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Ramanujan's lost notebook: a lecture series in Florida

By Krishnaswami Alladi

Evan Pugh Professor George Andrews of The Pennsylvania State University, a world authority on the work of Srinivasa Ramanujan, is giving a series of six lectures over a two-month period on "Ramanujan's Lost Notebook'' at the University of Florida, Gainesville, starting January 24, 2005. The topics of the lectures are: (i) An overview — what did Ramanujan have up his sleeve? (ii) Heine's transformation (iii) Partial fractions (iv) Partial theta functions (v) Wild things and (vi) Entire functions. The third lecture was delivered on February 15.

It was Professor Andrews who in 1976 discovered Ramanujan's Lost Notebook at the Wren Library in Cambridge University, and wrote a series of important papers in the journal Advances in Mathematics in which he explained the significance of Ramanujan's results in the Lost Notebook and in that process made fundamental improvements as well.

In 1987, during the Ramanujan Centennial, the printed form of Ramanujan's Lost Notebook by Springer-Narosa was released by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who presented the first copy to Janaki Ammal Ramanujan, and the second copy to Professor Andrews in recognition of his contributions.

The original two notebooks that Ramanujan maintained in India prior to his departure to England have been edited in detail by Professor Bruce Berndt of the University of Illinois and published in five volumes by Springer. Now, Professors Andrews and Berndt have undertaken the enormous task of editing Ramanujan's Lost Notebook, which too will appear as a series of volumes published by Springer. "There is still much to understand about the implications of many results in the Lost Notebook and their connections with current research which is one of the reasons to edit the Lost Notebook," said Professor Andrews. The first of these volumes will appear in 2005 and at least two more volumes will be forthcoming. "The mathematical content of the Lost Notebook is so immense, that it is difficult to predict at this time how many volumes it will take to completely edit it," he added.

Professor Krishnaswami Alladi, Chairman of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Florida, said that in these lectures Professor Andrews will describe some of the major themes that will form the contents of his series of books with Professor Berndt. "This lecture series is one of the highlights of the Special Year in Number Theory and Combinatorics conducted this year in our department," he added.

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