Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) is one of the greatest Mathematicians of the twentieth century. Well known mathematicians Professors G.H. Hardy and J.E. Littlewood compared Ramajuan’s mathematical abilities and natural genius with all-time great mathematicians like Leonhard Euler, Carl Friedrich Gauss and Karl Gustav Jacobi. The influence of Ramanujan on number theory is without parallel in mathematics. His papers, problems and letters would continue to captivate mathematicians in the future. He rediscovered a century of mathematics and made new discoveries.
Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar (best known as Srinivasa Ramanujan) was born on 22 December, 1887 in Erode about 400 km from Chennai (formerly known as Madras). While at school, Ramanujan came across a book entitled “A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics” by George Shoobridge Carr. This book had a great influence on Ramanujan’s career. G.H. Hardy (1877 – 1947), a prominent English mathematician wrote about the book: “He (Carr) is now completely forgotten, even in his college, except in so far as Ramanujan kept his name alive”. Ramanujan solved all the problems in Carr’s Synopsis. While working on Carr’s Synopsis, he discovered many others new formulae, and he began the practice of compiling a notebook. Between 1903 and1914 he had compiled three notebooks.
Much of Ramanujan’s mathematics comes under the field of number theory – a purest realm of mathematics. During his short lifetime, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3900 results (mostly identities and equations). He stated results that were both original and highly unconventional, such as the Ramanujan prime and the Ramanujan theta function, and these have inspired a vast amount of further research in the area of mathematics.
The story of Srinivasa Ramanujan is a 20th century rags to mathematical riches story. It is also a story of human spirit of inquiry. Despite the fact that he has no university education, Ramanujan was well known to the university mathematicians in Madras. It is also fact that Ramanujan’s early year were spent in a scientifically sterile atmosphere and his life from childhood till the time he return back to India from London was full of hardship. In his early days he even did not had paper to write. The circumstances under which it continued his passion for mathematics and gone to Cambridge, supported by eminent mathematicians and returned back with all glory appears to our younger generation nothing short of miracle. The life and work of Ramanujan has enough content to inspire our youths to break their bonds of intellectual confinement and perhaps soar the way that Ramanujan did.