14. SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN
A Traditional, Cultural & Meaningful Biography
SECONDARY SCHOOL YEARS

Home Menu Previous Next
PRONUNCIATION KEY


Kumbakonam Town High Scool
In 1898 Ramanujan joined the I (First) Form (Class 6) in Kumbakonam Town High School. There he studied the next six years, until 1903, when he passed VI Form. In 1904, Ramanujan passed the Matriculation Examination of the Universiy of Madras.

Numbers Are My Friends
Ramanujan is supposed to have claimed, "Numbers are my friends." At a very young age he could rattle prime numbers, upto one crore. He was capable of working out sums with twenty steps in just two two steps. In case of mental sums, Ramanujan would blurt out the correct answer even before the teacher could finish the question. He came first in II Form and also won a special prize.

Bursting Out of His Class
While in III Form (Class 8), Ramanujan got very interested in mathematics and spent all his time to learn maths independent of the class. He was interested in Theory of Numbers, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry.

Birthday Magic Square
Ramanujan split his complete date of birth (22 12 1887) into four two-digit numbers as 22, 12, 18, 87. He constructed a 4 x 4 magic-sqare with top row filled by the above four numbers. He filled the twelve boxes in the other rows with distinct numbers in such a way that the four column totals, the four row totals and the two diagonal totals were all the same.

0-Person Gets 1 Mangoe From 0 Mangoes!
One day the teacher, teaching division, said, "Divide (share) 3 mangoes among 3 persons; each gets one mangoe. Likewise, if you divide 1000 mangoes among 1000 persons also, each gets one mangoe. So if you divide any number by the same number, the answer will always be 1." Immediately Ramanujan sprang up on his feet and asked the teacher whether the answer will be 1 if zero divides zero also. "If we share 0 mangoes among 0 persons will each 0-person get 1 mangoe?", he asked the teacher. Typically the teacher got extremely angry first. But Ramanujan argued with the teacher effectively. Later the teacher very much appreciated Ramanujan's intelligence.

Zero Divided by Zero
Ramanujan used to ask the value of zero divided by zero and then explain, "2 times 4 is 8, so if 8 is divided by 2, it is 4; likewise, 0 times anything is 0, so if 0 is divided by 0 is anything.

Loney's Trigonometry in Class 9
While in Form IV, he managed to get many higher maths books with the help of the school librarian. While reading these, he felt pleasantly transported to a totally different world. So he was more and more interested only in maths, of course at the cost of all other subjects. He mastered Loney's Trigonometry. He was always found to be calculating and writing something in his large slate or note-book.


Once, when Ramanujan was in IV Form, a senior student posed the above pair of equations (VI Form work!) and asked for the values of x and y. Ramanujan instantly answered that x is 9 and y is 4. By this time he had mastered Loney's Trigonometry.

Who is this Scholarly Professor?
While Ramanujan was in Vth Form (10th Standard in 1903), two college students were staying with him in his house paying for their boarding and lodging. One day Ramanujan heard them in a heated argument about how to solve a problem. Ramanujan attempted to point out the mistake in their method. But the two tried to brush him aside saying that how a Xth class boy would understand anything of the college maths. Ramanujan insisted and worked out the problem in their note-book in just 4 lines while they had done more than 15 lines and still could not complete the problem.

Their Professor saw the short and crisp method in the note-book in disbelief and wondered who the learned Professor with such a great skill was, when even the regular Professors could not give such a short solution. The pair laughed at this and replied that he was no Professor but a, 16 year old X Standard student, in the adjoining Town High School, named Ramanujan. From that day the two college students treated Ramanujan, not as a X Standard boy but only as a learned maths Professor. Through their recommendation, Ramanujan started tutoring a few college students for maths to make some extra income for the family.

Formulae Without Proof in Class 11
Ramanujan moved on to Form VI (Class 11) in 1903. That year he managed to get to read G.S. Carr's A Synopsis of Elementary Results, a book on Pure Matheatics. Carr had given about 4865 formulae (propositions, methods etc.) in algebra, analytical geometry, calculus and trigonometry, without proofs. As Ramanujan did not have access to any other book in Higher Maths he set to establish the formulae in the book. It is said that each time he proved one formula, he discovered many others!

26% to 85%
Ramanujan had a class-mate, Aravamudan, in VIth Form who was terribly afraid of mathemtics. His mother, Vedavalli (alias 'Echamu') was a friend of Komalam. She believed that her son will pass maths if Ramanujan tutored him. Even before his mother could intercede, Ramanujan assured the mami of help and started teaching Aravamudan from the very next day. The lad who scored 26% in maths, in the half-yearly exam, scored 85% in the final exam with just two months of coaching by Ramanujan.

Ramanujan's Exhortation: No One Should Fear Maths
When he took Aravaudhan, Ramanujan told him, "No one should fear maths. Compared to other subjects, one can score full 100% marks only in maths. This is an very easy subject. If we find out short methods to solve problems and keep them deep in our mind, maths itself will become our good friend."

First Student in Matriculation - 1904
In the Matriculation Examination of the University of Madras in 1904, he came first in Kumbakonam Town High School. He also scored the highest marks in maths. He got many prizes and certificates. Now Ramanujan joins the Government Arts College at Kumbakonam.