Today, its the 142nd birth anniversary of Godfrey Harold Hardy, who is one of the most prominent personality in the world of mathematics. More popularly known as G.H Hardy, Godfrey Harold Hardy was an English mathematician, famous for his contributions to number theory and mathematical analysis.
Hardy was born to mathematically inclined parents, in Surrey, Engla on 7th February 1877. Hardy was a child prodigy.Stories are told about how he would write numbers up to millions at just two years of age, and how he would amuse himself in church by factorizing the hymn numbers. He graduated with honours from the Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1899, where he spend most of the rest of his academic career. He became a fellow at Trinity in 1900, and lectured there in mathematics from 1906 to 1919.
Two of the G.H Hardy’s most important works include mathematical analysis and analytic number theory. He collaborated with John Edensor Littlewood to work on these projects. Together, they proved some results which were of primary importance in number theory. Hardy–Littlewood duo is considered as the most illustrious duo to collaborate in mathematical history. Another notable collaboration of Hardy was with an Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, with whom he created the Hardy–Ramanujan asymptotic formula. Even the number 1729 is known as Hardy Ramanujan number after the duo.
Hardy was Ramanujan’s mentor. One day, he went to visit the young Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who was not well. When Ramanujan heard that Hardy had come in a taxi, he asked him what the number of the taxi was. Hardy said that it was just a boring number: 1729. Ramanujan replied that 1729 was not a boring number at all, it was a very interesting one. He explained that it was the smallest number that could be expressed by the sum of two cubes in two different ways. Though this fact was already known in 1657 by a French mathematician Bernard Frénicle de Bessy,But the number 1729 became famous only after the conversation between this famous duo.
In addition to his research, Hardy is also remembered for his 1940 essay on the aesthetics of mathematics, titled “A Mathematician’s Apology”. Apart from mathematics, Hardy is also well known in the field of biology for the Hardy–Weinberg principle, a basic principle of population genetics. Hardy also took part in the Union of Democratic Control during World War I, and for the Intellectual Liberty in the late 1930s.
G.H Hardy was an important Fellow of the Royal Society. For his mathematical contributions, he received several awards and honours including the Smith’s Prize in 1901, Royal Medal in 1920, Copley Medal in 1947 and many more. Hardy was an extremely shy person throughout his life. He never liked the limelight, and hated receiving prizes for his achievements in front of everyone. He could not bear to look at his own reflection and had only a few close friendships and relationships. He was a lifelong bachelor and was cared by his sister in his final years. G.H Hardy used to quote: “If a man has a genuine talent, he should be ready to make almost any sacrifice in order to cultivate it to the full”.
Happy Birthday Genius!