Shakuntala Devi Death Anniversary: Lesser-known facts about India's 'Human Computer'
By 中央通訊社 - Wikimedia

Shakuntala Devi as we all know was an Indian mathematician, writer and mental calculator. She is more popularly known as the "Human Computer". This talent of hers earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guiness Book of World Records. She strove to simplify numerical calculations for students. She passed away on 21 April 2013 at the age of 83 due to heart and kidney complications.

Here are some lesser known facts about India's Math whizz:

  1. She was born in Bangalore, Karnataka.

She was born into a Kannada Brahmin family.

  1. Her mathematical abilities were discovered by her father:

Shakuntala Devi's father - CV Sundararaja Rao worked as a trapeze artist, lion tamer, tightrope walker and magician in a circus. He discovered his daughter's ability to memorize numbers while teaching her a card trick when she was about three years old. Her father left the circus and took her on road shows that displayed her ability at calculation.

  1. She did not receive any formal schooling:

Shakuntala was admitted to St. Theresa Convent in Chamrajpet, Bangalore in the first standard. Later, she had to drop out as her family could not afford the monthly fees of Rs 2.

  1. Her impeccable mathematical talents were recognised at the age of six:

She proved her arithmetic abilities at the age of six at the University of Mysore, Annamalai University, Osmania University and other universities in Hyderabad and Vishakapatnam. Her passion to expand the human capacity made her develop the concept known as Mind Dynamics.

  1. She moved to London:

In 1944, she moved to London.

  1. In early 1960, Shakuntala got married to an IAS officer named Paritosh Banerjee:

They divorced in 1979 due to personal problems. Her husband was a homosexual.

  1. She wrote a book titled, 'The World of Homosexuals':

Her book was the first published academic study of homosexuality in India. Her interest in the topic was because of her marriage to a homosexual man and her desire to look at homosexuality more closely to understand it.

  1. She has a daughter:

Her daughter's name is Anupama Banerjee and she is married to Ajay Abhaya Kumar. They have a daughter together and they reside in London.

  1. She travelled around the world demonstrating her arithmetic talents:

Shakuntala believed that her talent was God gifted and she wanted to spread the message of God.

  1. In 1977, Shakuntala Devi derived the 23rd root of a 201 digit number in fifty seconds:

The answer 546,372,891 was verified by calculations done at the US Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer. A special program was written to perform such large calculations. However, she could do the calculations faster than the program.

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