Bruce C. Berndt, Ph.D.
(Associate Editor, The Ramanujan Journal)
9.5 – The Visionaries (6.10.16)
Bruce Carl Berndt (born March 13, 1939, in St. Joseph, Michigan) is an American mathematician. Berndt attended college at Albion College, graduating in 1961, where he also ran track. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He lectured for a year at the University of Glasgow and then, in 1967, was appointed an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he has remained since. In 1973–74 he was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is currently (as of 2006) Michio Suzuki Distinguished Research Professor of Mathematics at the University of Illinois.
Berndt is an analytic number theorist who is probably best known for his work explicating the discoveries of Srinivasa Ramanujan. He is a coordinating editor of The Ramanujan Journal and, in 1996, received an expository Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society for his work editing Ramanujan’s Notebooks. A Lester R. Ford Award was given to Berndt, with Gerd Almkvist, in 1989 and to Berndt, with S. Bhargava, in 1994.
In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In December 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from SASTRA University in Kumbakonam, India. 
The letters that Ramanujan wrote to G. H. Hardy on January 16 and February 27, 1913, are two of the most famous letters in the history of mathematics. These and other letters introduced Ramanujan and his remarkable theorems to the world and stimulated much research, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. This book brings together many letters to, from, and about Ramanujan. The letters came from the National Archives in Delhi, the Archives in the State of Tamil Nadu, and a variety of other sources.Helping to orient the reader is the extensive commentary, both mathematical and cultural, by Berndt and Rankin; in particular, they discuss in detail the history, up to the present day, of each mathematical results in the letters. Containing many letters that have never been published before, this book will appeal to those interested in Ramanujan’s mathematics as well as those wanting to learn more about the personal side of his life. “Ramanjuan: Letters and Commentary” was selected for the “Choice” list of Outstanding Academic Books for 1996.
This book contains essays on Ramanujan and his work , as well as important survey articles in areas influenced by Ramanujan’s mathematics. Most of the articles in the book are nontechnical, but even those that are more technical contain substantial sections that will engage the general reader.
The book opens with the only four existing photographs of Ramanujan, presenting historical accounts and information about other people in the photos. This section includes an account of a cryptic family history written by his younger brother, S. Lakshmi Narasimhan. Following are articles on Ramanujan’s illness by R. A. Rankin, the British physician D. A. B. Young, and Nobel laureate S. Chandrasekhar. They present a study of his symptoms, a convincing diagnosis of the cause of his death, and a thorough exposition of Ramanujan’s life as a patient in English sanitariums and nursing homes.
Following this are biographies of S. Janaki (Mrs. Ramanujan) and S. Narayana Iyer, Chief Accountant of the Madras Port Trust Office, who first communicated Ramanujan’s work to the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. The last half of the book begins with a section on “Ramanujan’s Manuscripts and Notebooks”. Included is an important article by G. E. Andrews on Ramanujan’s lost notebook.
The final two sections feature both nontechnical articles, such as Jonathan and Peter Borwein’s “Ramanujan and pi”, and more technical articles by Freeman Dyson, Atle Selberg, Richard Askey, and G. N. Watson.
This volume complements the book Ramanujan: Letters and Commentary, Volume 9, in the AMS series, History of Mathematics. For more on Ramanujan, see these AMS publications, Ramanujan: Twelve Lectures on Subjects Suggested by His Life and Work, Volume 136.H, and Collected Papers of Srinivasa Ramanujan, Volume 159.H, in the AMS Chelsea Publishing series.
Copublished with the London Mathematical Society.
Srinivasa Ramanujan is, arguably, the greatest mathematician that India has produced. His story is quite unusual: although he had no formal education in mathematics, he taught himself, and managed to produce many important new results. With the support of the English number theorist G. H. Hardy, Ramanujan received a scholarship to go to England and study mathematics. He died very young, at the age of 32, leaving behind three notebooks containing almost 3000 theorems, virtually all without proof. G. H. Hardy and others strongly urged that notebooks be edited and published, and the result is this series of books. This volume deals with Chapters 1-9 of Book II; each theorem is either proved, or a reference to a proof is given.
During the years 1903-1914, Ramanujan recorded many of his mathematical discoveries in notebooks without providing proofs. Although many of his results were already in the literature, more were not. Almost a decade after Ramanujan’s death in 1920, G.N. Watson and B.M. Wilson began to edit his notebooks but never completed the task. A photostat edition, with no editing, was published by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay in 1957. This book is the second of four volumes devoted to the editing of Ramanujan’s Notebooks. Part I, published in 1985, contains an account of Chapters 1-9 in the second notebook as well as a description of Ramanujan’s quarterly reports. In this volume, we examine Chapters 10-15 in Ramanujan’s second notebook. If a result is known, we provide references in the literature where proofs may be found; if a result is not known, we attempt to prove it. Not only are the results fascinating, but, for the most part, Ramanujan’s methods remain a mystery. Much work still needs to be done. We hope readers will strive to discover Ramanujan’s thoughts and further develop his beautiful ideas.
Upon Ramanujans death in 1920, G. H. Hardy strongly urged that Ramanujans notebooks be published and edited. In 1957, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay finally published a photostat edition of the notebooks, but no editing was undertaken. In 1977, Berndt began the task of editing Ramanujans notebooks: proofs are provided to theorems not yet proven in previous literature, and many results are so startling as to be unique.
During the years 1903-1914, Ramanujan worked in almost complete isolation in India. During this time, he recorded most of his mathematical discoveries without proofs in notebooks. Although many of his results were already found in the literature, most were not. Almost a decade after Ramanujan’s death in 1920, G.N. Watson and B.M. Wilson began to edit Ramanujan’s notebooks, but they never completed the task. A photostat edition, with no editing, was published by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay in 1957. This book is the fourth of five volumes devoted to the editing of Ramanujan’s notebooks. Parts I, II, and III, published in 1985, 1989, and 1991, contain accounts of Chapters 1-21 in Ramanujan’s second notebook as well as a description of his quarterly reports. This is the first of two volumes devoted to proving the results found in the unorganized portions of the second notebook and in the third notebook. The author also proves those results in the first notebook that are not found in the second or third notebooks. For those results that are known, references in the literature are provided. Otherwise, complete proofs are given. Over 1/2 of the results in the notebooks are new. Many of them are so startling and different that there are no results akin to them in the literature.
The fifth and final volume to establish the results claimed by the great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in his “Notebooks” first published in 1957. Although each of the five volumes contains many deep results, the average depth in this volume is possibly greater than in the first four. There are several results on continued fractions – a subject that Ramanujan loved very much. It is the authors wish that this and previous volumes will serve as springboards for further investigations by mathematicians intrigued by Ramanujans remarkable ideas.
In the library at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1976, George Andrews of Pennsylvania State University discovered a sheaf of pages in the handwriting of Srinivasa Ramanujan. Soon designated as “Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook,” it contains considerable material on mock theta functions and undoubtedly dates from the last year of Ramanujan’s life. In this book, the notebook is presented with additional material and expert commentary.
In the spring of 1976, George Andrews of Pennsylvania State University visited the library at Trinity College, Cambridge, to examine the papers of the late G.N. Watson. Among these papers, Andrews discovered a sheaf of 138 pages in the handwriting of Srinivasa Ramanujan. This manuscript was soon designated “Ramanujan’s lost notebook.” The “lost notebook” contains considerable material on mock theta functions and so undoubtedly emanates from the last year of Ramanujan’s life. It should be emphasized that the material on mock theta functions is perhaps Ramanujan’s deepest work.
This volume is the third of five volumes that the authors plan to write on Ramanujan’s lost notebook and other manuscripts and fragments found in The Lost Notebook and Other Unpublished Papers, published by Narosa in 1988. The ordinary partition function p(n) is the focus of this third volume. In particular, ranks, cranks, and congruences for p(n) are in the spotlight. Other topics include the Ramanujan tau-function, the Rogers–Ramanujan functions, highly composite numbers, and sums of powers of theta functions.
This volume is the fourth of five volumes that the authors plan to write on Ramanujan’s lost notebook. In contrast to the first three books on Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook, the fourth book does not focus on q-series. Most of the entries examined in this volume fall under the purviews of number theory and classical analysis. Several incomplete manuscripts of Ramanujan published by Narosa with the lost notebook are discussed. Three of the partial manuscripts are on diophantine approximation, and others are in classical Fourier analysis and prime number theory. Most of the entries in number theory fall under the umbrella of classical analytic number theory. Perhaps the most intriguing entries are connected with the classical, unsolved circle and divisor problems.
Ramanujan is recognized as one of the great number theorists of the twentieth century. Here now is the first book to provide an introduction to his work in number theory. Most of Ramanujan’s work in number theory arose out of $q$-series and theta functions. This book provides an introduction to these two important subjects and to some of the topics in number theory that are inextricably intertwined with them, including the theory of partitions, sums of squares and triangular numbers, and the Ramanujan tau function. The majority of the results discussed here are originally due to Ramanujan or were rediscovered by him. Ramanujan did not leave us proofs of the thousands of theorems he recorded in his notebooks, and so it cannot be claimed that many of the proofs given in this book are those found by Ramanujan. However, they are all in the spirit of his mathematics.
The subjects examined in this book have a rich history dating back to Euler and Jacobi, and they continue to be focal points of contemporary mathematical research. Therefore, at the end of each of the seven chapters, Berndt discusses the results established in the chapter and places them in both historical and contemporary contexts. The book is suitable for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students interested in number theory.
Robert A. Rankin, one of the world’s foremost authorities on modular forms and a founding editor of The Ramanujan Journal, died on January 27, 2001, at the age of 85. Rankin had broad interests and contributed fundamental papers in a wide variety of areas within number theory, geometry, analysis, and algebra. To commemorate Rankin’s life and work, the editors have collected together 25 papers by several eminent mathematicians reflecting Rankin’s extensive range of interests within number theory. Many of these papers reflect Rankin’s primary focus in modular forms. It is the editors’ fervent hope that mathematicians will be stimulated by these papers and gain a greater appreciation for Rankin’s contributions to mathematics.