Srinivasa Ramanujan

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Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of India's greatest mathematical geniuses. He made contributions to the analytical theory of numbers and worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series. Ramanujan was born in his grandmother's house in Erode on December 22, 1887. When Ramanujan was a year old his mother took him to the town of Kumbakonam, near Madras. His father worked in Kumbakonam as a clerk in a cloth merchant's shop. When he was five years old, Ramanujan went to the primary school in Kumbakonam although he would attend several different primary schools before entering the Town High School in Kumbakonam in January 1898. At the Town High School, Ramanujan did well in all his school subjects and showed himself as a talented student. In 1900 he began to work on his own on mathematics summing geometric and arithmetic series. Ramanujan was shown how to solve cubic equations in 1902 and he went on to find his own method to solve the quartic. It was in the Town High School that Ramanujan came across a mathematics book by G. S. Carr called Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure Mathematics. Ramanujan used this to teach himself mathematics. The book contained theorems, formulas and short proofs. It also contained an index to papers on pure mathematics. By 1904 Ramanujan had begun to undertake deep research. He investigated the series (1/n) and calculated Euler's constant to 15 decimal places. He began to study the numbers, which is entirely his own independent discovery. Ramanujan, on the strength of his good schoolwork, was given a scholarship to the Government College in Kumbakonam, which he entered in 1904. However the following year his scholarship was not renewed because Ramanujan devoted more and more of his time to mathematics and neglected his other subjects. Without money he was soon in difficulties and, without telling his parents, he ran away to the town of Vizagapatnam. He continued his mathematical work, and at this time he worked on hyper geometric series and investigated relations between integrals and series. He learned later that he had been studying elliptic functions. In 1906 Ramanujan went to Madras where he entered Pachaiyappa's College. His wanted to pass the First Arts examination that would allow him to be admitted to the University of Madras. He attended lectures at Pachaiyappa's College but became ill after three months study. He took the First Arts examination after having left the course. He passed in mathematics but failed all his other subjects and therefore failed the examination. This meant that he could not enter the University of Madras. In the following years he worked on mathematics developing his own ideas without any help and without any real idea of the then current research topics other than that provided by Carr's book. Continuing his mathematical work Ramanujan studied continued fractions and divergent series in 1908. At this stage he became seriously ill and underwent an operation in April 1909 after which he took him some considerable time to recover. He married on 14 July 1909 when his mother arranged for him to marry a ten year old girl Janaki Ammal. Ramanujan did not live with his wife until she was twelve years old. Ramanujan continued to develop his mathematical ideas and began to pose problems and solve problems in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. He developed relations between elliptic modular equations in 1910. After publication of a brilliant research paper on Bernoulli numbers in 1911 in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society he gained recognition for his work. Even though he lacked a university education, he was becoming well known in the Madras area as a mathematical genius. In 1911, Ramanujan approached the founder of the Indian Mathematical Society for advice on a job. After this he was appointed to his first job, a temporary post in the Accountant General's Office in Madras. He asked Ramachandra Rao,...
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