Mathematician Shakuntala Devi: The Woman Who Calculated the World
Vedic Maths

Mathematician Shakuntala Devi: The Woman Who Calculated the World

Jul 3, 2023

In the captivating world of numbers, where equations come alive and intricate puzzles unravel, stands a remarkable figure whose mathematical skills surpass all others. Shakuntala Devi, the gifted mathematician, enchants and inspires with her extraordinary talent, leaving a lasting impact on countless admirers.

Who was Shakuntala Devi?

Born on November 4, 1929, in Bangalore, India, Shakuntala Devi was an extraordinary mathematician, author, and prodigious mental calculator. From a young age, she displayed an exceptional aptitude for numbers and quickly gained the nickname “Human Computer” for her incredible mental calculation abilities. Devi astounded audiences around the world with her lightning-fast calculations, solving complex mathematical problems within seconds. Her prodigious talent and unique approach to numbers garnered national and international recognition.

Beyond her mental calculations, Mathematician Shakuntala Devi was an accomplished author who wrote books on Mathematics, puzzles, and astrology. Her works aimed to make Maths more accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages. One of her notable books, “Figuring: The Joy of Numbers,” inspired a love for Mathematics in many readers.

Early life – Shakuntala Devi’s history and education

Born into a Brahmin Kannada family, Mathematician Shakuntala Devi resided with her parents in Bangalore until the age of 15 when she relocated to London, United Kingdom. Her father, a versatile performer, engaged in various circus acts, including being a trapeze artist, lion tamer, tightrope walker, and magician.

Devi’s early education was unconventional, as she did not attend a formal school. Instead, her father, recognizing her mathematical prowess, took it upon himself to educate her. He introduced her to a wide range of mathematical concepts and encouraged her to solve complex problems. Devi’s father nurtured her mathematical abilities through various methods, including playing card games and puzzles that involved calculations.

By the time she was six years old, Devi could solve complex mathematical problems mentally. Her father took her on tours across India, where she showcased her remarkable skills to amazed audiences.  Despite her lack of formal education, Shakuntala Devi’s natural talent and early exposure to mathematics propelled her into becoming a mathematical prodigy. Her early life experiences and the guidance of her father laid the foundation for her illustrious career as a mathematician and mental calculator.

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Why is Shakuntala Devi Famous?

Shakuntala Devi’s contributions to mathematics and her ability to bridge the gap between complex calculations and the everyday world made her an iconic figure. She possessed an extraordinary mathematical mastery that has served as a profound source of inspiration for countless students worldwide. From a young age, she gained global recognition for her exceptional arithmetic skills, surpassing the capabilities of computers in terms of speed and accuracy. 

Alongside her Mathematical talents, Devi’s passion for numbers extended to the realm of astrology, where she applied her numerical strengths to delve into astrological knowledge. She astounded many with her accurate predictions. 

Furthermore, Devi showcased her versatility as an author, with a diverse range of works including “Figuring: The Joy of the Numbers,” “More Puzzles to Puzzle You,” “Perfect Murder,” “Caste System in India,” and “Astrology For You,” reflecting her passion for writing.

Awards And Achievements of Shakuntala Devi

Mathematician Shakuntala Devi received several awards and achieved numerous notable milestones throughout her career. Some of her significant awards and achievements include:

  • Distinguished Woman of the Year Award: In 1969, Mathematician Shakuntala Devi won the ‘Distinguished Woman of the Year Award’ from the University of Philippines along with a gold medal.
  • Guinness World Records: Devi earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records multiple times for her exceptional mental calculations. In 1982, she multiplied two randomly picked 13-digit numbers correctly within 28 seconds, a feat that remains unmatched.
  • Ramanujan Mathematical Genius Award: In 1988, Devi received the prestigious Ramanujan Mathematical Genius Award from the Indian National Congress for her contributions to the field of mathematics.
  • Outstanding Contribution to Mathematics Award: Devi was honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Mathematics Award by the Computer Society of India in 1988.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: In 2013, shortly before her passing, Devi was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 London Mathematics Festival for her extraordinary mathematical talents and contributions.
  • Author and Educator: Devi authored numerous books on mathematics, puzzles, and astrology. Her books aimed to popularise mathematics and make it more accessible to a broader audience, especially children.

Interesting facts about Mathematical Prodigy

  • She earned the title “Human Computer” not only for her remarkable mathematical calculations but also for her incredible ability to instantly determine the day of the week for any given date from the previous century.
  • She was able to extract the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in 50 seconds, outperforming a Univac computer that took slightly more than a minute.
  • She fought in the 1980 Lok Sabha elections against Indra Gandhi, but she was defeated and came ninth.
  • Shakuntala Devi debunked numerous delusions about homosexuality, and her book ‘The World of Homosexuals’ was the first study of homosexuality in India. She fought for LGBTQ rights.
  • Shakuntala Devi’s biography was adapted into a film, and the role of Shakuntala Devi was portrayed by Vidya Balan, known for her captivating performances.

When did shakuntala Devi died

Mathematician Shakuntala Devi passed away on April 21, 2013, at the age of 83 due to cardiac and respiratory problems. Her departure marked the end of an era filled with awe-inspiring mathematical feats and a legacy that continues to inspire and captivate individuals around the world.

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Read More Article –

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