Ramanujan film, the man who knew infinity

ramanujan.jpghi all. ramanujan is one of the great/ inspiring/ legendary characters out of the pantheon of math heroes and they just released a major hollywood movie on his life starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons. its been a few great years lately for geeks of all stripes such as with the facebook movie, google movie, and the Turing movie (just a few that immediately come to mind). am really enjoying this moment in the spotlight or sun. if you are curious about such things, the etymology of geek vs nerd and the relation of “semantic drift” is now documented on dictionary.com, but the short story is that what was once a stigma is now an accolade/ badge of honor.[b15] and lets face it, mathematicians are long close to the stereotypical ultimate geeks. which reminds me of old joke:

Q. how can you tell if a mathematician is extroverted?

A. he looks at your feet while talking to you.

the movie is based on a book by Kanigel now about ~¼ century old (1992).[b14] bought the book as soon as it was available but never did read it! am delighted that the public has rediscovered this great intellectual hero/ prodigy, and some aspects of his story are being played up in the modern age such as the “diversity” angle. we also have a huge mix of indian culture into the US, and indians seem to be overrepresented in the technology field, although have not seen many mention this. india is also a world powerhouse in software outsourcing, although maybe that wave while still moving/ in motion is not as strong after over a decade of very intense rampup. cities such as Bangalore and Hyderabad are miniature foreign Silicon Valleys although ofc the latter is distinctly singular worldwide.

another great ref on Ramanujan is some essays in the amazing book World of Mathematics, 1956.[b13] think may have heard 1st of ramanujan from this book found while browsing the math section of different libraries.

have been collecting links on Ramanujan for years and finally have enough to pile into this blog. had an intuition/ feeling that the moment might show up at some point. am so pleased/ happy to have it finally arrive.

theres another Bollywood movie that few have heard of, something to check out for the curious/ fascinated.[a10]

esp dear to my heart, a recent connection found with fractals, and think that fractals will continue to play a big role in 21st century mathematics.[b8]

one extraordinary aspect of Ramanujans work is the continuing mystery of it. there still seems to be significant unexplored portions, and there was a dramatic “lost notebook” full of amazing findings. it is still largely unclear even to experts how Ramanujan was able to come up with major swathes of his ideas/ formulas. it took many decades to figure out some of his formulas, they have connections to some of the deepest parts of 20th and 21st century mathematics, and some still remain. in some ways he was even more of a psychic prognosticator than a mathematician. ramanujan pulled off many stunning, shocking feats that are unlikely to be ever repeated in the history of math.

living legend wolfram argues: “Ramanujan was in some fundamental sense an experimental mathematician.”[b16] (which now reminds me, need to add wolfram to my page on experimental CS, what a horrible/ gaping oversight…)

so there is much excellent writing on the internet to read/ consider, and much else offline, and do highly recommend/ encourage you to delve into some of it. have not seen the movie yet but am thinking maybe this next weekend if lucky. has anyone else? what did you think?

addendum: re math culture and clashes thereof, current event ripped from the headlines in stark contrast to the movie, just had to share.


a. movie
b. ramanujan

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