Nadu celebrates 22nd December (Ramanujan's birthday) as 'State IT Day'.
  • Stamps picturing Ramanujan were issued by the government of India in 1962, 2011, 2012 and 2016.
  • Since Ramanujan's centennial year, his birthday, 22nd December, has been annually celebrated as Ramanujan Day by the Government Arts College, Kumbakonam, where he studied, and at the IIT Madras in Chennai.
  • In 2011, on the 125th anniversary of his birth, the Indian government declared that 22 December will be celebrated every year as National Mathematics Day.


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