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Old 06-07-2010, 09:29 PM
Indistinguishable Indistinguishable is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 10,519
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
I'd throw the name Srinivasa Ramanujan into the genius hat.

Born in India and living in near complete poverty he taught himself nearly a thousand years of western mathematics. That is to say, he didn't read a book and learn so much as derive most of what constituted advanced mathematics all by himself.
Wendell Wagner already addressed this, but Ramanujan wasn't living in a hut somewhere cut-off from the rest of civilization. He went to school, read textbooks, talked to professors, and all the usual things. He had a mathematical education. He just happened to also be very talented at mathematics, and, as often happens, managed to derive many things on his own without or before being aware of the previous similar discoveries of others. He had idiosyncratic interests, so there were large swaths of math he never bothered to acquaint himself with; the same is true of every mathematician. And of course he went on to do much great mathematical work that was wholly original. But the idea that he re-developed "a thousand years of Western mathematics" entirely from scratch? No, people in India weren't that ignorant of the rest of the mathematical world...

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 06-07-2010 at 09:34 PM.