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125th Birthday of Ramanujan (usna.edu)
243 points by vipinsahu on Dec 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

A young George Polya, the Hungarian mathematician (and Stanford faculty) was in England once, and asked Hardy to see one of Ramanujan's notebooks. The next day, he returned the notebook in a panic, saying "there is so much in there, that I'll spend my entire life working on these proofs and never be able to do any original work". (paraphrased).

Ramanujan's accounts of how he arrived at the proofs ("the Goddess revealed it to me"), reminds me of Paul Erdos's "theory", that "God" has a big book of all possible proofs, called "The Book"; and if you're a nice mathematician, once in a while He will open the book and reveal one to you. Taking up this thread, a couple of mathematicians compiled some of the most beautiful proofs and published them as "Proofs from The Book". http://www.amazon.com/Proofs-THE-BOOK-Martin-Aigner/dp/36420...

I recommend the fantastic book: The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan. A good read even for someone not into mathematics.

I'd like to mention David Leavitt's The Indian Clerk: historical fiction about Hardy and Ramanujan. I enjoyed it very much.

+1 - a wonderful story and very accessible

I enjoyed this documentary -

Ramanujan: Letters from an Indian Clerk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OARGZ1xXCxs

I a huge fan of Ramanujan and one of my favorite story of his is: Ramanujan was in school and his teacher was explaining the concept of division when the numerator and denominator are the same. The teacher says "if there are 5 people in the class and we have 5 apples, then each one will get one apple. If we have 10 people and 10 apples, then each one will still get one apple".

Ramanujan asks the teacher, if there are zero people in the class and there are zero apples, will each person still get one apple?

I am not sure how old he was at that time but going by the topic, must have been in middle school. Amazing how his mind worked even at that young an age...

I believe the story was also mentioned in The Man Who Knew Infinity (but don't remember if the narrative is the same or not).

Google is honouring him with a doodle today

Edit: Looks like Google is displaying it only in India


Too bad nothing in the doodle has anything to do with anything Ramanujan did. (Beyond the level of "both contain square-root signs".)

I read GH Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology last month and adored the relationship Hardy and Ramanujan had.

(great book by the way - easy to read for even a non math person)

From the article: Ramanujan's results were (as Hardy put it) "arrived at by a process of mingled argument, intuition, and induction, of which he was entirely unable to give any coherent account".

We can only marvel at (1) the human brain, the workings of which we know so little (as recent events in Newtown tragically reminded us in a very different way); and (2) mathematics, with which such a brain was able somehow to interact so fruitfully.

I wonder what's special about the number 125?


Wasn't 1729 also the name of the team Waterhouse was part of in Cryptonomicon?

That was Detachment 2702 (which was originally Detachment 2701, but Lawrence worried that Rudy would notice the name since it's the product of two primes)

Not just that, but two palindromic primes!

125 is a power of 5 whose digits rearrange to a power of 2, namely 512, and I imagine its the only power that works like this. And if you complain about arbitrarily using base 10, that's just 2 times 5

> whose digits rearrange to

I think rearranging digits until the result has interesting properties is a dubious claim to fame. It evokes the pseudomathematics of numerology and is only one step away from nonsense like "The Bible Code".

Especially since "5 cubed" is respectable enough on its own.

Here is AMS Editor, Krishnaswami Alladi's, notice on the same - http://www.ams.org/notices/201211/rtx121101522p.pdf

The Hindu newspaper celebrates Ramanujan@125 here - http://www.thehindu.com/system/topicRoot/Ramanujan___125/

The question is in this day and age why can't we find another Ramanujan ? Have we somehow destroyed the ecosystem in which such a mind could exist and have a capacity for deep thoughts. Was he so special that someone like him could exist once every millennia. How many Ramanujans died before they could meet their Prof Hardy. Just wondering..

This thread on reddit (/r/math) celebrating Ramanujan's 125th birthday highlights some of his most interesting results and stories about him: http://www.reddit.com/r/math/comments/159q0h/today_is_sriniv...

UFL recenlty held a conference to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ramanujan's birth.


This man had unimaginable genius!

The Complicité theatre company made a wonderful play about Ramanujan called A Disappearing Number that was excellent and widely praised



His life story would make a very inspirational film. I see this old link from 2006 about an upcoming film, but can't find any stories about the finished film. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4811920.stm Was it cancelled perhaps?

He died at the young age of 32! What a tragedy! Simply amazing what he had accomplished by then. Always wondered the impact he would have had had he not died at such an young age.

I read the bio - and it appears that he was partly killed by the Brits' crappy food!

"But the alien climate and culture took a toll on his health. Ramanujan had always lived in a tropical climate and had his mother (later his wife) to cook for him: now he faced the English winter, and he had to do all his own cooking to adhere to his caste's strict dietary rules."

it was during a war. there was little food for everyone. he was also a strict vegetarian, which didn't help, and he was suffering from tb.

They mention that Hardy and Ramanujan solved P(n) - but I can't seem to find any information on their solution.

I'm not a maths person but this perked my interest - Anyone have more information?

They found an asymptotic series for p(n) -- the number of partitions of n, i.e. the number of ways to write n as a sum of positive integers where you don't count 1+2 and 2+1 as different ways -- with the property that if you take an appropriate number of terms, the nearest integer to the result equals p(n) exactly. Hans Rademacher later tweaked this to give a convergent series that gives p(n) exactly.

The first term of the series (both Hardy&Ramanujan's and Rademacher's) is 1/(4 n sqrt(3)) exp(pi sqrt(2n/3)), which is already a good approximation in the sense that the ratio p(n)/this_approximation(n) tends to 1 as n gets large. This approximation theorem was conjectured by Ramanujan before he came to England, and proved by him and Hardy jointly.

You can find the actual formulae at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_%28number_theory%29#A... and more details at http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Sp7z9sK7RNkC&pg=PA68&... .

A good tribute to the genius he was

I was watching Good Will Hunting last night. I didn't realize this guy was real.

Bill Gosper used Ramanujan's formula to calculate the first 17 million digits of pi

But was he poisoned by a jealous Brit? We will never know :(

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