The Man Who Knew Infinity: Movie Preview

Colonial India, 1913. Srinavasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) is a 25-year-old shipping clerk and self-taught genius, who failed out of college due to his near-obsessive, solitary study of mathematics. Determined to pursue his passion despite rejection and derision from his peers, Ramanujan writes a letter to G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), an eminent British mathematics professor at Trinity College, Cambridge. Hardy recognizes the originality

and brilliance of Ramanujan’s raw talent and despite the skepticism of his colleagues, undertakes bringing him to Cambridge so that his theories can be explored.

Ramanujan leaves his family, his community, and his beloved young bride, Janaki (Devika Bhisé), to travel across the world to England. There, he finds understanding and a deep connection with his sophisticated and eccentric mentor.

Under Hardy’s guidance, Ramanujan’s work evolves in ways that will revolutionize mathematics and transform how scientists explain the world. Hardy fights tirelessly to get Ramanujan the recognition and respect that he deserves but in reality he is as much an outcast in the traditional culture of Cambridge as he was among his peers in India. But Ramanujan fights illness and intense homesickness to formally prove his theorems so that his work will finally be seen and believed by a mathematical establishment that is not prepared for his unconventional methods.

The Man Who Knew Infinity is the improbable true story of a unique genius whose pivotal theories propelled him from obscurity into a world in the midst of war, and how he fought tirelessly to show the world the genius of
his mind.

Srinivasa Ramanujan FRS (22 December 1887 – 26 April 1920) was an Indian mathematician and autodidact who, with almost no formal training in pure mathematics, made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. Living in India with no access to the larger mathematical community, which was centered in Europe at the time, Ramanujan developed his own mathematical research in isolation. As a result, he rediscovered known theorems in addition to producing new work. Ramanujan was said to be a natural genius by the English mathematician G. H. Hardy, in the same league as mathematicians such as Euler and Gauss.

Ramanujan was born at Erode, Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu) in a Tamil Brahmin family of Thenkalai Iyengar sect. His introduction to formal mathematics began at age 10. He demonstrated a natural ability, and was given books on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney that he mastered by the age of 12; he even discovered theorems of his own, and re-discovered Euler’s identity independently. He demonstrated unusual mathematical skills at school, winning accolades and awards. By 17, Ramanujan had conducted his own mathematical research on Bernoulli numbers and the Euler–Mascheroni constant.

Ramanujan received a scholarship to study at Government College in Kumbakonam, which was later rescinded when he failed his nonmathematical coursework. He joined another college to pursue independent mathematical research, working as a clerk in the Accountant-General’s office at the Madras Port Trust Office to support himself. In 1912–1913, he sent samples of his theorems to three academics at the University of Cambridge. G. H. Hardy, recognizing the brilliance of his work, invited Ramanujan to visit and work with him at Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Ramanujan died of illness, malnutrition, and possibly liver infection in 1920 at the age of 32.

During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3900 results (mostly identities and equations). Nearly all his claims have now been proven correct, although a small number of these results were actually false and some were already known. Amazingly, Ramanujan’s notes (almost 100 pages) from his last year of life made their way to England. They were almost incinerated in the 1960s, but were saved by Robert Rankin. Rankin saw to it that the notes were added to the Ramanujan archives at the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge, where they laid forgotten until George Andrews discovered them in 1976. This “lost notebook,” as it is referred, includes some of Ramanujan’s most important works and constitutes the work that physicists and mathematicians are studying today in their work on string theory, black holes, and quantum gravity

Godfrey Harold (“G. H.”) Hardy (7 February 1877 – 1 December 1947) was an English mathematician, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis. He is usually known by those outside the field of mathematics for his essay from 1940 on the aesthetics of mathematics, A Mathematician’s Apology, which is often considered one of the best insights into the mind of a working mathematician written for the layman.

Starting in 1914, he was the mentor of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, a relationship that has become celebrated. Hardy almost immediately recognized Ramanujan’s extraordinary albeit untutored brilliance, and Hardy and Ramanujan became close collaborators. In an interview by Paul Erdős, when Hardy was asked what his greatest contribution to mathematics was, Hardy unhesitatingly replied that it was the discovery of Ramanujan. He called their collaboration “the one romantic incident in my life.”

Hardy was born in Cranleigh, Surrey, England, into a teaching family. His father was Bursar and Art Master at Cranleigh School and his mother had been a senior mistress at Lincoln Training College for teachers; both parents were mathematically inclined.

Hardy’s own natural affinity for mathematics was perceptible at an early age. When just two years old, he wrote numbers up to millions, and when taken to church he amused himself by factorizing the numbers of the hymns.

After schooling at Cranleigh, Hardy was awarded a scholarship to Winchester College for his mathematical work. In 1896 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. After only two years of preparation under his coach,Robert Alfred Herman, Hardy was fourth in the Mathematics Tripos examination.

In 1900, he passed part II of the Tripos and was awarded a fellowship. In 1903 he earned his M.A., which was the highest academic degree at English universities at that time. From 1906 onward he held the position of a lecturer where teaching six hours per week left him time for research.

In 1919, he left Cambridge to take the Savilian Chair of Geometry at Oxford in the aftermath of the Bertrand Russell affair during World War I. Hardy is credited with reforming British mathematics by bringing rigor into it, which was previously a characteristic of French, Swiss and German

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