Washington: The world is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the greatest mathematical geniuses of all time.
Ramanujan was born to a poor family in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India on December 22, 1887.
To mark this occasion, the NOTICES OF THE AMS is publishing “Srinivasa Ramanujan: Going Strong at 125”, a collection of articles by top experts that discuss Ramanujan’s legacy and its impact on current mathematics.
The articles will appear in two instalments, the first in the December 2012 issue of the Notices (to be posted online on November 13, 2012), and the second in the January 2013 issue (to be posted online on December 6, 2012).
Ramanujan had an intimate familiarity with numbers that seems to have stemmed from his awe-inspiring ability to calculate with them. This ability gave him a profound understanding of numbers and their relationships.
The famous story about the “taxicab number” exemplifies this familiarity. At the invitation of the mathematician G.H. Hardy, Ramanujan visited Cambridge, England, in 1914 and lived there for several years.
Once when Hardy traveled by taxicab to pay a visit to Ramanujan, he remarked that the cab had had a very dull number, 1729. “No”, Hardy recalled Ramanujan as replying, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”
Ramanujan’s contributions to mathematics were cut short by his untimely death in 1920, when he was just 32.
He left behind several notebooks in which he recorded his findings, and these have been a wellspring of mathematical activity. Several world-class mathematicians have devoted much of their careers to understanding the material in the notebooks.
As a result, Ramanujan’s impact in mathematics has continued to grow over the years.