Ramanujan was born Erode in Tamil Nadu, India on December 22, 1887. His mathematical genius began to show at a very early age and soon senior students began to haunt his house for clarifying doubts. When he was merely thirteen years of age, he mastered a book on Trigonometry. So taken by the subject was he that he launched his own research work. He put forward theorems and formulas that had been discovered earlier by great mathematicians but were not covered in the book.
The real turning point that triggered off his own creations came two years later, when a friend introduced the book Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics by George Shoobridge Carr to Ramanujan. Where any other person at the age of fifteen may have recoiled from the book, Ramanujan became delighted at the introduction. He began solving problems given in the book. With the floodgates now open, ideas began to pour forth. Such was the gush of ideas that Ramanujan found it difficult to write them all down. Can you hazard a guess on the number of papers that Ramanujan required per month for jotting his ideas? Two thousand!
He scribbled his results in loose sheets and notebooks. In fact, before he went abroad for pursuing his studies at the Cambridge University, he had filled three notebooks with his jottings, which later came to be known as Ramanujan’sFrayed Notebooks.
Ramanujan’s father, a clerk, however, could never fathom the boy’s obsession for numbers. Although the boy had secured a first class in his matriculation examination and had also been awarded the Subramanyan scholarship, he had failed in his first year college examinations. This was because, being obsessed with mathematics, he had neglected all other subjects. Desiring to bring his “mad” son back on the course of “normalcy”, the worried father got him married to a young girl of eight!
This put Ramanujan in real dilemma. He needed to find money to support self, wife and buy paper for his...