Legendary mathematician remembered
About 500 students from various city colleges got richer in the knowledge on the life and work of legendary mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan after a talk by R. Balasubramanian, Director, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.
Organised as an outreach programme by the University of Hyderabad in the run-up to the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), to be held here in August 2010, the lecture touched upon Ramanujan’s work, which is still drawing research attention, and his short life of 33 years.
Prof. Balasubramanian recounted Ramanujan’s early struggle for recognition in an unfavourable setting, his contact and collaboration with G.H. Hardy of Cambridge University, and the abrupt end for the flowering genius.
As a child, Ramanujan was as exceptional in Mathematics as he was poor in other subjects. He could not pass the First Exam in Arts (FA), equivalent to 12th class.
Yet, his work convinced Prof. Hardy enough to recommend a fellowship from Madras University, and later, when he passed BA in London, a Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1918.
Soon after, in 1919, he fell ill and had to return home. Ramanujan’s work in Number Theory had many parts to it, the most important being Q Hyper Geometric Series.
His circle method is still being used to solve well-known problems in mathematics, such as Waring’s Problem, Goldbach Conjecture.
Lost and found
His last note books, which were lost for a time, have now been published as “Ramanujan’s Last Notebooks”, he said.
Held every four years, the ICM is coming to India for the first time, and will only be the third event to be held outside Europe and North America since it began in 1897.
It aims to discern the direction in which mathematics is headed and the problems it may face.
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