Since 2012, National Mathematics Day is celebrated on December 22 in the memory of one of the finest and most legendary of mathematicians, Srinivasa Ramanujan. On this day various seminars, workshops, programmes, debates and lectures are held in universities, mathematical institutions, and schools throughout the country with the objective to encourage students to pursue their natural curiosity in mathematics and to stimulate and develop their skills in logic and reasoning.
So, let’s first know about this genius Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan was born in 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu. When he was nearly five years old, Ramanujan entered the primary school in Kumbakonam. At the age of just 12, despite having no formal education, Ramanujan excelled in Trigonometry and developed many of his own theorems. Ramanujan made his way to Britain in 1914 where G. H. Hardy got him into the Trinity College, Cambridge. Ramanujan lived a simple life in Cambridge. In 1917 he was elected as the member of London Mathematical society. He also became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1918, the youngest in history to be a member of this society. Ramanujan returned to India in 1919 due to ill health. On his return, his health deteriorated and he died in 1920 at the age of 32, suffering from Tuberculosis.
A man with a humble beginning, Ramanujan went on to become of the most famous mathematicians in the world. He is often called, “The man who knew infinity”. He is known especially for his contribution to number theory and the advances he made in portion function, Riemann series, elliptic integrals, hypergeometric series, and functional equation of zeta function. During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations). His interaction with Hardy in a hospital, where Hardy said he reached in a cab with the “unremarkable” number 1729, gives insights into Ramajunan’s mastery over the pattern of numbers. Ramanujan told Hardy that 17289 was the smallest number that can be expressed as a sum of two different cubes in two different ways. Ramanujan is also known for his interesting ‘magic square’ in which the row sum, column sum, diagonal sum, corner sum and sum of 2 by 2 squares of any numbers is always 139. In fact, Ramanujan adjusts his date of birth in the first row of the square and yet it holds the desired property.
Why should we celebrate
National Mathematics Day?
A question may arise as to why we should celebrate such a day or what do we achieve by celebrating National Mathematics Day? The answer is that Mathematics is a subject with a larger relevance to our routine life. From counting and measurement to fields like engineering, medical sciences and computing, mathematics is the principle guiding subject. A strong mathematical background is essential for good performance and achievement in many fields. Mathematics is often called the queen of sciences. The famous Indian ‘woman calculator’, mathematician Shakuntala Devi said: “Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.”
The concepts of mathematics are widely used in Physics, Chemistry, Medical Science, Economics, Banking, etc. Mathematics enables us to solve problems and demonstrates that problems are solvable when worked out by using certain rules and techniques.
Considering this wider significance and scope of mathematics, we have to introduce and encourage a mathematical culture in our schools. Celebrating National Mathematics Day is a way to promote mathematical teaching and learning. It is to educate the new generations of students about the contribution of India and Indians in the field of mathematics. It is to educate them about the achievement of famous Indian mathematicians like Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara, Ramanujan, P.C. Mahalanobis, Shakuntala Devi, etc.
Celebrating Mathematics Say in schools, colleges and universities can develop interest among students towards mathematics. It can eliminate the fear and phobia of mathematics among students as many a student faces severe math phobia right from their earlier classes, which affects their overall educational performance and growth. Any individual who wants to excel in today’s competitive world must embrace this beautiful subject. If taught in a better way by making it practically relevant to life, mathematics will not seem boring and difficult to students. If teachers present mathematics as a helpful and useful tool to students, and motivate them to study mathematics, then they will definitely find everlasting joy in doing mathematics.
—The writer is a post graduate from the Department of Mathematics, Central University of Kashmir.