by Ishfaq Chopan
If taught in a better way by making it practically relevant to life, mathematics will seem in no way boring and difficult to students.
Every year India celebrates National Mathematics Day on December 22, in memory of one of its finest and legendary mathematicians named Srinivasa Ramanujan. Since 2012, this day is being celebrated to recognise the contribution and acknowledge the work of this genius.
On this day various seminars, workshops, programmes, debates and lectures are held in the universities and other mathematical institutions and schools throughout India 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.
Who Was Ramanujan?
So let’s first know about this great Indian mathematician. Srinivasa Ramanujan was born in 1887 in Erode (Tamil Nadu). When he was nearly five years old, Ramanujan entered primary school in Kumbakonam. At just 12 years of age and despite not having any 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. Ramanujan lived a simple life in Cambridge. In 1917, he was elected as a member of the London Mathematical Society. He also became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1918, the youngest in society’s history to become a member of this society.
Ramanujan returned to India in 1919 due to ill health. In return, his health deteriorated more and he died in 1920 just at 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. Srinivasa Ramanujan 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 clues about his expertise and vision on a pattern of numbers. Ramanujan proposed it is the 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 squares in which the row sum, column sum, diagonal sum, corner sum and a sum of any 2 x 2 square of elements is always 139 and in fact, Ramanujan adjusts his whole date of birth in the first row of the square and yet it holds the desired property.
Why The Mathematics Day?
The common question arises why do we need to celebrate such a day or what do we achieve by celebrating national mathematics day?
The answer is that Mathematics is a subject with larger relevance to our routine life. 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 essential for a very good performance and achievement in many fields.
Mathematics is often called the queen of science. As has been rightly said by famous Indian woman calculator mathematician, Shakuntala Devi: “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. Mathematics enables us to solve problems 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 the lives, contributions and achievements of various famous Indian mathematicians like Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara, Ramanujan, PC Mahalanobis, Shakuntala Devi and many others.
Celebrating mathematics day in schools, colleges and universities can develop interest among students to aspire their studies with mathematics as a subject of their interest. It can eliminate the fear and phobia of mathematics among students as many students face severe math phobia right from their earlier classes affecting their overall educational performance.
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 in 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 find everlasting joy in doing mathematics.
(The author is a postgraduate from the Department of the Mathematics Central University of Kashmir. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)