March 13, 2013

The Genius of Ramanujan and Paul Erdős

Mathematicians are strange creatures. Here's a story about Paul Erdős.

In addition, as many of Erdős's collaborations were handled via mail, and because he
dealt with so many people he would sometimes forget what they actually looked like. On
one occasion, Erdős met a mathematician and asked him where he was from.
"Vancouver," the mathematician replied. "Oh, then you must know my good friend Elliot
Mendelson", Erdős said. The reply was "I AM your good friend Elliot Mendelson."

Paul Erdős's first paper was a new proof of Bertrand's conjecture which states that there is always a prime number between any number and twice that number.

Erdős is the most prolific mathematician in history with author credits for 1521 academic papers. He was a prolific collaborator as well and collaborated with 509 authors.

Here's Paul Erdős talking about child prodigies.

Both Erdos and Ramanujan appear to have interacted with G. H. Hardy.

Of course, Hardy 'discovered' Ramanujan and considered it the one 'great romance' of his life.

Among his many contributions to number theory, Ramanujan's various formulas related to the value of pi are quite remarkable. These formulas continue to be used today as the value of pi continues to be calculated to trillions of decimal places.

Whereas you or I might be happy to know the value of pi to, say, four decimal places, mathematicians like to go berserk and since the advent of computers from round about the middle of the 20th century, there has been an esoteric race going on in this sphere.

In the 21st century, with the aid of capable supercomputers, the value of pi has been determined to more than 10 trillion decimal places.

Here's the chronology of computation of pi.

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