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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Shakuntala Devi – Celebrating The Birthday Of A Math Genius


Today is the 84th birthday of the late Shakuntala Devi. Shakun… who?

In celebrating the 84th birthday of the human computer, Google made a doodle featuring Shakuntala Devi. The doodle shows Google written in the same way as the digits on a calculator.

Who was she again?
She was referred as the human computer because of her outstanding mathematical ability. She could instantly make complex calculations without using a calculator. In fact, she was featured in the Guinness Book of World Record for her outstanding mathematical ability. She also wrote several books related to math.

Do you have a problem remembering or telling the day of the week in the last century?
With Shakuntala Devi, she could you give you an instant answer without referring to books or calendars.

Discovery of her talent
She was the daughter of a circus performer. Her talent was discovered while she was playing cards with her father at the age of three. Her father then realized how outstanding her daughter was when it comes to mathematical calculations.

Her calculation abilities were the reason she defeated her father while playing cards. She memorized the cards to beat him. While she was staying at the University of Mysore, she demonstrated her exemplary calculation skills during her first major public performance.

Adult life
Shakuntala Devi did not lose her mathematical genius when she became adult. In fact, she was able to extract the 23rd root of 201-digit number using only her mind. Then, in 1980, she was able to demonstrate her multiplication skills by multiplying two 13-digit numbers. She answered correctly within 28 seconds. No calculator, whatsoever.

Her death
Earlier this year, she died of respiratory problems. She was 83 then.

The latest Doodle of Google marks her 84th birthday. But this doodle isn’t all about celebrating the life of Shakuntala Devi but it’s also about informing people regarding important characters and events in our lives that some people might not be aware of. She will surely be remembered for her efforts in making mathematics a cool subject.


For those who hate math (like me), may we be inspired by Shakuntala Devi’s works. Mathematics may not be for everyone but we need it for our daily activities. 

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