Tribute : Shakuntala Devi “Human Computer”



In 1977 in USA she competed with a computer to see who gives the cube root of 188,132,517 faster, she won. That same year, at the Southern Methodist University she 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 U.S. Bureau of Standards by the Univac 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation.

On June 18, 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. This event is mentioned in the 1982 Guinness Book of Records.

Shakuntala Devi (November 4, 1929 – April 21, 2013), popularly known as the “Human Computer”, was a child prodigy and mental calculator. Her talents earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.

Google, on Monday Nov.4,2013, celebrated mathematics wizard Shakuntala Devi’s 84th birthday with a doodle. 

Shakuntala Devi was born in Bangalore, 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 tamertightrope walker and magician. Devi’s father discovered her ability to memorize numbers while teaching her a card trick when she was about three years old. Her father left the circus and took her on road shows that displayed her ability at number crunching. She was able to do this without any formal education. By age six she demonstrated her calculation and memorization abilities at the University of Mysore.

In 1944 Devi moved to London with her father. She returned to India in the mid-1960s and married Paritosh Bannerji, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service from Kolkata. She and her husband were divorced in 1979. Devi returned to Bangalore in the early 1980s.

Devi travelled the world demonstrating her arithmetic talents, including a tour of Europe in 1950 and a performance in New York in 1976. In 1988 she returned 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 at several tasks, including the calculations of large numbers; Examples of the problems presented to Devi were calculating the cube root of 61,629,875, and the seventh root of 170,859,375. Jensen reported that Devi was able to provide the solution to the aforementioned problems (the answers being 395 and 15 respectively) before Jensen was able to copy them down in his notebook. Jensen published his findings in the academic journal Intelligence in 1990.

In addition to her work as a mental calculator, Devi was an astrologer and an author of several books, including cookbooks and fictional novels.


Courtesy : Google and Wikipedia