Srinivasa Ramanujan : The Great Mathematician

rmanujanSrinivasa Ramanujan, (Born December 22, 1887, Erode, India—died April 26, 1920, Kumbakonam), Indian mathematician whose contributions to the theory of numbers include pioneering discoveries of the properties of the partition function.

When he was 15 years old, he obtained a copy of George Shoobridge Carr’s Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics, 2 vol. (1880–86). This collection of some 6,000 theorems (none of the material was newer than 1860) aroused his genius. Having verified the results in Carr’s book, Ramanujan went beyond it, developing his own theorems and ideas. In 1903 he secured a scholarship to the University of Madras but lost it the following year because he neglected all other studies in pursuit of mathematics.


Ramanujan continued his work, without employment and living in the poorest circumstances. After marrying in 1909 he began a search for permanent employment that culminated in an interview with a government official, Ramachandra Rao. Impressed by Ramanujan’s mathematical prowess, Rao supported his research for a time, but Ramanujan, unwilling to exist on charity, obtained a clerical post with the Madras Port Trust.

In 1911 Ramanujan published the first of his papers in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. His genius slowly gained recognition, and in 1913 he began a correspondence with the British mathematician Godfrey H. Hardy that led to a special scholarship from the University of Madras and a grant from Trinity College, Cambridge. Overcoming his religious objections, Ramanujan traveled to England in 1914, where Hardy tutored him and collaborated with him in some research.

  • He sent a set of 120 theorems to Professor Hardy of Cambridge. As a result he invited Ramanujan to England.
  • Ramanujan showed that any big number can be written as sum of not more than four prime numbers.
  • He showed that how to divide the number into two or more squares or cubes.
  • When Mr. Littlewoods came to see Ramanujan in taxi number 1729, Ramanujan said that 1729 is the smallest number which can be written in the form of sum of cubes of two numbers in two ways, i.e. 1729 = 93 + 10= 1+ 123 since then the number 1729 is called Ramanujan’s number.
  • In the third century B.C, Archimedes noted that the ratio of circumference of a circle to its diameter is constant. The ratio is now called ‘pi ( Π )’ (the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet series)
  • The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 1053 with specific names as early as 5000 B.C. during the Vedic period.


With the help of Ramaswamy Ayer, had his work published in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society.

One of the first problems he posed in the journal was:


He waited for a solution to be offered in three issues, over six months, but failed to receive any. At the end, Ramanujan supplied the solution to the problem himself. On page 105 of his first notebook, he formulated an equation that could be used to solve the infinitely nested radical’s problem.


Ramanujan’s work and life are celebrated on 22 December at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras in Chennai. The Department of Mathematics celebrates this day by organizing a National Symposium on Mathematical Methods and Applications (NSMMA) for one day by inviting eminent Indian and foreign scholars.

A prize for young mathematicians from developing countries has been created in the name of Ramanujan by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), in cooperation with the International Mathematical Union, which nominate members of the prize committee. The Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA), based in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, has instituted the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize of $10,000 to be given annually to a mathematician not exceeding the age of 32 for outstanding contributions in an area of mathematics influenced by Ramanujan. The age limit refers to the years Ramanujan lived, having nevertheless still achieved many accomplishments. This prize has been awarded annually since 2005, at an international conference conducted by SASTRA in Kumbakonam, Ramanujan’s hometown, around Ramanujan’s birthday, 22 December.

On the 125th anniversary of his birth, India declared the birthday of Ramanujan, December 22, as ‘National Mathematics Day.‘ The declaration was made by Dr. Manmohan Singh in Chennai on December 26, 2011. Dr Manmohan Singh also declared that the year 2012 would be celebrated as the National Mathematics Year.