Early Life

  • Ramanujan was born in Erode, a small village in Tamil Nadu on 22 December 1887.
  • His father worked as a clerk in a cloth merchant’s shop in Kumbakonam.
  • Ramanujan enrolled in the primary school at the age of twelve.
  • In 1898 he joined the Town High School in Kumbakonam.
  • At the Town High School, Ramanujan did well in all subjects and proved himself an able all round scholar.

Ramanujan College Education

  • In the school, he came across the book Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure Mathematics by G. S. Carr.
  • He was influenced by the book and began working on mathematics on his own, summing geometric and arithmetic series.
  • Government College in Kumbakonam gave him the scholarship.
  • Ramanujan neglected all subjects other than mathematics. So, Government College in Kumbakonam didn’t renew his scholarship.
  • In 1905 he appeared for the First Arts examination. He got admission in the University of Madras.
  • Again he failed in all subjects other than mathematics, a performance he repeated in 1906 and 1907 too.
  • In the following years he worked on mathematics, with only Carr’s book as a guide, noting his results in what would become the famous Notebooks.
  • He got married in 1909 and started looking for a job.

Professional Life

  • His search took him to many influential people, among them Ramachandra Rao, one of the founding members of the Indian Mathematical Society.
  • Ramachandra Rao supported him by giving him Rs. 25 per month.
  • He started posing and solving problems in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society.
  • His research paper on Bernoulli numbers, in 1911, brought him recognition and he became well known in Chennai as a mathematical genius.
  • In 1912, with Ramachandra Rao’s help, he secured the post of clerk in the accounts section of the Madras Port Trust.
  • He continued to pursue mathematics and in 1913 he wrote to G. H. Hardy in Cambridge, enclosing a long list of his own theorems.
  • Hardy immediately recognized Ramanujan’s mathematical ability.
  • University of Madras awarded Ramanujan a scholarship in 1913 on the basis of Hardy’s letters
  • In 1914, Hardy arranged for him to go to Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • Ramanujan’s work with Hardy produced important results right from the beginning.
  • In 1916 Ramanujan graduated from Cambridge with a Bachelor of Science by Research.
  • In 1918, he was elected a Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, all in the same year.
Ramanujan with his peers
Ramanujan with his peers
  • However, from 1917 onwards he was seriously ill and mostly bedridden. In 1919 he returned to India, in very poor health.
  • He made outstanding contributions to analytical number theory, elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series.
  • His published and unpublished works have kept some of the best mathematical brains in the world busy to this day.

Illness and death

  • He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and a severe vitamin deficiency.
  • In 1919 he returned to Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency, and soon thereafter, in 1920, died at the age of 32.

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