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Indian Mathematician Ramanujan

Indian Mathematician Ramanujan

On 16 January 1913, Srinivasa Ramanujan wrote to G. H. Hardy.

Ramanujan was a self taught mathematician from a small village in India. He had almost no formal training in mathematics. Hardy was professor of mathematics at Cambridge University and one of the leading mathematicians in the world.

The letter sent by Ramanujan contained a sampling of theorems he had discovered. Hardy later said, "the theorems defeated me completely; I had never seen anything in the least like them before" and added that "they must be true, because, if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them."

What happened next would change both their lives. Hardy would later write about Ramanujan in his book "A Mathematician's Apology" and say that working with Ramanujan was the most significant event of his life.

Ramanujan produced some amazing infinite series, including several for π that converge extraordinarily fast and form the basis of today's computer algorithms used to calculate π.

His other results involved continued fractions. Ramanujan had a special love of continued fractions and used them to extraordinary effect.

Hardy worked hard to try and discover how Ramanujan produced his remarkable results. He never found out.

Ramanujan died on 26 April 1920. He was 32 years old. Hardy died many years later, on 1 December 1947 at the age of 70.

The Ramanujan story is now part of mathematics legend and his notebooks are still being studied today.

The movie "The Man Who Knew Infinity" tells the story of Ramanujan with Dev Patel in the lead role.

Content written and posted by Ken Abbott