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G.H. Hardy

G.H. Hardy

Early Life and Education

Godfrey Harold Hardy more commonly known as G.H. Hardy was one of the most prominent mathematicians of all time. Born to mathematically inclined parents, in Surrey, England on 7th February 1877, he started showing signs of similar affinity from young age. At the age of only two, he could write numbers up to million and used to factorize the numbers of hymns. Hardy won a scholarship to Winchester College where he pursued his mathematical work later to join the well reputed Trinity College in 1896. He passed the Mathematics Tripos exams; part 1 and 2 and earned his Master’s degree in 1903. He got the post of Lecturer at Trinity College but in 1906 left the position for the ‘Savilian Chair of Geometry’ at Oxford only to return to Cambridge in 1931 where he taught as a Professor till 1942.

Contribution to Mathematics

Hardy brought ‘rigour’ to British mathematics which is a gold standard for mathematical proof. He worked extensively in mathematical analysis and analytical number theory alongside J.E Littlewood. He also worked a lot for the development of the number theory. The first and second Hardy-Littlewood conjectures are fine examples of the work G.H. Hardy did to develop the number theory. The Hardy-Weinberg principle (basics of population genetics) is another notable work done by him. Another noteworthy contribution of this brilliant mathematician was the Hardy-Ramanujan asymptotic formula, based on ‘integer partitions’ that he worked out with his coworker Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Hardy wanted his work to be referred to as ‘pure mathematics’ rather than applied mathematics. He was highly against the use of mathematics in war and military maneuvers. In his view mathematics was not something to be used in social destruction and to fulfill political purposes. Hardy was interested in pure mathematics and its topics including Diophantine analysis, distribution of primes, Fourier series, the Riemann zeta function, and the summation of divergent series.

The seriousness that Hardy brought to mathematics was pretty uncommon at that time. From formulation of essays to bringing in new techniques in various mathematical methods, Hardy proved himself to be a highly significant figure of the field.

Personal Life and Death

Hardy never married but did have a few relationships. He was a very shy person who did not like to be center of attention or meeting new people. He was also known to be very cold and peculiar at times. Being a bright student he was awarded many times but he detested receiving any kind of appreciation in front of everyone. He was member of various societies later on in life such as the Cambridge Apostles and the Bloomsbury group. He was also briefly involved in politics not as an activist but he did take part in the Union of Democratic Control in the First World War.

His students however had insight to his softer side. According to many, Hardy wanted his pupils to succeed and could not withstand any kind of failure. G.H. Hardy died in December 1947 after devoting all his life to mathematical work.


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