Ramanjuan – A Mathematical genius

This book, I chanced upon it in TCS library. There were two reasons for reading it.
1. It was by Dilip M.Salwi, whose quiz books, I read as a school-kid. Nostalgia calling.
2. It was only around 60-65 pages and I wanted to begin and complete some book on the same day.
well, thats how, I began reading a biography after some 3,4 years!

The book traces Ramanujan’s story since his birth. Most of the story is known having heard about him from one source or the other since childhood. But, yet, there are interesting anecdotes about his life. Like Gossips, tidbits about someone else, if they are celebs – live or late never cease to generate some curiosity in me :))

There were quite many illustrations…even of those professors – Hardy especially…with whom S.R. worked. There is this fact I came to know from this book – this sad looking face and weak body of S.R seen in most of the pics available is taken in his last days when he was in ill-health and misery it seems. By nature, he is a jovial man, always full of activity and plump too :). would have loved to see him in that get-up. Guess, he would have lived longer too had he continued like that … 😦

Ramanujan – despite having no formal education reached considerable heights in Mathematics, as people say. Or is it because he had no formal education that he could excel? I recently read this story about our Michael Faraday. His lack of formal edu became a great advantage for him it seems…which is why he was able to think different from the conventional thought process and find out that Electricity and Magnetism are inter-related rather than seperate entities as they were believed to be till then.

Ramanujan’s notebooks are of considerable repute in the world of mathematics. His is primarily a hypothesis based math and he never cared about proofs. That was one possible reason for the lack of understandability in some of his theorems. There were some mistakes too….to err is human. But then, given the kind of atmosphere he grew up and the encouragement for his kind of interests in India, it was a great thing. Luckily enough, he found somebody who recognised – this is no ordinary man. Otherwise, perhaps, it would have been difficult for him.

Hey…this book taught me a few technical things too. Ramanujan belongs to Formalist School of Mathematics itseems. And…where are these theorems of his used? This was the doubt I had since long. Author gave a few applications…here are some of them:
Solve some problems in particle physics, statistical mechanics, Computer Science, Space Science, Cryptology,Polymer chemistry and Medical Science.
Designing better blast furnaces for smelting metals
Splicing telephone cables for communication
Possible Cancer treatment.
One interesting factor about his personal life is his immense faith in God….so much that he attributed his each and every discovery of theorem to the grace of God. Belief in God is not a bad thing. But, what I understood is his orthodoxy and adamance to act according to the circumstances actually made his health deteriorate and also came in way of his research too.

His ideas about Mathematics and Philosphy are interesting. The book does not talk about it in detail though, it just quotes. His fascination for zero and infinity is well known. It seems he believed that all finite numbers are nothing but products of ZERO and INFINITY !!! His talks on God and infinity are also interesting.
“ an equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses the thought of God” is his view.
Interesting….Another Tao of Physics…. Tao of Mathematics rather 🙂 Fritjof Capra …. Where are you? Heres your Pal…. Late Mr Srinivasa Ramanujan !!! The thing that I hated most about this book, despite it being a good read is its cost. 195 Rs (make it 200) for a book of just 60 pages !!!! even despite those illustrations! Luckily, I read even this in the library 🙂 Oh god! Please make me a publisher of books for my next incarnation 🙂

PS: Ramanujan’s house in Kumbakonam is taken over by the Government it seems …. My frend who stays there told me. Don’t know what is going on inside. A monument for him??

Published in: on July 16, 2006 at 3:53 am  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I read your blog..I mean the other posts too..
    and I sincerely feel something which I wanted to express.. I see very less gult girls who talk the way they ought too..meaning I feel a vry good percentage of gults are caught in the stereotypical world of chiranjeevi, balayya, kamma, kapu, reddy etc etc. Its a relief when I see things like Navatarangam and blogs like yours in telugu.

    English lo raasinanduku kshaminchandi..samayalemi 🙂
    I hope I get to date some gult girl like you..(honestly!)

    Oka place unte bagunnu Andhra lo ekkadina..oka type manushulu kalusukune types lo..nenu aithe Delhi lo untanu..ikkada telugu ammayilu telugu lo maatladadame arudu 😛

  2. I thought this comment merited a reply 🙂

  3. Hmm…. aa place edo naakoo telIdu mari.

  4. hmmm..okay on a different note..what do you think is the reason for gults to think the way they do..
    1. Parents, relatives and other people infuencing their upbringing – who may put in them the factors such as caste, region..etc..
    2. Lesser awareness or comparitively lesser literary activity in telugu – I mean there was a period with Sri Sri and Chalam..but that didnt influence the generation as much as in lets say, Bengal..there are people who swear by certain principles and ideologies..

    I mean I am not trying to stereotype, but are we lacking the right examples?

    I grew up in Vizag and never heard words like caste or Region(andhra, telangana) etc ever..It was only after I went to college..that to in a different state I got to hear all this..

    Hope I didnt bore you with all this..but this is something that troubles me a lot..How can a state with so many brilliant minds be poor/moderate when it comes to other intellectual spheres(apart from engineering, software etc)?

    Your thoughts! 🙂

  5. Well, I’d say both. and more…. too much of a run behind professional courses.

  6. hmmm..

  7. I have yet to finish this biography. I love reading about Ramanujan, as well as, other mathematicians. I failed algebra in college 2 times, and my teachers never believed that read books on mathematicians. Paul Erdos is another mathematician that is great to read about. He paid Ramanujan’s widow; because he was inspired by Ramanujan. That’s if my memory serves me well. Amita on Numb3rs is also named for Ramanujan.

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