Recording the history of Nellore


Mathematician Ramanujan meets Nellore district collector

The great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan visited Nellore, to meet the then Nellore district collector R. Ramachandra Rao (from 1910-1914), with letters of introduction from some senior mathematicians in Madras. Mr R. Ramachandra Rao was the secretary of the Indian Mathematical Society.

Ramachandra Rao was impressed by Ramanujan’s research but doubted that it was actually his own work. Ramanujan’s friend, C. V. Rajagopalachari, persisted with Ramachandra Rao and tried to quell any doubts over Ramanujan’s academic integrity. Rao agreed to give him another chance, and he listened as Ramanujan discussed elliptic integrals, hypergeometric series, and his theory of divergent series, which Rao said ultimately “converted” him to a belief in Ramanujan’s mathematical brilliance.

When Rao asked him what he wanted, Ramanujan replied that he needed some work and financial support. Rao consented and sent him to Madras. Rao got him a clerk’s job at Madras Port Trust. Ramanujan continued his mathematical research with Rao’s help taking care of his daily needs and went on to publish his work in the Journal of Indian Mathematical Society.


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