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Nandy, A. (1979). Ramanujan in England: An East-West Collaboration in Science. Psychoanal. Rev., 66(3):423-442.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Review, 66(3):423-442

Ramanujan in England: An East-West Collaboration in Science

Ashis Nandy, Ph.D.


The real break for Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar (1887-1920), the untrained Indian mathematical genius, came at the beginning of 1913 when he was twenty-five. That year, encouraged by two of his local patrons, he sent the “bare statements” of some 120 theorems, mainly formal identities, to the well-known Cambridge mathematician G. H. Hardy (1877-1947). This was the first step toward the most legendary collaboration between two mathematicians of modern times and perhaps the most remarkable East-West scientific collaboration of all times.a

At the time when he wrote to Hardy, Ramanujan was working for the Port Trust in Madras on a redoubtable salary of Rs 25 per month. He still wore home-washed unironed clothes and used red ink to do his mathematical work on previously used paper. But he was no more an unknown, half-educated Brahmin obsessed with mathematics. His fame had spread beyond his home town, Kumbhakonam, his papers had already been published in the journal of the Indian Mathematical Society, and some had already begun to call him a genius.

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