The Man who knew Infinity

Sat 14 November 2020 by Thejaswi Puthraya

A shipping clerk put India on the mathematical map in the early 1900s. His work is still being decoded to this day and his genius is still as mysterious.

Srinivasa Ramanujan had an ordinary life until his letter to the famous English mathematician, GH Hardy brought him to England to work on numbers and their series. Culturally neither could understand each other but their professional collaboration would be the matter of discussion for decades to come.

Robert Kanigel's biography of Ramanujan provides a window into his childhood while providing a context through the societal norms in colonial India. Just this makes it a worthwhile book.

The struggles of Ramanujan in England with the climate, the culture and the wartime rationing break your heart and wish that Ramanujan would have been better off if he had been born a few decades later.