Celebrate Ramanujan, the man who knew Infinity
National Mathematics Day is celebrated every year on December 22 to recognise the achievements of the Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who was born on this date in 1887. The observing the day started in 2012, when the then PM Manmohan Singh declared it as National Mathematics Day, on celebrating 125th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan. One of the most influential mathematicians of his time, Srinivasa Ramanujan was a self-taught man who made extraordinary contributions to the world of mathematics. An initiative of UNSECO led to the observance of International Day of Mathematics on March 14.
The life of Srinivasa Ramanujan has many lessons. Born in a small town Erode, in south India. It is reported that he failed in the exam at Government College in Kumbakonam, presumably as he ignored non-mathematical subjects. Started his career as a clerk in the Madras Port Trust where his colleagues noticed his brilliance in mathematics. It was a struggle to get his extraordinary ability in mathematics be recognised. People like Ramaswamy Aiyer, (founder of the Indian Mathematical Society), Prof Saldhana (a notable Bombay mathematician), C. V. Rajagopalachari, all played an important role in nurturing and ensuring that he continues his pursuit of exploring mathematics. Finally, he landed at Trinity College, Cambridge and worked with Prof Hardy. Srinivasa Ramanujan made tremendous progress, received bachelor’s degree in 1916, elected to the London Mathematical Society in 1917, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his research on Elliptic Functions and theory of numbers, in 1918. In the same year, in October, he became the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College. Srinivasa Ramanujan, given the world around 3500 mathematical formulae that researchers are still struggling to prove them. It is significant to note that Srinivasa Ramanujan attributed his knowledge to divine gift. Wikipedia has an excellent account of life and journey of Ramanujan. Many detailed reports on his works are available. Not be left behind, Hollywood came out a film on the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan.
India had a rich tradition of mathematical brilliance. Contributions of Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara and Varahamira, are well documented. In more recent times, the contributions of Satyendra Nath Bose, CR Rao, PC Mahalanobis with Manjul Bhargava the first person of Indian origin to win a Fields Medal. Ramanujan was undoubtedly among the world’s greatest mathematicians in the 20th century.
Philosophically life oscillates between Shunya to Anantha (zero to infinity). Aryabhata was credited for the world knowing the number ‘0’, people like Srinivasa Ramanujan contributed to exploring the Anantha.
Celebrating brilliance is a way of motivating to pursue the path to achieve excellence. Sound mathematical knowledge is essential to progress in all domains of learning. It is a day to recall the contributions of this great soul, Srinivasa Ramanujan.