Spirit of Ramanujan Math Talent Initiative
TWCF Number
Project Duration
May 6 / 2016
- August 31 / 2017
Core Funding Area
Genetics and Genius
North America
Amount Awarded
Grant DOI*

* A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

Ken Ono
Institution Emory University

The Spirit of Ramanujan Math Talent Initiative strives to find undiscovered mathematicians around the world and match them with advancement opportunities. This initiative is inspired by the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a gifted mathematician and subject of the film The Man Who Knew Infinity.

A poor college dropout who was self-taught in mathematics, Ramanujan reached out to G.H. Hardy, a superstar British mathematician. Hardy was so astonished by Ramanujan’s mathematical theories that he invited him to Cambridge to study and collaborate. From the start, Ramanujan fought against the odds because of his poverty, location, and lack of formalized schooling. Yet with his brilliant mind, his dreams, and the support of the mathematical community, he defied those odds. Together, Ramanujan and Hardy innovated vast tracts of mathematics. Forced to return to Indian because of fragile health, Ramanujan died tragically at the age of 32. The three enigmatic notebooks he left behind drive cutting-edge research to this day. In the words of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: “[Ramanujan] got one math textbook and that was enough for him to recreate the whole of modern mathematics and push the field forward. … What would have happened if he had access to the whole Internet? How many other Ramanujans are out there without access to even one book?”

To support today’s “Ramanujans,” this initiative provides a range of opportunities. An open event hosted on expii.com invites students worldwide to solve mathematical puzzles. All participants can then apply for further enrichment, which involves establishing professional dialogue with leading mathematicians. Successful applicants will then be invited to a conference at Emory University and the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM), held in Atlanta from January 4–7. Attended by thousands, the annual JMM is the largest annual mathematics conference in the world. Organized by the Mathematical Association of America and the American. Mathematical Society, it seeks to advance mathematical achievement, encourage research, and provide communication necessary for progress in the field. The participants will engage with award-winning mathematicians, such as Fields medalists and winners of the Cole Prize and Steele Prize. In the spirit of Ramanujan, select participants will receive financial support for summer research programs and development opportunities in mathematics.

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