What were some of Srinivasa Ramanujan's contributions?


Quick Answer

Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who contributed significantly to the field, especially in the arena of number partitions. He impressed his mentors and peers because he had very little formal training and worked out many complex concepts himself.

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Full Answer

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born in Tamil Nadu, India, in 1887. When he was 15, he obtained a copy of the second volume of "Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics" by George Shoobridge. Much of the material in the book was out of date, but nevertheless it spurred Ramanujan to delve into the subject and formulate his own theories.

He studied in Cambridge, England, under Godfrey Hardy, after beginning a correspondence with him by mail. It was in England that he made significant progress in the partition of numbers. Partition of a number is a way of writing a number as a sum of positive integers. For example, 4 can be partitioned as the sum of 3 and 1. He and Hardy solved the problem of partitioning p(n), previously a mystery to mathematicians because while it is possible to partition it recursively, there is no explicit formula for it.

Through his work in Cambridge, Ramanujan earned considerable acclaim for his ideas, which were published in many academic journals throughout Europe.

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