Shakuntala Devi is a mathematical genius renowned as a “human computer “. She was born on 4th November 1929 AD, in Bangalore. She is reputed for solving complex mathematical problems effortlessly. She became an international marvel with her capability to solve any mathematical calculation from simple to complex in an exceptionally simple method. She has answers for every complicated problem in mathematics.
Even though she never received a proper primary education, she was a bright girl from the very first. She was a famous Indian writer too. She had penned down books for Children too. She also published her works on mathematics, puzzles and even astrology.
Shakuntala Devi was born to a Brahmin Kannadiga family in Karnataka. Her family always struggled to meet the ends, hence she never received any formal education. Her father was a magician who performed on various road shows. Even with the meagre amount he earned, he tried his very best to get Shakuntala Devi the basic educational needs. As she was brilliant enough from a very young age, Shakuntala Devi always accompanied her dad to various road shows where she showcased her mathematical brilliance.
Shakuntala Devi – the Birth of A Genius
In her early childhood when she was hardly three years old, she started to play cards with her father. In these games, her father noticed that she always won. Initially, he suspected it was cheating, but later, to his surprise, he noticed that Shakuntala Devi was memorizing the card numbers and their position in the beginning and then playing to win. As he observed her brilliance, he started to take her along with him for tours where he illustrated her talent. In a way, she contributed to making a good earning to her father’s income.
Shakuntala Devi’s talent was known to the world, and she was getting attention at a younger age. At the age of six, she portrayed her skills at the University of Mysore. Later, she performed her mathematical skills in various universities like the Annamalai University, Osmania University, Hyderabad, and Vishakhapatnam.
Shakuntala Devi was married to Paritosh Banerji in mid-1960’s. Paritosh Banerji was an officer serving in the India Administrative Force. Later, in 1979, the couple was divorced. She passed away on 21st April 2013 because of respiratory illness. She is survived by her daughter Anupama Banerji.
Later Years of Shakuntala Devi
As she gained popularity, Shakuntala Devi was acclaimed as a Mathematician. She later moved to London with her father in the year 1944. She travelled all around the world, exhibiting her impeccable talent. She travelled to Mauritius, Hong Kong, the United States, Italy, Japan, Sri Lanka and many more.
Leslie Mitchel, host on BBC channel, once invited her to perform her skill live in 1955. On BBC, Leslie gave her a complex problem to solve. Shakuntala Devi provided the solution to the problem, yet Leslie claimed that the answer was incorrect until later, he realized that the original answer was wrong. That was when Shakuntala Devi esteemed the title of “Human Computer”.
Shakuntala Devi was invited to various educational institutions at Southern Methodist University, Dallas. She was once asked to find the solution of the 23rd root of a 201-digit number. She obtained the result in 50 seconds, whereas a Univac computer took over a minute to solve it.
Shakuntala Devi even wrote books on mathematics for children. She was also popular as an astrologer with her strong mathematical knowledge. One of her acclaimed works was The World of Homosexuals which was published in the year 1977. It became the first inclusive study on homosexuality in India.
Even when she became successful and rich, she managed to channelize her earnings and wealth in the right direction. She set up Shakuntala Devi Education Foundation Public Trust to guarantee that children who are living in an underprivileged family get a better education. She stood as an epitome of the success of Indians in the field of Mathematics.
Awards and Recognitions
Being a mathematical genius, she was celebrated for her exceptional mathematical skills to devise answers quickly. She was honoured with the Guinness Book of Records on 18th June 1980 when she solved a multiplication problem of two randomly selected 13-digit numbers. She arrived at the result in just 28 seconds.
- 1969 – Titles “Most Distinguished woman of the year” by the University of Philippines
- 1988- Ramanujan Mathematical Genius Award in Washington DC.
- Google Doodle honoured her on Google Doodle on her 84th Birthday.
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