Honoring the study of Mathematics

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On National Mathematics day…

Ishfaq Chopan

Every year India celebrates its National Mathematics Day on 22, December in the memory of one of its finest and legendary mathematicians Srinivasa Ramanujan. Since 2012 this day is being celebrated to recognise the contribution and acknowledge the work of this genius Indian mathematician and various seminars, workshops, programs, debates and lectures are held in the universities and other 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 and natural strength in logic and reasoning.

So let’s first know about this great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan was born in 1887 in Erode Tamil Nadu. When he was five, Ramanujan entered the primary school in Kumbakonam and at 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 Hardy got him into the Trinity College, Cambridge choosing a simple life in Cambridge.

In 1917 he was elected as the member of London Mathematical society and also became a fellow of Royal Society in 1918- one of the youngest in history to be a member of this society. Ramanujan returned to India in 1919 due to ill health which deteriorated further and he died in 1920 just at the age of 32, suffering from Tuberculosis. However, he is highly regarded for his contribution and work in the field of mathematics.

A man with a humble and difficult beginning, Ramanujan, pursued research in mathematics. Living in poverty, his hard work and passion made him one of the most reputed mathematicians in the world so much so that he is often called “The man who knew infinity”. He is known for his contribution in the field of number theory and his advances 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 episode of interaction with Hardy in a hospital on a Taxi Cab number 1729 hints about his expertise and vision on pattern of numbers. Ramanujan proposed that it is smallest number that can be expressed as a sum of two different cubes in two different ways.

Ramanujan is also known for one of his interesting magic square in which the row sum, column sum, diagonal sum, corner sum and sum of any 2 by 2 square of elements is always 139 and infact Ramanujan adjusts his whole date of birth in the first row of the square and yet it holds the desired property.

Mathematics is a subject with larger relevance to our routine life and people like Ramanujan who excelled in the understanding of mathematics clearly demonstrated the great significance of it in our daily lives as well as in understanding the principle governing universe and beyond. From counting and measurement to fields like engineering, medical sciences and computing world mathematics is a principle guiding subject. So, a strong mathematical background is very much essential for a very good performance and achievement in many fields. Mathematics is often called the queen of science. Famous Indian woman calculator mathematician Shakuntala Devi quotes:

“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 the subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Medical science, Economics, Banking etc. Mathematics enables us to solve problem and demonstrates that problems are solvable when worked out by using the rules and standard 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 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 lives, contribution and achievement of various famous Indian mathematicians including Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara, Ramanujan, P.C. Mahalanobis, Shakuntala Devi etc.

Celebrating mathematics day in schools, colleges and universities can generate awareness as well as interest among students to aspire for mathematics as a subject of their interest. It can eliminate the fear and phobia of mathematics among students as many a student’s face severe math phobia right from their earlier classes affecting their overall educational performances. If an individual wants to excel in today’s competitive world there is a need to embrace this beautiful subject. If taught in a better way by making it practically relevant to life mathematics will seem no way boring and difficult to students. If teachers present mathematics as a helpful and useful tool to students by motivating them to study mathematics then they will definitely found an everlasting joy in doing mathematics.

Author is a post graduate from the Department of Mathematics, Central University of Kashmir.


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