Person: Aiyar, V. Ramaswami
Ramaswami Aiyar was an enthusiastic amateur mathematician who worked as a civil servant in India. He was a founder of the Indian Mathematical Society.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- We, however, will refer to him as Ramaswami throughout this biography.
- He was often found pouring over his books, while his companions were engaged in play and amusing themselves.
- The Editor of the Educational Times addressed him as "Professor Ramaswami", judging from his contributions that he should be a College Professor.
- This title of 'Professor' stuck to him ever afterwards.
- In 1893 Ramaswami was awarded a Master's Degree and in August 1894 he sat the Mysore Civil Service Examination along with his friend C Hanumantha Rao, also a graduate of Presidency College, Madras.
- Bhabha explained to Ramaswami that Venkataswami Nayudu, the Professor of Mathematics at Central College, Bangalore, had taken ill and asked Ramaswami to take over Nayudu's responsibilities while he was on sick leave.
- Now Mandyam Tondanur Naraniengar (1871-1940) was one of Ramaswami's mathematics colleagues at Central College, Bangalore.
- Naraniengar was interested in geometry and he would later publish many papers, the first three in 1908 being The intrinsic properties of curves, in the Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, and Notes on spherical coordinate geometry, and The nine-point circle, both by the Indian Mathematical Society.
- We were both deeply interested in Mathematics and in a modest way Geometry was our forte and curves our fancy; we discussed nothing but mathematics.
- Ramaswami was appointed to Maharaja's College, Mysore, as a Lecturer in Mathematics when mathematics classes leading to a B.A. started there in 1895.
- Weir had been awarded an M.A. by the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1882 and, after being an assistant to William Jack at the University of Glasgow (1887-1890), had moved to India.
- Weir suggested that Ramaswami should become a member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and arranged for his name to be proposed.
- Ramaswami became a member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in December 1895.
- His time at Maharaja's College was, however, short, since he sat the Madras Civil Service Examination in 1895 and this time was successful.
- He remained in that post for the rest of his career, gaining various promotions along the way.
- After he retired in 1930 he moved to Chittoor, India.
- This absent mindedness, or abstraction, was a habit with him even in his domestic life.
- When at dinner in the company of friends and relatives, he was often discovered lost in thought; he would abruptly get up without finishing his dinner, and would go to the table to note down a solution of a problem which had been engaging his attention all the time.
- Ramaswami published his first mathematics paper in 1897, namely A general theorem on the nine-points circle, which was published in the Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society.
- These were Ramaswami only mathematical publication until 1906 when he began publishing a number of articles.
- For example: Note on the Power Inequality (1906); Note on a point in the demonstration of the Binomial Theorem (1906); On the exponential inequalities and the exponential function (1907); On the arithmetic and geometric means inequality (1907); The A, B, C of the higher analysis (1907); Note on the circumscribable quadrilateral (1908); On Stolz and Gmeiner's Proof of the Sine and Cosine Series (1908); Some centroid problems (1909); On the trisection of an angle by means of a parabola (1909); Trigonometric inequalities (1910); On Steiner's tricusp (1911); Normals to an ellipse from any given point (1911); Some metrical relations connected with a pair of isogonal conjugates (1911); and The orthopolar theory (1912).
- After this 1912 paper there is a gap of over ten years before he published again, this being Miquel Theorems in 1923.
- Ramaswami is particularly famous for two important things in his mathematical career, namely founding the Indian Mathematical Society and the 'discovery' of Ramanujan.
- But men also saw that, before India could become great, we needed advancement in many different directions.
- Our great countryman, Sir J N Tata, had these problems in mind and laid the foundation of a considerable industrial and intellectual advancement.
- But his great scheme of a Central Research Institute for India made no provision for mathematical advancement.
- The list was very encouraging.
- This made me more eager than ever to try to form a Mathematical Society.
- The letter was simply conceived and had no ambitious programme.
- A very good choice was made for the headquarters of the new Society, namely Fergusson College, Poona near Bombay.
- Ramaswami served as President of the Indian Mathematical Society in 1926-30.
- Ramanujan's only recommendation was his 'Ponderous' Note-book, which has now become famous and is preserved in the Madras University Library.
- It was little known at that time that the notebook contained anything of value.
- The story is well-known how eventually Ramanujan was made a Research Student of the Madras University, was deputed to the Cambridge University and achieved distinction as the Greatest Indian Mathematician.
- those remarkable notebooks in which he had recorded the numerous results of his discoveries.
- There was little or no explanation given but the results were of a very striking character.
- His last trip to Delhi, in spite of the advice of friends to the contrary, in connection with the Conference held there, proved too tiring for him perhaps.
Born 1871, Satyamangalam, Coimbatore district, India. Died 22 January 1936, Chittoor, India.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive