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The Ramanujan – Story of his knowledge till infinity to lost notebook


-Dr. Pratik Trivedi

The life of Ramanujan is not less-spicier than any Indian latest web series. In fact, The Man Who Knew Infinity leads me to write about its subject, Srinivasa Ramanujan. I’ve describes the whole-time line of the Ramanujan in a single time frame in this article, because I want the younger generation to know some interesting facts about the life of the real heroes of our country who made us proud, and has been making us proud since many decades. However, it is pity on our side that the generation next which is now called “Gen-Z” can name hundreds of actors, actresses, singers, producers, directors, sports personalities, even businessmen and these days even politicians but can’t name the scientists and mathematicians that the country has produced. So let me make a small effort to bring out some interesting facts out of this mathematician’s life; which could eventually lead youth to get dived into study of his life style and more importantly mathematical contributions or I must say revolutionary contributions that he made.

Contribution in Mathematics –

Ramanujan proposed many formulas and theorems during his lifetime. These results, which include solutions of problems that were previously considered to be unsolvable, would be investigated in more detail by other mathematicians, as Ramanujan relied more on his intuition rather than writing out mathematical proofs.

Hardy-Ramanujan number and interesting facts –

The man who knew Infinity, Srinivasa Ramanujan knew more than infinity. He contributed theorems and independently compiled 3900 results. However, to inquisitive minds and those dabbling in mathematical science would also know him for the Hardy-Ramanujan number.

The Hardy-Ramanujan number is named such after an anecdote of the British mathematician G.H. Hardy who had gone to visit S. Ramanujan in hospital. The anecdote is a part of Ramanujan’s biography ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ by Robert Knaigel.

Mr. Hardy quipped that he came in a taxi with the number ‘1729’ which seemed a fairly ordinary number. Ramanujan said that it was not. 1729, the Hardy-Ramanujan Number, is the smallest number which can be expressed as the sum of two different cubes in two different ways.

1729 is the sum of the cubes of 10 and 9 – cube of 10 is 1000 and cube of 9 is 729; adding the two numbers results in 1729.

1729 is also the sum of the cubes of 12 and 1- cube of 12 is 1728 and cube of 1 is 1; adding the two results in 1729.

While, the Ramanujan number is not his greatest combination, it is certainly a fascinating discovery that is easiest to remember among all of his discoveries.

Ramanujan was fascinated with numbers and made striking contributions to a branch of mathematics partitio-numerorum, the study of partitions of numbers.

Srinivasa Ramanujan’s birthday, December 22, was declared as the National mathematics Day in 2012. Coupled with this and a movie based on his life, he has grabbed the attention of the non-mathematical population as well.

Gripping and sad end of episode –

As I said, every Indian web series does have a gripping, twisted and mind wobbling end so does our great mathematician had. The 32-year-old genius, a truly gifted academician died cheap, suffering from tuberculosis. World still don’t know what happened to the Indian boy genius of whom, we have almost forgotten.

And, after reading this article it keeps you interested to know more about him, just have a search on “A lost notebook” of Ramanujan. It is believed that After Ramanujan died on April 26, 1920, at the age of 32, his wife gave his notebooks to the University of Madras. On August 30, 1923, the registrar Francis Drewsbury sent much of this material to G. H. Hardy, Ramanujan’s mentor at Trinity College, where he probably received the manuscripts of the lost notebook.

… Almost surely, this manuscript, or at least most of it, was written during the last year of Ramanujan’s life, after his return to India from England. … The manuscript contains no introduction or covering letter. In fact, there are hardly any words in the manuscript. There are a few marks evidently made by a cataloguer, and there are a few remarks in the handwriting of G. H. Hardy. Undoubtedly, the most famous objects examined in the lost notebook are the mock theta functions.

(Writer is Academician and Political Analyst)

Courtesy : VSK BHARATH