Shakuntala Devi: An Indian Writer and Mathematician as Computer

Shakuntala Devi: An Indian Writer and Mathematician as Computer

Shakuntala Devi, an Indian writer and mathematical genius popularly referred to as the “human computer”. She was reputed to form complicated mathematical calculations in her head and effortlessly speak out the results! Born into an impoverished family in southern India because of the daughter of a circus performer, she started displaying her skills at an early age.

Early Life

She was born in Bengaluru, India, on 4 November 1929 to an orthodox Kannada Brahmin family. Her father, a traveling magician who had rebelled against his traditional family to pursue this unconventional profession rather become a priest or astrologer than his forefathers had.
Also, she born in a really poor family as her father hardly made enough to form ends meet. She couldn’t even receive proper education due to her family’s dire financial situation.


According to an anecdote, she started card games together with her father when she was three years old. Her father realized that the small girl won all the games against him a day and suspected that she was cheating. He closely studied her as she played and realized that she was memorizing all the cardboard numbers and their sequence because the game progressed within the initial rounds and used this data to win the sport.

Shakuntala Devi: An Indian Writer and Mathematician as Computer
Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi’ Major Works

She best remembered for demonstrating the multiplication of two randomly picked 13-digit numbers—7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 on 18 June 1980. She correctly gave the solution as 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. This unbelievable feat of hers earned her an area within the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ in 1982.
She started the Shakuntala Devi Education Foundation charitable trust to supply quality education to children from underprivileged backgrounds. She also helped spread global awareness about India’s contribution to mathematics.

Awards

In 1969 Shakuntala Devi, awarded the title of the ‘Most Distinguished Woman of the Year’ by the University of Philippines. Likewise, she received the ‘Ramanujan Mathematical Genius’ Award in Washington D.C in 1988.

Shakuntala Devi’ Personal Life

She married Paritosh Banerji, a politician of the Indian Administrative Service from Kolkata within the mid-1960s. Similarly, the couple had divorced in 1979. She died on 21 April 2013 after affected by respiratory, heart, and kidney problems a few times.
Also, she was honored with a Google Doodle for what would are her 84th birthday on 4 November 2013.