# Srinivasa Ramanujan: The Mathematical Prodigy Who Changed History

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## Chapter 1: An Insight into Ramanujan's Early Life

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887–1920) is a name that evokes brilliance and creativity in the realm of mathematics. Hailing from Erode, Tamil Nadu, near Madras, Ramanujan displayed an extraordinary affinity for numbers from a young age. Despite numerous hurdles and adversities, he captured the attention of renowned mathematicians, including G.H. Hardy (1877–1947), marking the beginning of his remarkable journey in mathematics.

His contributions to number theory, elliptic functions, continued fractions, and modular forms have significantly shaped the mathematical landscape.

In 1900, Ramanujan embarked on an independent study of mathematics, starting with geometric and arithmetic series. While attending Town's High School, he discovered a mathematics book by G. S. Carr, titled “Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure Mathematics.” This book, known for its clarity, became instrumental in his self-education in various mathematical concepts.

By 1904, his fervor for mathematics had intensified, leading him to conduct groundbreaking research. He delved into the series ?(1/n?) and calculated Euler’s constant to an impressive 15 decimal places, demonstrating his exceptional skill and dedication.

As his mathematical journey evolved, Ramanujan began to formulate and solve problems, contributing actively to the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. In 1910, he made strides by linking elliptic modular equations, which attracted the attention of the mathematical community. The following year, he published a noteworthy paper on Bernoulli numbers in the same journal, earning him recognition despite his lack of formal university education.

During the early 1900s, pursuing a career in mathematics was not seen as a viable path for earning a living in India. Nevertheless, Ramanujan remained steadfast in his passion and sought to share his work with mathematicians abroad. Many remarked on his unconventional approach and his absence of formal education.

In January 1913, Ramanujan reached out to G.H. Hardy after discovering Hardy’s book “Orders of Infinity.” In his letter, he introduced himself, stating:

“I have had no university education but I have undergone the ordinary school course. After leaving school, I utilized my spare time to study mathematics. I have not followed the conventional path of a university course, but I am forging my own way. I have made a special investigation into divergent series, and my results are considered ‘startling’ by local mathematicians.”

Hardy was captivated by Ramanujan’s work. His colleague Littlewood further examined Ramanujan’s findings, noting, “I think we can compare him with the great German mathematician, Jacobi.”

Hardy responded to Ramanujan, expressing interest in his letter and the theorems presented, but emphasized the necessity of reviewing proofs to properly assess their value. He classified Ramanujan's results into three categories: known results, new yet curious findings, and genuinely new and significant discoveries.

In 1914, Hardy invited Ramanujan to join him at Trinity College, Cambridge, which marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration that led to significant advancements in mathematics.

## Chapter 2: Ramanujan's Groundbreaking Contributions

The first video titled "Gems of Ramanujan and their Lasting Impact on Mathematics" explores the profound influence Ramanujan had on the field. His unique insights and innovative approaches revolutionized various mathematical concepts.

Ramanujan's work on continued fractions significantly advanced the understanding of this mathematical area, which expresses numbers as infinite sequences of fractions. He examined the convergence of several continued fraction expansions for constants like ? (pi) and e. Previously, approximating pi required approximately 600 terms, while Ramanujan developed a series that converged to 3.141592 after just one term.

His exploration of partition theory, which counts the ways an integer can be expressed as the sum of other integers, stands out as one of his remarkable contributions. This work was closely linked to his studies on continued fractions and is partially documented in his “Lost Notebook,” found years after his passing. The enumeration of integer partitions is vital in number theory, combinatorics, and probability theory.

Another important area of Ramanujan's research involved highly composite numbers, which are positive integers with more divisors than any smaller positive integer. He identified an infinite series of these numbers, starting with 1, 2, 4, 6, 12, and so forth, each with distinct divisor counts.

In 1917, during a hospital visit in London, Hardy shared with Ramanujan that he had traveled in a taxi with dull numbers. Ramanujan quickly pointed out that the taxi number, 1729, was in fact interesting. He explained that 1729 is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways. This discovery highlighted Ramanujan's deep mathematical insight and creativity, leading to the number being named the Hardy-Ramanujan number in their honor.

Ramanujan’s fascination with modular forms and elliptic functions opened new avenues in number theory and algebraic geometry. Today, modular forms are integral to various cryptographic techniques, coding theory, and even theoretical physics.

His work on mock theta functions has intriguing links to black hole physics, particularly in the context of quantum gravity. These functions, denoted as “?(q),” exhibit remarkable modular properties and have implications for understanding black hole entropy—a fundamental concept in theoretical physics. Although Ramanujan did not specifically study black holes during his lifetime, his mathematical discoveries have unexpectedly influenced theoretical physics and beyond.

The second video, "History of Indian Mathematics Part V: Ramanujan's Discoveries," provides a deeper understanding of Ramanujan's groundbreaking findings and their lasting significance in mathematics.

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