Ramanujam was born on 22nd December, 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu, in India to a Tamil Brahmin couple. His father, K. Srinivasa Iyengar was a clerk at a sari shop in Kumbakonam, while his mother Komalatammal was a simple housewife. From an early age, Ramanujan showed an increased level of intelligence and prowess in mathematics. Although he was a bright boy, he was quite rebellious when it came to his studies. When he was sent to Madras (present day Chennai) to study, he would skip class as he hated the school there, despite having a police constable at his heels. He returned to Kumbakonam, where he graduated from elementary and middle school with flying colours. It was during the age of 16 that he finally had his revelation that he was destined to be a mathematician, when he was given a copy of A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics by G. S. Carr. From then on, he devoted his life to mathematics alone. Although his bright mind had earned him a scholarship at the Government Arts College in Kumbakonam, his one-trackedness towards mathematics caused him to lose it, and soon found himself with no education, no shelter and no food either. However, he still carried on with his research, which paid off when he was offered the position of a researcher at Madras University. He married Janakiammal in 1909.
His Pursuit of Mathematics
Ramanujan met with the founder of the Indian Mathematical Society, who helped him fund his research and publish his work in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. As he hopped from one job to another, he was constantly dedicating himself to his research, while being supported by many mathematicians, including his colleagues, who tried presenting his work to English Mathematicians at Cambridge. While it was initially faced with rejection, a certain mathematician named G. H. Hardy took interest in his work, and was awestruck. He invited Ramanujan to come to England, but Ramanujan refused, citing his Brahmin upbringing as a reason. However, other mathematicians managed to fund his research and travel, and he was finally convinced to go. Thus, on 17th March, 1914, Ramanujan boarded the S. S. Nevasa to make his journey to England. Once he arrived there, he began working under the mentorship of Hardy and his colleague Littlewood. Hardy and Ramanujan were poles apart; while the former was careful and methodical in his approach, the latter was more intuitive and unorganized. Their interests often conflicted as Hardy tried to get Ramanujan to provide proofs for his mathematical discoveries, while not stifling his imagination and inspiration. Ramanujan was often compared to Euler, Gauss and Jacobi at that time. On 13 October 1918, he became the first Indian to be elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
While in England, Ramanujan suffered from malnutrition and frequent bouts of illness, owing to World War I from 1914-1918. He returned to India in 1919, where he passed away in Kumbakonam in the year 1920, at the age of 32. He was misdiagnosed to have tuberculosis and vitamin deficiency, but was later revealed to actually have been hepatic amoebiasis. After his death, Ramanujan's brother compiled all his notes.
Contributions to the World of Mathematics
His main contribution to the world of mathematics was the Ramanujam conjecture, an assertation on the tau function. His notes all have mathematical theories, but without the proofs. It is stipulated that he may not have written those due to the high cost of paper, or maybe he simply chose not to.
Another interesting contribution was the Hardy-Ramanujan number, 1729, which can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways: 13 + 123 = 93 + 103
Ramanujan and The Tessera
It is said that Hardy convinced Ramanujan to join The Tessera. There seems to be a lost notebook containing more of Ramanujan's works, which he likely handed over to Ada Lovelace for safekeeping. Apparently his mother had given birth to more of his siblings, but they all perished. Rumour says that S was behind this, and Ramanujan was lucky to have escaped death so early on, owing his survival to the Indian goddess Mahalakshmi. However, he couldn't evade S for long, as S plagued him with dysentery, which ultimately led to his untimely death.