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Mathematician claims proof of Ramanujan's conjecture

Akram Mohammed Mysore:Dec 13, 2012 DH News Service 1:46 IST

Conjectures are mathematical statements stated long ago

An American mathematician claims to have come up with a proof for one of the last conjectures, Srinivasa Ramanujan had scribbled in his deathbed in 1920.

In the last letter to G H Hardy, a British mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan had referred to mock theta functions, which has found applications in cancer research, polymer sciences, Lie theory and other fields of mathematics and physics.

Ramanujan in the letter had defined mock-theta functions. “I have not proved rigorously that it (mock-theta functions) is necessarily so. But, I have constructed a number of examples in which it is conceivable to construct a number of theta functions....,” Ramanujan had written.

“I am going to complete that proof tomorrow,” claimed Ken Ono, a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and professor of Mathematics at Emory University, USA. He is in Mysore to participate in the an international conference on the works of Ramanujan held between December 12 to 14.

Little progress was made about Ramanujan’s mock-theta conjecture. “It wasn’t until 2002, through the work of Sander Zwegers, that we had a description of the functions that Ramanujan was writing about in 1920,” he said.

No one was talking about black holes in the 1920s when Ramanujan first came up with mock modular forms, and yet, his work may unlock secrets about them, he said. Ken Ono, who contends to be the biggest fan of Srinivasa Ramanujan, is also an accomplished tri-athlete.

D D Somashekar, chairman, department of mathematics, University of Mysore, said that conjectures are mathematical statements stated long ago. “These conjectures can be proved or disproved. Since, Ken Ono is claiming to prove Ramanujan’s conjecture, we are all curious about that.”

The conjecture made by Ramanujan in 1920, now appears to be on the verge of being proved right, 82 years after it was made on his deathbed. The conjecture, if proved right, will be testimony to the exotic genius of Srinivasa Ramanujam.

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