Lecture at VCU to focus on late-19th-century Indian math savant Ramanujan, ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’

March 10, 2021

Author: Brian McNeill

The lecture, “Why Does Ramanujan, ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity,’ Matter?,” will be held at 6 p.m. on April 9 in Room 1107 of the Academic Learning Commons, 1000 Floyd Ave.

Ken Ono
Ken Ono, Ph.D.

Ken Ono, Ph.D., the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia, will give a public lecture at Virginia Commonwealth University about Srinivasa Ramanujan, a math prodigy from south India who was born into poverty, lived between 1887 and 1920, and whose three notebooks of formulas continues to be mined by engineers, physicists and mathematicians today.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

Ono will discuss why Ramanujan continues to matter and will share clips from the 2015 film, “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons. Ono served as an associate producer and mathematical consultant for the film.

Ramanujan is considered one of the most inspirational figures in the history of mathematics. A two-time college dropout, he received little formal training but produced lasting contributions to combinatorics, number theory and special functions.

Ono is the author of “My Search for Ramanujan: How I Learned to Count,” a memoir and biography about Ramanujan and how Ono found inspiration for his own life and mathematical breakthroughs in Ramanujan’s story.

Ono also leads The Spirit of Ramanujan Talent Initiative, which honors Ramanujan’s legacy by supporting emerging engineers, mathematicians and scientists who lack traditional institutional support through financial grants and mentorship opportunities.

Ono, an expert in number theory, is vice president of the American Mathematical Society. His contributions include several monographs and more than 180 research and popular articles on number theory, combinatorics and algebra.

He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA and has received many awards for his research in number theory, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Research Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering by Bill Clinton in 2000 and was named a Distinguished Teaching Scholar by the National Science Foundation in 2005. He is a member of the U.S. National Committee for Mathematics and the National Academy of Sciences.