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Short Biography Of Ramanujan
Srinivasa Ramanujan was born December 22, 1887, in the city of Erode, in his grandmother’s house. Outside of his life in mathematics, Ramanujan was a very religious person. He was a Hindu, and especially worshipped the Hindu god Narashima.
Narashima is the fourth reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the main god of the Hindu religion. Ramanujan’s father was a textile clerk and his mother was a singer. His mother had two other children, however, they died during the industry. Just like his other two siblings, Srinivasa also almost lost his life at an early age. At the age of five, Ramanujan contracted smallpox.
However, he was able to recover from the disease, considering his family had no money to spend on medical expenses. This was uncommon since many of the children were also contracting smallpox and dying from it.
This early disease may have weakened his body to fight disease, which may have been the reason why he died so early. It is interesting to note that Srinivasa means a person who contains a particle of the god Rama, and his last name, Ramanujan, roughly means one who abides in wealth in English.
Although Ramanujan’s family was poor, they were respectable because of his grandmother, who was a minor official in a local court. This level of respect in the family is what allowed Ramanujan to attend school.
What’s more, Ramanujan’s family used their house to room international students, which is how Ramanujan was introduced to higher-level mathematics at a young age when he received a mathematics book from one of the rooming students.
While at school, Ramanujan was considered a well-rounded student, able to excel in all subjects. This held true until his passion for mathematics took over. He would devote all of his time to this subject, and as a result, he would fail his examinations at the end of the school year. As a result, he lost his scholarship to attend school and needed to find a job.
Fortunately, he was able to work for one of his previous professors as a postal clerk. Working with his old professor allowed Ramanujan to put more focus on mathematics and the book that was given to him by one of the rooming students, titled, ”A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics” by G.S. Carr.
The book held five thousand high-level mathematical theorems, most of which had no proofs. It was given to him at the age of sixteen, and even with all the time Ramanujan put into his mathematical work, he was still able to find a wife, due to the efforts of his mother in 1909.
Her name was Janaki, and at the time of her marriage, she was only ten, while Ramanujan was twenty-two years old! However, he was content with his wife and was upset at times with his mother when she would interfere with their relationship.
During Srinivasa’s time with his wife, he contracted hydrocele testis, which is the swelling of the membrane of the testicle. Again, Ramanujan did not have the money to pay for the surgery. Fortunately, from the charity of a surgeon, he was able to get the operation done for free. Due to the encouragement of friends and colleagues, he began sending his work to British mathematicians in 1913.
His work and efforts eventually landed him as an apprentice to G.H. Hardy, one of if not the leading mathematicians in Europe. However, working with Hardy meant going to England. Ramanujan was a devout Hindu and was not initially up for the idea of going to a foreign land; so on the first request, he refused.
His mother, Komalatammal, also did not approve. She did finally agree to allow Ramanujan to go to England after she prayed to Namagiri and had a dream claiming to have seen Ramanujan with a halo above his head in conversion with other men. Ramanujan did great work with G.H. Hardy and was eventually given a Bachelor of Science degree for his research at Cambridge. This Bachelor’s would be later changed to a Ph.D.
During Ramanujan’s time in England, it was a challenge for him to conform to British culture. The weather had a noticeable effect on Ramanujan, who was used to the tropical heat of his Erode, India. Because of his religion, Srivnivasa also did not eat much of the food in Britain (people who practice Hinduism do not eat meat that involved the killing of animals). He would have his friends and family send food to him, which became cumbersome during the winter-time.
The work Ramanujan did with Hardy abruptly came to an end when he contracted Tuberculosis. His health was already beginning to fail when he was going back and forth from England to India in the last two years of his life. He even dealt with depression, and once tried to kill himself by jumping in front of a train.
However short Ramanujan’s life may have been, it certainly was not unfulfilled, as he was able to conceive thousands of theorems and formulas over his thirty-two years of life. Srinivasa Ramanujan died on April 26, 1920, of tuberculosis.
Conversely, it was later concluded that Ramanujan was dealing with liver disease as well. It is interesting to note that years after the death of Ramanujan, many scholars believed that he may have had a form of autism, called Asperger’s Syndrome.
It is said that people with Asperger’s are able to function in human society, but are lacking in the level of common sense. In addition to that, Ramanujan began speaking later than normal and would talk to people instead of to them. Ramanujan’s single-mindedness on just mathematics is another example that he may have lived with Asperger’s Syndrome.
|No. of Pages||12|
|PDF Size||0.3 MB|
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