Mathematician Srinavasa Ramanujan's handwritten notebooks in the possession of University of Madras Library.
Photo: V. Ganesan
The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel
"This moving and astonishing biography tells the improbable story of India-born Srinavasa Ramanujan Iyengar, self-taught mathematical prodigy. In 1913 Ramanujan, a 25-year-old clerk who had flunked out of two colleges, wrote a letter filled with startlingly original theorems to eminent English mathematician G. H. Hardy. Struck by the Indian's genius, Hardy, member of the Cambridge Apostles and an obsessive cricket aficionado, brought Ramanujan to England. Over the next five years, the vegetarian Brahmin who claimed his discoveries were revealed to him by a Hindu goddess turned out influential mathematical propositions. Cut off from his young Indian wife left at home and emotionally neglected by fatherly yet aloof Hardy, Ramanujan returned to India in 1919, depressed, sullen and quarrelsome; he died one year later of tuberculosis. Robert Kanigel gives nontechnical readers the flavor of how Ramanujan arrived at his mathematical ideas, which are used today in cosmology and computer science."