IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 22nd Dec
“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
EDITORIAL HUNT #282 :“The greatness of Srinivasa Ramanujan | UPSC”
The greatness of Srinivasa Ramanujan | UPSC
Varahasimhan is a history of science enthusiast based in Chennai
The greatness of Srinivasa Ramanujan
His works were diverse, original and transcended time; and all this while he surmounted many odds
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Personality in News
Srinivasa Ramanujan was the only Indian mathematician whose achievements were realised far after 50 years of his death . Discuss -(GS 1)
- Solving the first problem
- Research in mathematics
- Mathematical seriousness
- Attributes of Success
- Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who lived during the British Rule in India.
- He is known for his contributions in mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems then considered unsolvable.
- One of the first problems he posed in the journal was to find the value of root:
RESEARCH AT A FEVERISH PITCH
- BORN MATHEMATICIAN : Ramanujan, born on December 22, 1887 was an autodidact who specialised in pure mathematics.
- FOCAL POINT : While he excelled in mathematics, he neglected other subjects and could not complete his pre-university course.
- POVERTY AT DOORSTEP : He struggled in poverty until in 1910, a benefactor, Ramachandra Rao, district collector of Nellore, provided him monthly allowance from his own pocket so that Ramanujan could pursue research.
- SERVICE RECORDS : This would continue for a couple of years until Ramanujan managed to become a clerk at Madras Port Trust.
- PATRONS : He initiated contact with the British mathematician G.H. Hardy under whose insistence Ramanujan travelled to England in early 1914.
- RESEARCH PAPERS : His partnering with Hardy was productive: Ramanujan published more than 20 research papers between 1914 and 1919.
- DOCTORATE DEGREE : During his stay, he was awarded a doctorate and made Fellow of Royal Society.
- DEMISES : Unfortunately he lived only a year after his return succumbing to illness which was diagnosed then as tuberculosis but now revised as hepatic amoebiasis.
- RECORDS : Until he left for England in 1914, Ramanujan recorded his mathematical results, mostly equations, in his notebooks.There were three such notebooks (preserved now).
- DEEP INTUITION : One more was added when Ramanujan returned to India. Together there were about 4,000 results.The results were the culmination of research backed by deep intuition and insights.
- PROOF OF HIS RESULTS : Ramanujan did not record proofs of his results: that work would be taken up by future generations of mathematicians.
- THE SERIOUSNESS OF MATHEMATICS : The ‘seriousness’ of a mathematical theorem lies, not in its practical consequences, which are usually negligible, but in the significance of the mathematical ideas which it connects.
- RAMANUJAN CONJECTURE : One such was ‘Ramanujan conjecture’ which he published in 1916 and was proved in 1973 by Pierre Deligne.
- FERMAT’S THEOREM : The conjecture inspired the development of theory of Galois representation that was employed in Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s last theorem published in 1995.
- A few significant contributions were multiple formulae to calculate pi with great accuracy to billions of digits (22/7 is only an approximation to pi)
- Modular forms and hypergeometric series (the terms in every consecutive pair in the series form rational functions).
RECENT APPLICATIONS OF RAMANUJAN’S WORK
- Ramanujan’s works and their extensions have found applications in signal processing to identify periodic information, akin to Fourier analysis.
- For Ramanujan, mathematics was art.
- For Ramanujan, his mathematics was an end in itself.
HOW DID RAMANUJAN DEVELOP HIS MATHEMATICAL ABILITIES?
- He cultivated a feeling for form, a capacity for rapid modification of his hypothesis, that were often really startling, and made him, in his own peculiar field, without a rival in his day.
POWER OF INTUITION AND INSIGHT
- Let’s remember that Ramanujan was always precocious in his mathematical talent.
- By virtue of working alone on problems and theorems that were advanced for his age during adolescence, day after day, hour after hour, he developed an incredible power of intuition and insight.
- Ramanujan is remembered in many ways.
- The Ramanujan Journal publishes advancements in the areas that Ramanujan contributed to.
- His home in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu has been converted to a museum by SASTRA University.
- It is that he was prolific and that his works were diverse, original and transcended time; and all this while he surmounted many odds coming from indigence.
- Ramanujan’s works, especially to mathematicians, are of enduring elegance.
“In small proportions we just beauties see; And in short measures life may perfect be” – ‘The Noble Nature,’ Ben Jonson
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | The greatness of Srinivasa Ramanujan | UPSC