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Person: Ramanujam, Chidambaram Padmanabhan
C P Ramanujam was an Indian mathematician who worked in number theory and algebraic geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- C P Ramanujam was educated in Madras, first at Ewart's School, where he had his primary and the first part of his secondary education, and then at the Sir M Ct Muthiah Chetty High School at Vepery, Madras.
- Ramanujam's achievements at High School had been outstanding and he had shown that he was extraordinarily gifted, so he entered Loyola College with great expectations.
- On the other hand it may have resulted from a lack of belief in himself which haunted Ramanujam throughout his life.
- He had been taught mathematics by Father C Racine in his final honours years at Loyola College and he encouraged Ramanujam to apply for entry to the School of Mathematics at the Tata Institute in Bombay.
- In 1957 Ramanujam learnt deep results in analytic number theory from the former director of this Institute (who had retired three years earlier) in the months before he left Madras for Bombay to begin his studies at the Tata Institute.
- At the Institute, Ramanujam quickly became an expert in many different mathematical areas.
- His wide expertise made him a natural person to write up lecture notes from courses given by visitors to the Institute and in 1958-59 Max Deuring gave a course on the theory of algebraic functions of one variable which was expertly written up by Ramanujam.
- Ramanujam felt that he did not have what it takes to solve the big problems of mathematics, and he had no wish to solve small routine problems.
- Again, as in his undergraduate course, it would appear to be a psychological problem rather than a mathematical one but for Ramanujam it was a very real problem and he became more and more frustrated.
- His applications failed so reluctantly Ramanujam remained at the Tata Institute.
- He directed Ramanujam to work on some generalisations of the Waring problem to algebraic number fields.
- On this topic Ramanujam produced some outstanding results, generalising methods due to Davenport to attack certain questions which had been posed by Carl Siegel.
- Up to 1964 Ramanujam's lack of belief in his own abilities could have been described as part of his personality, but in 1964 he was struck with an illness which was diagnosed as severe depression and schizophrenia.
- Ramanujam took notes at the lectures for publication and, as he had done previously he showed his deep understanding of mathematics in doing this task.
- In July 1965 Ramanujam was offered a Professorship at the Punjab University in Chandigarh.
- Back in the Tata Institute, Ramanujam received an invitation to spend six months at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifique in Paris.
- In 1967-68 David Mumford visited the Tata Institute and again Ramanujam wrote up his lectures for publication.
- these lectures were subsequently written up, and improved in many ways, by C P Ramanujam.
- C P Ramanujam continuing my lectures at the Tata Institute lectured on and wrote up notes on Tate's theorem on homomorphisms between abelian varieties over finite fields.
- Severe depression struck Ramanujam frequently.
- Back in India after his year at the University of Warwick, Ramanujam asked for a Professorship at the Tata Institute but be based in Bangalore where a new branch dealing with applications of mathematics was being set up.
Born 9 January 1938, Madras, (now Chennai) India. Died 27 October 1974, Bangalore, India.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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