Srinivasa Ramanujan: The Man Who Knew Infinity. Greatest Indian Mathematician.

  • Age 0: Born to a poor family in Madras, India
  • Age 2: Encounters smallpox and recovers unlike thousands in same neighborhood who died.
  • Age 10: First encounter with Mathematics.
  • Age 11: Exhausts mathematical knowledge of two college students who were lodging at his home.
  • Age 12: Gets his hands on Advanced Trigonometry by S.L.Loney.
  • Age 13: Masters Advanced Trigonometry and starts developing his own theorems.
  • Age 16: Some friend gets him library copy of book titled A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics and was a collection of 5000 theorems.
  • Age 17: Independently researches Bernoulli numbers and calculates Euler’s constant upto 15 decimal places.
  • Age 18: Gets college scholarship and loses it subsequently as he couldn’t focus on subjects other than mathematics. Runs away from home.
  • Age 19: Enrolls in another college but again fails to clear his Fine Arts degree exam.
  • Age 20: With no degree in hand leaves college, yet continuing his independent research. Living in extreme poverty and is now on brink of starvation.
  • Age 22: Gets married and also develops a life threatening disease. But got no money for surgery so a doctor volunteers and does the surgery for free.
  • Age 23: Goes door to door in city of Madras looking for a job of clerk. Finally makes some money by tutoring college students for the same FA exam that he failed few years ago.
  • Age 24: Somehow his mathematics notebooks started getting circulated in Maths community of Madras and lands with the Secretary of Indian Mathematical Society. And finally some of his works gets published in Journal of Indian Mathematical Society.
  • Age 25: Gets a temporary job as clerk for 20 rupees per month. (1 INR = approx $12 that time). Lasts only few weeks.
  • Age 26. Another clerk position and this time he is making 30 rupees a month. His boss and colleagues here encouraged him in his mathematical pursuits.
  • Age 27: He writes to G.H. Hardy who initially thinks that his work was “fraud as it was impossible to believe”. Later he figured that Ramanujan’s theorems “must be true, because, if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them”.
  • Age 27+: Hardy invites Ramanujan to Cambridge. But Ramanujan in accordance to his Brahmin upbringing refuses to leave the country to “go to a foreign land”. Although he does send him a bunch of theorems, saying “I have found a friend in you who views my labour sympathetically.”
  • Age 27++: Gets research scholarship at University of Madras on an endorsement from Hardy.
  • Age 27+++: Finally agrees to move to England. Hardy and him start looking at his notebooks again. Some results were wrong, some were already discovered but the rest were phenomenal.
  • Age 29: Gets his PhD from Cambridge on highly composite numbers.
  • Age 30: Becomes member of London Mathematical Society.
  • Age 31: Fellow of Royal Society.
  • Age 31+: Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
  • Age 32: Gets diagnosed with Tuberculosis and Vitamin deficiencies. Returns to India and dies soon thereafter at the age of 32.

Most of his work done in Madras is in the form of final results without any derivations so his theorems had be be proved by others over time before he got any recognition. He is said to have listed over 3900 results and theorems and most of which have been proved correct.

Hardy once commented (paraphrased) : Out of 100 points, I would give myself 30 as a mathematician, 45 to Littlewood, 70 to Hilbert, and 100 to Ramanujan

In fact, in the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting, Will has been compared to Ramanujan by his prof.