Associate 2002-03

Bruce C Berndt


Proving the Claims Made by Ramanujan In His Lost Notebook

Srinivasa Ramanujan is generally regarded as the greatest mathematician in the history of India. Born in 1887 and dying in 1920 at the age of 32, Ramanujan went to college for one year and was unable to pass his year-end examinations because he devoted all his time to mathematics. For several years he did mathematics in isolation while recording all of his discoveries, without proofs, in notebooks.

In 1913 he wrote the great English mathematician G.H. Hardy about some of his work. Hardy brought Ramanujan to England, where he became famous but also critically ill. He returned to India in 1919 to live only one more year. In his last year he did perhaps his greatest work; but this was lost for many years until George Andrews, a professor of mathematics at Pennsylvania State University, discovered it in 1976 in the library at Trinity College, Cambridge.

For more than twenty years Professor Berndt has devoted his research efforts toward proving the many results left behind by Ramanujan in notebooks before going to England. For the past several years he has collaborated with Andrews, seeking proofs for the approximately 650 claims made by Ramanujan in his “lost” notebook. This effort will continue during his Center appointment.