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The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  8,571 ratings  ·  477 reviews
The tale of a relationship between a young Indian mathematics genius, Ramanujan, and his tutor at Cambridge University, G.H. Hardy, in the years before World War I. Through their eyes the reader is taken on a journey through numbers theory. Ramanujan would regularly telescope 12 steps of logic into two - the effect is said to be like Dr Watson in the train of some argument ...more
Paperback, 438 pages
Published 1992 by Abacus (first published 1991)
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Swrp
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is so well written!

The author has evidently done a lot of intense research. This is how I feel, biographies should be written. When reading the book, it actually felt as if you were with Srinivasa Ramanujan all through his life...

The greatest lesson to be learnt from this life story of Ramanujan is that to encourage and support a person for their skills and talent instead of insisting that they follow the syllabus and curriculum prepared/decided by the State and Educationists from ear
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AMEERA
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
oh my heart this story about ramanujan so painful the genius man , Absolutely I loved this book and happy to know about him and difficult life he lived just to prove something he believes .
Siddhartha
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
2013 December 22nd was the 125th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan. He was a genius whose early death, owing to a multitude of factors not entirely in his control, was a tragedy too profound for tears, as someone said.

That mathematicians are trying to come to terms with his papers and notebooks to this day, is a testimony to his originality. There was a news about his last notebooks on mock modular forms being proven just last month.

This biography by Robert Kanigel is a work of outstandin
...more
Amylee
Jul 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Such as wonderful book. I came to know about Ramanujan through Prasad Kothari's lecture on Ramanujan machine. Such a wonderful mathematician. I am amazed to know that Ramanujan did not have math degree and yet come up with such wonderful math! genius from India. ...more
Siby
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ramanujam is considered one of the best mathematicians of all times, in the same league as a Jacobi or Euler.Even though his work is well known within the mathematical community, outside of it, he is virtually an unknown quantity. Robert Kanigel has put in a lot of effort researching material to write such a comprehensive biography of a genius from a century ago.
Ramanujam was born in a poor Tamil brahmin family and had little access to formal education. He had an unnatural flair for mathematics
...more
Lubinka Dimitrova
One of the best-crafted biographies I've ever read, this book offered not only a deep insight into the story of Ramanujan himself, but also a social biography of colonial India and war time Europe during the early 1900s. Not too heavy on mathematics, it had just enough for the reader to acquire a basic idea of Ramanujan's accomplishments and his contribution to many and various branches of science(note to self: audio books are not well suited for understanding equations). The book is a fertile g ...more
Lovesfrost
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It’s way beyond five stars ! The Book was just BRILLIANT !

I really had an amazing time reading this one and I was reading this at a time when no other book seemed nice [I really tried a lot of books from the Hitchhiker’s guide to Sherlock to Child Thief ….but nothing worked] .

It’s a very ,very well written and thoroughly researched book and I would just like to say that I haven’t read many biographies, but this is exactly how a biography should be done .What Robert Kanigel has done with Ram
...more
Charlene
Exceptional, brilliant, tragic, and mind altering.

I first watched the movie by the same title and felt as if I missed so much. It turned out to be the case. The entire first half of the book was about Ramanujan's life before working with G. H. Hardy. So many shocking details; not the least of which was that fact that no university in India would allow Ramanujan entrance because he continued to fail his English exams. It was heartbreaking to read about his shame, which was so profound, he took a
...more
Ritachan
Jul 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I watched the movie after Prasad Kothari's lecture on ramanujan machine. I really liked that he highlighted contributions of Ramanujan who gave greatest gift to mankind - math through intuition. To be honest, I did not know about Ramanujan who came from India. Such a genius. I think he covered 3 mathematicians - Dr. Yau, Dr Grigori Perelman & Ramanujan while keeping the context of AI. Later in lecture, Prasad also gave example about AI for Math as CNNs for analyzing Calabi Yau further - volume m ...more
Ash
Ramanujan is one of the greatest mathematicians and the most famous mathematician that India has ever produced. I hardly knew anything about him or his contributions to mathematics. I picked this book up with the sole intention of knowing more about this genius. And I am so glad that I did. It was such an inspiring story that I feel every young person must read it.

Ramanujan has been compared with mathematicians like Euler and Jacobi. Ramanujan was a genius, he was -

"... the man whom the English
...more
Ananthu
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account on the short but outstanding life of the enigmatic and extraordinary Ramanujan.

From a young, unschooled Indian clerk to an exemplary mathematician, his journey albeit he died at the mere age of 32, is nevertheless awe-inspiring. Even in his final days, he never left his slate and continued to give prominent contributions. Such was his love for Mathematics. He failed in everything else but scored high in Mathematics. But it just wasn’t enough to clutch him a degree. So he w
...more
Toria
Jun 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very touching and emotional read about a mathematical genius I knew nothing about. And even though there was a lot of math in this book (obviously) and I genuinely hate math, it didn't take away anything from the enjoyment at all. It was a rather large book but never feelt like it draged out or where to long. Highly recommend! ...more
Achyuth Murlei
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, math-phy
It is humanly impossible to pause reading for a while without wiping away a tear or two and feel your heart wrench while reading this book. With lucid writing and a clear description of who Ramanujan was and what he had to go through to become immortalised, Kanigel expertly related the story of a legendary man with an equally legendary mind. It had taken me a longer than usual time period to read this book, but I cherished every minute I spent with it.

A must read Biography.

EDIT
My refutation to @
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Pallavi Kamat
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most fascinating and incredible books I have read in recent times. It is the biography of the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

The book’s blurb states: “The Man Who Knew Infinity is a fascinating biography of the brilliant, self-taught Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan. It is also a history of the astonishingly fruitful cross-cultural collaboration between this young, ill-educated mathematical genius and his mentor at Cambridge University, G. H. Hardy –
...more
Gavin
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maths, biography
One of the best biographies I've ever read. (The subtitle says it is about Ramanujan, but it is equally about Hardy, that perfect British intellect: more crystalline than Russell, more lofty than Moore, more self-critical than Hare, more fun than anyone, loveable atop it all.) Ramanujan's story is of course maximally moving to anyone with a shred of curiosity or pity. The most moving part of all is an absence, one of the darker thoughts among all thoughts:

How many Ramanujans, his life beg
...more
V.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has many issues, and none other than Robert Kanigel is himself guilty.

First and foremost, he has continuously maintained a racist undertone in the text. He digs 20 pages deep into inane topics such as exploring the possibility of Hardy being gay or about Carr's book which influenced Ramanujan in his formative years, but does not bat an eye on the racism faced by Ramanujan in 20th century England or the capitalist colonial British Raj in India which had amputated India's growth in all
...more
Jeanette
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The movie based on the life of Ramanujan sheds some light on to the brilliance of this Indian mathematician, sadly however the producers weren't brave enough to depict him true to his image, rather they glamorised him when in fact Ramanujan was fat, short and had suffered from the effects of smallpox.

The author has endeavoured to make the book readable for all with only occasionally heading off into a mathematical maze and for the most part creates an enjoyable account of these two famous men.
...more
Joe
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a biography of Ramanujan, the Indian genius mathematician.

It's difficult to avoid finding Ramanujan fascinating, even if you have no interest in math. He was born poor in India in 1887, and showed an incredible natural talent for math -- including theoretical as well as arithmetical abilities -- but his poor academic talent in other areas prevented him from moving up in India's educational structure. While working a series of low-level bureaucratic jobs, he continually tried to get
...more
♛ ѶaɱՏ¡  TM
The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan , is a heart wrenching, tragic life story of great Indian Mathematician. If you are an Indian student you must have seen him on many Math academic book cover pages. Had Ramanujan something extraordinary to offer the world? What was the nature and extent of his genius, if genius it was? This book has answered all these questions well enough, only drawback I feel is, its pretty hard to follow the sequence of the events.

He was so seduced b
...more
Usha
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
It takes a significant effort to read this biography but it is so worth it.
Rohan
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: physics-science
As someone who grew up in Southern part of India, I knew about Ramanujam and some his stories since childhood. The Author has definitely done his research and he is right about almost everything that he mentions in this book. I can clearly see that someone who has never heard about this Mathematician before would enjoy this book far more than I did since I vaguely knew his stories. Nevertheless, if you are interested in Maths, you should probably read this book.

Kaśyap
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a very well researched and wonderfully written biography of two great mathematecians S.Ramanujan and G.H.Hardy. The author goes into a lot of details about ramanujan's early life and his struggles in south india and after his "discovery" by hardy, the author goes into the aspects of his life in cambridge.The only disappointment in this book is how little of ramanujan's work in mathematics is present in it.
even though i wish there was more math in it,this is still an excellent book.
...more
Laura
The story of the life and academic career of the pioneer Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and his friendship with his mentor, Professor G.H. Hardy.

A movie was made based on this book with Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair
Josh Friedlander
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, maths, theology
Number theory, and the curious beauty of primes, have a tendency to attract amateur attention. There is even a Crackpot Index (adapted from John Baez's original). "10 points for stating that your ideas are of great financial, theoretical and/or spiritual value. 20 points for each of the following conjectures that you purport to have solved: Goldbach's conjecture; twin prime conjecture; Riemann Hypothesis, Fermat's Last Theorem; primes of the form n²+1..." In G.H. Hardy's day such cranks existed ...more
Philipp
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wonderful biography of Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the most "romantic" figures of the history of mathematics and science - born relatively poor, no contact with universities, shut out due to an extremely rigid system, no training in mathematics, a pure autodidact who somehow managed to come up with novel and outstanding results but was seen as a bit of a crank, then was invited to the UK by Hardy to finally come in contact with the greats of mathematics, finally got recognition, published a slew ...more
Jayesh Shah
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book describes the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan. He was an Indian mathematician of early 20th century.
The book is written beautifully. The author gives all the relevant information like local customs, religion, geography, and family dynamics at appropriate places while describing the life of Mr. Ramanujan. The friendship between two great mathematicians, G. H. Hardy and S. Ramanujan is narrated in great details and makes a very important part of this book. Those two men were as different as
...more
Darshan Nandanwar
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
First of all kudos to ROBERT KANIGEL to come up with such fascinating facts about one of the indigenous prodigy "Ramanujan" with such ease and effortless storytelling which is rare to be seen without using much mathematical jargons that would make this book certainly *romantic affair* for the readers ! The way all threads are connected with such sumptuous details in chronological events-order ,perhaps it keeps your intrigue alive through-out ! The way Hardy's idiosyncrasies and peculiar thinking ...more
Rushil
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book gives you a fascinating insight into Srinivasan Ramanujan's life. Interested in mathematics from early on, Ramanujan overcame all barriers, including a complete lack of formal mathematical training, to become one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century. The book explores Ramanujan's mind, which worked very differently from an average 'great' mathematician. Focused on intuitive reasoning rather than rigorous proof, Ramanujan was often disregarded, only to be discovered later B ...more
Deb
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I'm torn between rating this two or three stars, but decided to round up to three.

The difficulty here was figuring out whether the writing or the story was more important, and in the end I went with story. However, here are some problems I had with the book:

1. Flowery descriptions that were in some places completely ridiculous and in some others just wrong

2. Lots of irrelevant detail (I don't care about the author of the book that was read by Ramanujan, or the boat he traveled to England in)

3. A
...more
Amit Mishra
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an inspiring book that discovers the life of a genius Ramanujan. A great mathematician from India who solved many mysterious of number theories. It's like a journey through that age. A great amount of information is available in the book to let us discover this genius. ...more
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Robert Kanigel was born in Brooklyn, but for most of his adult life has lived in Baltimore. He has written nine books.

"The Man Who Knew Infinity," his second book, was named a National Book Critics Circle finalist, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and a New York Public Library "Book to Remember." It has been translated into Italian, German, Polish, Greek, Chinese, Thai, and many other lang
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