The Man who knew Infinity: BSEM Class 10 English (Course) notes

The Man who knew Infinity bosem bsem class 10
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Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of the greatest mathematical geniuses the world has ever seen. He was an unknown clerk in Madras (now Chennai), India who made remarkable contributions to various branches of mathematics despite having no formal training.

In 1913, the renowned English mathematician G.H. Hardy received a strange letter from Ramanujan containing about 120 statements of theorems on infinite series, fractions and numbers that displayed an astounding aptitude for mathematics. Initially dismissing it as the work of a crank, Hardy soon realised the genius behind the results. With his colleague J.E. Littlewood Hardy concluded that the theorems “must be true, because if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them.”

Born in 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu, Ramanujan was a precocious talent who exhausted the mathematical knowledge of college students by age 11. Despite this genius, poverty forced him to take a clerk’s job in 1912 at the Madras Port Trust. When his notebooks were shared with English mathematicians, most dismissed them but Hardy recognized Ramanujan’s brilliance.

Hardy invited Ramanujan to Cambridge in 1914. Though initially reluctant due to his mother’s objections, Ramanujan eventually sailed to England. At Cambridge, he collaborated fruitfully with Hardy for five years. His work led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918 at just 31 years old, one of the youngest ever.

Ramanujan made pioneering contributions across branches like number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. Perhaps his most outstanding work was on partitions of numbers. His mastery of mathematics was instinctive rather than formal – he derived results using his intuition instead of rigorous proofs.

However, the strain of being away from home, coupled with deprivations from World War I, severely impacted Ramanujan’s health. He contracted tuberculosis and vitamin deficiencies, forcing him to return to India in 1919. He passed away the next year at just 32 years old.

Despite his tragically short life, Ramanujan’s work sparked new lines of research that mathematicians continue exploring over a century later. His raw intuitive brilliance and the sheer volume of his contributions, including some 3,900 theorems, have earned him an immortal reputation as one of history’s greatest mathematical minds. India celebrates his birthday, December 22, as National Mathematics Day to honour this self-taught genius.

Textbook solutions

Complete the following statements

(i) Hardy realised the genius in Ramanujan and his stamp of approval improved Ramanujan’s status immediately

(ii) Professors H.F. Baker and E.W. Hobson had returned Ramanujan’s papers without comment

(iii) After passing the primary examination in 1897, Ramanujan entered Town Higher Secondary School where he learnt formal mathematics for the first time

(iv) After failing the college, Ramanujan left college and pursued his independent research in Mathematics.

(v) Ramanujan feared that he might die and so he handed over his mathematical notebooks to one of his trusted friends

(vi) Ramaswamy Aiyer said that he had no mind to smother Ramanujan’s genius by an appointment in the lowest range of the revenue department

(vii) Ramanujan refused to go to England because his mother did not permit him to go.

Answer the following questions in one sentence

(i) What did Ramanujan’s mother Komalatamal use to do? 

Answer: She used to sing at a local temple. 

(ii) Why had Ramanujan’s mother to look after him most of the time? 

Answer: Ramanujan’s father was busy at work most of the day. 

(iii) Why could Ramanujan not focus on subjects other than mathematics? 

Answer: He was so intent on studying mathematics that he couldn’t focus on other subjects. 

(iv) Why did Ramanujan wait for a long time for his surgery/operation? 

Answer: He did not have the money for the operation. 

(v) Why did the English mathematicians view Ramanujan’s works with hesitation? 

Answer: They viewed his work with hesitation as he lacked the educational qualifications. 

(vi) What did M.J.M. Hill comment about Ramanujan’s papers? 

Answer: He commented that Ramanujan’s papers were riddled with holes. 

(vii) What honour did Ramanujan receive in the year 1918? 

Answer: He became a Fellow of the Royal Society. 

(viii) Why is 22nd December observed as the National Mathematics Day in India? 

Answer: It is observed in honour of Ramanujan.

Answer each of the following questions briefly

(i) What interesting event happened in the history of mathematics in 1913? 

Answer: In 1913, G.H. Hardy, a well-known English mathematician, received a remarkable letter from an unknown clerk in Madras, India, containing 10 pages with about 120 statements of mathematical theorems on infinite series, fractions and numbers, which led to the discovery of Srinivasan Ramanujan’s genius. 

(ii) Why has Ramanujan’s house in Kumbakonam been converted into a museum? 

Answer: Ramanujan’s house in Kumbakonam has been converted into a museum to honour his memory and celebrate his extraordinary contributions to mathematics. 

(iii) What characteristics did Ramanujan inherit from his mother? 

Answer: Ramanujan inherited a close relationship with his mother, from whom he learned to sing religious songs, visit temples, and practice austerities in eating, adhering to Brahmin culture. 

(iv) What incident had led to Ramanujan’s visit to Cambridge? 

Answer: Ramanujan’s visit to Cambridge was prompted by his correspondence with G.H. Hardy, who recognized his mathematical genius and made arrangements for his trip to England for collaboration. 

(v) Why did Ramanujan’s health deteriorate in England? 

Answer: Ramanujan’s health deteriorated in England due to the stress and strain of his work, the scarcity of vegetarian food during the First World War, and possibly his pre-existing health conditions. 

(vi) How have Government of India paid tribute to Ramanujan and his mathematical genius? 

Answer: The Government of India paid tribute to Ramanujan by declaring December 22 as National Mathematics Day on his 125th birth anniversary and observing 2012 as the National Mathematics Year, celebrating it as GANIT (Growing Aptitude in Numerical Innovations and Training). 

Arrange them in their proper chronological order

The following are events that occurred in the life of Ramanujan. But they are not in their chronological order. Arrange them in their proper chronological order as they happened in his life.

(i) was born in 1887
(ii) starts school in 1892
(iii) passes out from Town Higher Secondary School
(iv) marries
(v) passes primary
(vi) hands over his notebooks to trusted friends.
(vii) fails in Fellow of Arts Exam
(viii) Hardy writes a letter inviting him
(ix) gets a job of class III, Grade IV clerk
(x) Nation observes National Mathematics Day
(xi) dies

Answer: (i) Was born in 1887. 
(ii) Starts school in 1892. 
(v) Passes primary. 
(iii) Passes out from Town Higher Secondary School. 
(vii) Fails in Fellow of Arts Exam. 
(iv) Marries. 
(ix) Gets a job of class III, Grade IV clerk. 
(viii) Hardy writes a letter inviting him. 
(vi) Hands over his notebooks to trusted friends. 
(xi) Dies.

Fill in the blanks

Here is a paragraph about Ramanujan. But there are gaps in it. Fill in them with suitable words from the words given in the box.

It is a remarkable fact that hundreds of papers have been inspired by Ramanujan’s talent in his Notebooks and his Collected Papers. Furthermore, Ramanujan’s name has appeared in the titles and abstracts of innumerable research papers and this is continuing unabated at the dawn of the 21st century. It is also significant to note that today there are three journals named after Srinivasa Ramanujan, and these are: The Hardy Ramanujan Journal (Since 1975); the journal of the Ramanujan Mathematical Society (since 1985); and RAMANUJAN JOURNAL (since 1997). This is a tribute befitting the greatest. The following is an assessment of Ramanujan, the mathematician: “Paul Erdos, a renowned Hungarian mathematician, has passed on to us Hardy’s personal ratings of mathematicians: Suppose that we rate mathematicians on the basis of pure talent on a scale from 0 to 100, Hardy gave himself a score of 24, Littlewood 30, Hilbert 80, and Ramanujan 100” (Prof. Berndt, 1985).

(From -Srinivasa Ramanujan
A life in the Jungle of Mathematics.
By Sri N. Rajmohon Singh
Prof. Chemistry Dept.
Manipur University)


You are a member of Mathematics club of your locality. Now write an informal letter to a friend, Mr. Pintu L. inviting him to attend a function of the Mathematics club.

Dear Pintu,

23 March 2024

I hope this letter finds you in great spirits and health. I’m reaching out to share some exciting news and extend a special invitation.

Our local Mathematics Club is gearing up for an engaging function scheduled for April 22, and it would be an absolute delight to have you join us. This event promises to be a wonderful mix of intellectual stimulation, engaging discussions, and, of course, a bit of fun mathematics that we both appreciate. It’s not only a fantastic opportunity to brush up on our mathematical skills but also a great way to meet and interact with fellow mathematics enthusiasts in our community.

The function will feature a variety of activities, including guest lectures from renowned mathematicians, interactive problem-solving sessions, and even a mathematics quiz competition. Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself with complex problems or simply want to enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded individuals, there’s something for everyone.

I truly believe your presence would add great value to the gathering, and it would also be a wonderful chance for us to catch up. Please let me know if you can make it. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing you there and making this event even more memorable.

Sincerely yours,
[Your Name]

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