(Celebrating the mind behind Infinity)
“An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God” – Ramanujan.
Mathematics has always been regarded as an essential part of human civilization and evolution. From the Vedas to Indus Valley civilization to modern times, from Aryabhatta and Bhaskara I of the ancient era to K. Chandrashekhar and Neena Gupta of the modern times, India has always made a significant contribution to the world of mathematics. From this infinite pool, one name that stands out when Indian mathematicians are mentioned, it’s Srinivasa Ramanujan, the man who made substantial contribution to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and continued fractions including solutions to mathematical problems considered unsolvable during his time.
The Indian government declared 22 December to be “National Mathematics Day”. This was announced by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 26 February 2012 at Madras University, to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec 1887- 26 Apr 1920). Singh also declared the year 2012 as the ‘National Mathematics Year’. Since then, every year the whole nation comes together to celebrate, not only the birth Ramanujan, but also every wonder that has been made possible by mathematics.
About Ramanujan: Born in Erode, Madras during the British ruled India, Ramanujan never received any formal education in pure mathematics. Although he attended Government Arts college and Pachaiyappa college, he had no degree from any of them. Hailed as a self taught mathematician, Ramanujan attended Trinity College, Cambridge and also 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. During his short lifespan, he had compiled more than 3,900 results (identities and theorems) in the field of mathematics. Most of them were original and had highly unconventional results that included the Ramanujan Prime, the Ramanujan theta function, partition formulae and mock theta functions among others. Most of his theories and claims have been proven true by now. His works have opened new areas and inspired a vast amount of further research.
In 1919, due to ill health (believed to be hepatic amoebiasis), Ramanujan returned to India and eventually died in 1920 at the young age of 32. He was a deeply religious hindu and considered his affinity towards mathematics as a blessing from his native goddess.
One can always wonder, what the world of mathematics would have been today if Ramanujan has lived out his full life. The last of his works, named the lost notebook created a huge buzz among the mathematicians from all over the world when it was rediscovered in 1976. India will always be the place that S. Ramanujan called home and he will always remain as a irreplaceable jwell on the crown of mother India.