Shakuntala Devi a "Human Computer"

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India, a land of talent which has given unparalleled contribution in the field of  mathematics  by giving prodigies who have brought laurels to the nation fighting all odds.Shakuntala Devi was one of such child prodigy who mesmerized the mathematical community of the world by her unique talent of calculation.

The world honoured her with the name of  "Human computer". Her talents eventually earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records

During her early years, Shakuntala Devi shot to fame by mentally calculating one of the toughest mathematical multiplications 10 seconds before the fastest and the most efficient. 

Her problem-solving power came to the limelight with her performances at various institutions where she answered complex mathematical questions with great easeApart from being an unparalleled mathematician, Devi was also an astrologer, activist and a prolific writer, whose works went on to inspire millions of people.

Shakuntala Devi was born on November 4,1929 in Bengaluru, India to an orthodox Kannada Brahmin family. Her father rebelled against becoming a temple priest and instead joined a circus where he worked as a trapeze artist, lion tamer, tightrope walker and magician.

It was he who eventually introduced her to the world of mathematics and taught her interesting card tricks that initiated her love for numbers. He discovered his daughter's ability to memorise numbers while teaching her a card trick when she was about three years old

Shakuntala Devi's talent couldn't be kept under wraps for long and her reputation of being a young mathematical genius spread far and wide. At the age of 6, she demonstrated her calculation skills in her first major public performance at the University of Mysore and two years later, she again proved herself successful as a child prodigy at Annamalai University

Shakuntala Devi went for tours around the world through the 50s and performed in a number of institutions, theaters and even appeared on television. On September 27, 1973, she appeared on the BBC show, 'Nationwide' with the popular Bob Wellings, who was stunned when she managed give the right answers to all the mathematical questions that he bombarded her with. Gradually, her skills and her fan-following grew substantially

In the year 1977, at Southern Methodist University, Shakuntala Devi was asked to give the 23rd root of a 201-digit number; she answered in 50 seconds. Her answer 546,372,891 was confirmed by calculations done at the US Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation .

 

On18th 1980, June  Shakuntala Devi solved the multiplication of 13 digit number 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,099,745,779 picked up by the computer science department of imperial college, London. Shakuntala solved the question in a flash and took 28 seconds to solve the entire problem, and her answer was 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 !!!!! 

This amazing incident helped her get a place in the Guinness book of world record. She has been travelling around the globe performing for the student community, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Politicians and Educationalists.

Shakuntala Devi travelled the world demonstrating her arithmetic talents, including a tour of Europe in 1950 and a performance in New York City in 1976.In 1988, she travelled to the US to have her abilities studied by Arthur Jensen, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Jensen tested her performance of several tasks, including the calculation of large numbers. Examples of the problems presented to Devi included calculating the cube root of 61,629,875 and the seventh root of 170,859,375. Jensen reported that Devi provided the solution to the aforementioned problems (395 and 15, respectively) before Jensen could copy them down in his notebook.Jensen published his findings in the academic journal Intelligence in 1990

In April 2013, Shakuntala Devi was admitted to a hospital in Bengaluru with respiratory problems.Over the following two weeks she suffered from complications of the heart and kidneys. She died in the hospital on 21 April 2013. She was 83 years old then

 

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