National Mathematics Day 2020: Remembering S. Ramanujan and his contributions to maths
National Mathematics Day 2020: Remembering S. Ramanujan and his contributions to maths
File Photo

In India, National Mathematics Day is celebrated on 22 December every year to mark the birth anniversary of legendary Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan and his contributions in the field of mathematics.

On 22 December 2012, the former Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, paid tribute to Srinivasa Ramanujan on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary in Chennai and declared December 22 as National Mathematics Day.

Who was S Ramanujan?

Ramanujan was one of the Greatest Mathematician of all times. He was born on 22 December 1887 into a Tamil family in Erode, Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu, India).

Ramanujan had an interest in mathematics since childhood. His interest in mathematics was unlocked by a book. The book was 'A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics' by George Shoobridge Carr. The book was full of theorems, many with proof and many without. He had found the book in 1903 when he was just 15 years of age. The book encouraged Ramanujan to jump in and make connections on his own. However, since the proofs included were often just one-liners, Ramanujan had a false impression of the rigour required in mathematics.

Despite being a prodigy in mathematics, Ramanujan did not have a great start to his career. He obtained a scholarship to college in 1904, but he quickly lost it by failing in nonmathematical subjects. He tried in a college in madras but there also he failed his first Arts exam. He drifted through poverty until 1910 when he got an interview with R. Ramachandra Rao, the secretary of the Indian Mathematical Society. Rao was initially doubtful about Ramanujan but eventually recognized his ability and supported him financially.

Ramanujan rose in prominence among Indian mathematicians, but his colleagues felt that he needed to travel to the West to return into contact with the forefront of mathematical research. Ramanujan started writing letters of introduction to professors at the University of Cambridge. His first two letters went unanswered, but his third—of January 16, 1913, to G.H. Hardy—hit its target.

Ramanujan was plagued by health problems throughout his life. His health worsened in England. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency and confined to a sanatorium. In 1919 he returned to Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency, and in 1920 he died at the age of 32.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal