(Last Updated on : 24/03/2012)
Srinavasa Iyengar Ramanujan, popularly known as S. Ramanujan, was amongst the most renowned and respected mathematicians in India. He is credited with making several numerous significant contributions to various fields of mathematics. This great mathematician was a self-taught learner and had no formal education in pure mathematics. He was born in a small town of Tamil Nadu
. He struggled with poverty during his childhood days. However he was talented in mathematics. He had made astonishing contributions to number theory, continued fractions, mathematical analysis and infinite series. Ramanujan is generally considered as one of the soaring geniuses in mathematics.
Early Life of S. Ramanujan
Srinavasa Iyengar Ramanujan was born on 22nd of December, 1887 in Erode
, Tamil Nadu. Ramanujan failed to complete his formal studies after Matriculation, due to his lack of attendance to the subjects other than mathematics. He failed twice in the Fine Arts degree exam. Once his formal education was over, he had to face a lot of difficulties in earning his livelihood. He actively started searching for jobs, after his marriage with Janaki. However, he had to wait for 5 long years before getting a job, as he did not have any formal educational certificate with him.
Career of S. Ramanujan
While pursuing for job, Srinavasa Iyengar Ramanujan travelled extensively to Chennai
and the neighbouring towns and during this course; he met several mathematicians who became his friends. All of them were actually the college teachers who taught mathematics and they all appreciated his mathematical skills. R. Ramchandra Rao, the Collector of Nellore
soon granted S. Ramanujan a good scholarship of Rs 25 per month from his personal funds so that Ramanujan could pursue his passion for mathematics without even having a job. Apart from studying mathematics, Ramanujan also started contributing research papers in the newly started Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society.
Ramchandra Rao also arranged a job for him and Ramanujan soon joined in a clerical post in the Madras Port Trust. He was a Class III-Grade-IV Clerk.
One of the most important incidences of Ramanujan's life also occurred during those days, when he got the chance to go to England and pursue systematic studies in higher mathematics. His friends and well-wishers in Chennai gave a lot of efforts to send him to England and they sent some of Ramanujan's best works to the eminent British mathematician, the Cayley Lecturer in Mathematics and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr. G. H. Hardy. Apart from that, Srinavasa Iyengar Ramanujan also got a fellowship in the University of Madras
for pursuing research in mathematics, in spite of lacking formal education.
G. H. Hardy was impressed by his works. He told Ramanujan to go to England, as a student in Trinity College, Cambridge, England. Though initially he was reluctant to go he eventually agreed and started for England on 17th of March, 1914. After reaching London, S. Ramanujan faced a lot of difficulties, due to the completely different lifestyle in England However, he got some good Indian friends there and the eminent Indian statistician, P.C. Mahalnobis, who was then studying at Cambridge, was the most notable amongst them.
Achievements of S. Ramanujan
Srinavasa Iyengar Ramanujan spent nearly 5 years in Cambridge and collaborated with the famous mathematicians of the world. A part of his findings was also published in England. He was awarded a B.A. degree in March 1916 for his job on highly composite numbers that was published as a paper in the Journal of the London Mathematical Society. He was elected to the London Mathematical Society on 6th December 1917. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918 for his investigation in Elliptic Functions and the Theory of Numbers. He was the second Indian to become a Fellow and also one of the youngest Fellows in the entire history of the Royal Society. Ramanujan also became the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge for his contribution in developing the Number Theory, on 13th of October, 1918.
Ramanujan was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency and was confined to a hospital. After suffering from various diseases for some months, Srinavasa Iyengar Ramanujan eventually came back to India on 27th of March, 1919. He received a grand welcome. Unfortunately, he died on 26th of April, 1920, at the age of 32 years.
The Government of India
has issued a commemorative stamp to pay tribute and honour the 75th anniversary birth of Ramanujan in 1962. Tamil Nadu
celebrates his birthday as the State IT Day. The Ramanujan Journal was launched as an international publication, which included his work in areas of mathematics.