Last modified on April 9, 2019, at 21:51

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who had many equational insights about number theory. He was brought to England by Hardy.

Early education

Ramanujan's gifts became apparent early. Ramanujan entered Town High's first form at the age of ten, corresponding to about an American seventh grade. And already while he was in the second form, his classmates were coming to him for help with mathematics problems.
Soon, certainly by the third form, he was challenging his teachers. One day, the math teacher pointed out that anything divided by itself was one: Divide three fruits among three people, he was saying, and each would get one. Divide a thousand fruits among a thousand people, and each would get one. So Ramanujan piped up: "But is zero divided by zero also one? If no fruits are divided among no one, will each still get one?"[1]

Controversy over insights

Ramanujan's mathematical insights often did not come with proofs, and though many were true, many also turned out to be false.

He claimed that he received some of these insights from Hindu gods in his dreams or in drops of blood.[2] Some Christians have criticized this, saying that such shallow (no proofs) insights, some of which were false prophecies, may very well have come from Satan.[2]

Notes

  1. The Man Who Knew Infinity, page 25 - Robert Kanigel
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Passion for Mathematics: Numbers, Puzzles, Madness, Religion, and the Quest for Reality By Clifford A. Pickover