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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Srinivasa Ramanujan Quotes

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Srinivasa Ramanujan
(22 Dec 1887 - 26 Apr 1920)

Indian mathematician who displayed a natural ability in mathematics at an early age. His talent was recognized by G. N. Hardy, who arranged for him to be a student at Cambridge University. In the following few years, before an early death at age 32, Ramanujan produced an exceptional output in mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and continued fractions.


Science Quotes by Srinivasa Ramanujan (2 quotes)

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Srinivasa Ramanujan
From passport photo (1919)
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Replying to G. H. Hardy's suggestion that the number of a taxi (1729) was “dull”: No, it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as a sum of two cubes in two different ways, the two ways being 13 + 123 and 93 + 103.
— Srinivasa Ramanujan
Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society (26 May 1921).
Science quotes on:  |  Cube (9)  |  Different (15)  |  Dull (12)  |  G. H. Hardy (41)  |  Interesting (20)  |  Number (90)  |  Suggestion (13)  |  Sum (18)  |  Way (31)

An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God.
— Srinivasa Ramanujan
Quoted in Clifford A. Pickover, A Passion for Mathematics (2005), 1; but with no footnote to primary source.
Science quotes on:  |  Equation (46)  |  Express (8)  |  God (234)  |  Meaning (52)  |  Nothing (89)  |  Thought (170)



Quotes by others about Srinivasa Ramanujan (8)

I remember once going to see him when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. “No,” he replied, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”
Quoted in G.H. Hardy, Ramanujan; Twelve Lectures on Subjects Suggested by his Life and Work (1940, reprint 1999), 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Cube (9)  |  Number (90)

No mathematician should ever allow him to forget that mathematics, more than any other art or science, is a young man's game. … Galois died at twenty-one, Abel at twenty-seven, Ramanujan at thirty-three, Riemann at forty. There have been men who have done great work later; … [but] I do not know of a single instance of a major mathematical advance initiated by a man past fifty. … A mathematician may still be competent enough at sixty, but it is useless to expect him to have original ideas.
In A Mathematician's Apology (1941, reprint with Foreward by C.P. Snow 1992), 70-71.
Science quotes on:  |  Niels Henrik Abel (9)  |  Age (60)  |  Ιvariste Galois (3)  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Youth (32)

Plenty of mathematicians, Hardy knew, could follow a step-by-step discursus unflaggingly—yet counted for nothing beside Ramanujan. Years later, he would contrive an informal scale of natural mathematical ability on which he assigned himself a 25 and Littlewood a 30. To David Hilbert, the most eminent mathematician of the day, he assigned an 80. To Ramanujan he gave 100.
In The Man who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan (1975), 226.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (37)  |  Assignment (6)  |  Discourse (7)  |  Eminence (8)  |  G. H. Hardy (41)  |  David Hilbert (12)  |  John Edensor (J. E.) Littlewood (5)  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Natural (48)  |  Scale (21)

Srinivasa Ramanujan was the strangest man in all of mathematics, probably in the entire history of science. He has been compared to a bursting supernova, illuminating the darkest, most profound corners of mathematics, before being tragically struck down by tuberculosis at the age of 33... Working in total isolation from the main currents of his field, he was able to rederive 100 years’ worth of Western mathematics on his own. The tragedy of his life is that much of his work was wasted rediscovering known mathematics.
In Hyperspace:A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension (1994), 172.
Science quotes on:  |  Bursting (2)  |  Comparison (33)  |  Corner (13)  |  Dark (12)  |  Derivation (8)  |  History Of Science (34)  |  Illuminating (2)  |  Isolation (16)  |  Known (5)  |  Life (460)  |  Man (258)  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Profound (23)  |  Strangest (2)  |  Supernova (6)  |  Tragedy (9)  |  Tuberculosis (8)  |  Waste (31)  |  Western (5)  |  Working (11)

The seeds from Ramanujan's garden have been blowing on the wind and have been sprouting all over the landscape.
[On the stimulating effects of Ramanujan's mathematical legacy.]
From lecture, the Ramanujan Centenary Conference, University of Illinois (2 Jun 1987), 'A Walk in Ramanujan's Garden', collected in Selected Papers of Freeman Dyson (1996), 198.
Science quotes on:  |  Blowing (2)  |  Garden (10)  |  Landscape (14)  |  Seed (19)  |  Wind (28)

In the simplest array of digits [Ramanujan] detected wonderful properties: congruences, symmetries and relationships which had escaped the notice of even the outstandingly gifted theoreticians.
In The World of Mathematics (1956), 367.
Science quotes on:  |  Array (3)  |  Detection (6)  |  Escape (14)  |  Gifted (3)  |  Notice (11)  |  Outstanding (3)  |  Property (46)  |  Relationship (37)  |  Simplicity (92)  |  Symmetry (14)  |  Theoretician (5)  |  Wonder (64)

There is great exhilaration in breaking one of these things. … Ramanujan gives no hints, no proof of his formulas, so everything you do you feel is your own.[About verifying Ramanujan's equations in a newly found manuscript.]
Quoted in John Noble Wilford, 'Mathematician's Final Equations Praised', New York Times (9 Jun 1981), C1.
Science quotes on:  |  Break (18)  |  Exhilaration (2)  |  Feeling (47)  |  Formula (29)  |  Great (62)  |  Proof (136)

The manuscript looks chaotic, even by mathematics standards.
[About newly-found late work of Srinivasa Ramanujan.]
Quoted in John Noble Wilford, 'Mathematician's Final Equations Praised', New York Times (9 Jun 1981), C1.
Science quotes on:  |  Chaos (33)  |  Manuscript (4)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Standard (15)


See also:

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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