The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » sci.math.* » sci.math

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Obituary: Bharat's 'human computer' Shakuntala Devi
Replies: 2   Last Post: Apr 24, 2013 12:05 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Dr. Jai Maharaj

Posts: 276
Registered: 1/30/06
Obituary: Bharat's 'human computer' Shakuntala Devi
Posted: Apr 22, 2013 6:27 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

Obituary: India's 'human computer' Shakuntala Devi

Devi made complex mathematical calculations

BBC News
Monday, April 22, 2013

Indian maths wizard Shakuntala Devi, who died at 83 in
the southern Indian city of Bangalore on Sunday, was
often called the "human computer".

She made complex mathematical calculations and was a
household name in India.

Shakuntala Devi's dazzling computational powers revealed
themselves in early childhood but she had no formal

Among her adult feats, she was able to multiply two
random 13-digit numbers in a few seconds.

She once calculated the 23rd root of a 201 digit number
mentally in under a minute.

When given a date in the last century she could instantly
calculate which day it fell on.

She was featured by Guinness World Records for this
facility with numbers.

"God's gift. A divine quality," said Ms Devi once when
she was asked about her ability.

She also said nobody in her family had shown a head for

"Not even remotely, although my father was a stage
magician," she said.

According to reports, he discovered his three-year-old
daughter's abilities with numbers when playing cards with

He apparently found that she beat him not by sleight of
hand, but by memorising the cards.

Devi was already being called a "child prodigy" when, at
the age of six, she demonstrated her skills in a public
performance at an university in her native state of

DC Shivdev of an education trust run in her name said
Shakuntala Devi "strove to simplify math for students and
help them get over their math phobia".

He said her "techniques to simplify math were not used by
educational institutions".

"It is a pity that her techniques died with her," he told
The Hindu newspaper.

Devi wrote a number of books with titles like Fun with
Numbers and Puzzles to Puzzle You.

She also had an alternative career as a successful
astrologer, and she often toured to give lectures and
offered astrology consultations.

More at:


Mathematics wizard Shakuntala Devi dead

The Times of India
April 22, 2013

Credited with solving some frightfully complicated
arithmetic problems with apparent ease and astonishing
speed, Devi’s calculating skills stunned the world
throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Bangalore: Shakuntala Devi, known for her mathematical
prowess and the ability to compute complex equations
mentally, died at Bangalore Hospital at 8:15am on Sunday,
age 73. She was admitted to the hospital with respiratory
difficulty, following which she acquired heart problems
and endured a heart attack on Saturday evening. She was
then on ventilator support but suffered another cardiac
arrest early on Sunday, which proved fatal.

Credited with solving some frightfully complicated
arithmetic problems with apparent ease and astonishing
speed, Devi's calculating skills stunned the world
throughout the 1970s and 80s. Her sharpness often made
sophisticated digital devices seem inadequate.

The computing prodigy was born on November 4, 1939, in
Bangalore, to an orthodox priestly Brahmin family. She
may have had rebellious genes, for, her father, refusing
to conform and become a priest, chose to play a circus
performer, excellent in trapeze, tightrope and cannonball
shows. When she was only three, Devi began showing great
affinity with numbers. By the time she was five, she
became an expert in solving complex mental arithmetic.

Fame became hers when she beat one of the world's fastest
computers by 10 seconds in a complicated mathematics
calculation. Multiplying two 13-digit numbers in 28
seconds earned her a place in the Guinness Book of

Devi had no access to proper schooling and food in her
early years. In an interview with TOI, Bangalore, some
years ago, she said, "I have not gone to a school. At 10,
I was admitted to Class 1 of St Theresa's Convent in
Chamarajpet. But my parents could not afford the monthly
fee of Rs 2, so in three months, I was thrown out. I grew
up in a semi-slum area in Gavipuram, Guttahalli.

"It's my dream to open a mathematics university and R&D
centre, which will educate a cross-section of people,
using modern techniques, short-cuts and smart methods. I
cannot transfer my abilities to anyone, but I can think
of quicker ways with which to help people develop
numerical aptitude. There are a large number of people
whose logic is unexplored."

It 2010, she had filed a police complaint accusing her
domestic help of cheating. She was threatened by a gang
for lodging the complaint and had confessed to being
scared of stepping out of her house.

"She was a vibrant lady who was sharp-minded and
energetic. A witty person, she was fiercely independent
as well," said DC Shivdev Deshmudre, trustee, Shakuntala
Devi Educational Foundation Public Trust.

"Devi used very distinctive but offbeat techniques, which
were not always based on theorem, but her methods were
correct and gave results. Her capability to perform
sophisticated computation, which could beat computers,
gave her a stature of a computational wizard. Her death
is a great loss to us all," said Professor Y Narahari,
chairman, computer science, Indian Institute of Science

"Shakuntala Devi used a high degree of mnemonic devices
in their brain and had tremendous retention power, unlike
most normal human beings. She was able to hold on to
large number of digits (both input and output) in her
memory. She, however, can't be termed as a mathematical
genius but a computational genius," said Prof CE Veni
Madhavan, computer science and automation department,

Devi is survived by a daughter, son-in-law and two

Continues at:

Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
Om Shanti

o o o

o Not for commercial use. Solely to be fairly used
for the educational purposes of research and open
discussion. The contents of this post may not have been
authored by, and do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the poster. The contents are protected by copyright
law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

o If you send private e-mail to me, it will likely
not be read, considered or answered if it does not
contain your full legal name, current e-mail and postal
addresses, and live-voice telephone number.

o Posted for information and discussion. Views
expressed by others are not necessarily those of the
poster who may or may not have read the article.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This article may contain copyrighted
material the use of which may or may not have been
specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This
material is being made available in efforts to advance
the understanding of environmental, political, human
rights, economic, democratic, scientific, social, and
cultural, etc., issues. It is believed that this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material
as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the
material on this site is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
the included information for research, comment,
discussion and educational purposes by subscribing to
USENET newsgroups or visiting web sites. For more
information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this article
for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Since newsgroup posts are being removed by forgery by one
or more net terrorists, this post may be reposted several

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.