The three notebooks of mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan are being microfilmed to enable research scholars access the enduring works of the genius in his own handwriting.

The 100-year old library of the University of Madras, which has preserved the notebooks, has entered into an agreement with the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai, to publicise the works of the mathematician.

Accordingly, the note books are being microfilmed by Roja Muthiah Library.

“Five copies will be taken. While one copy of the microfilm along with the original manuscripts will be kept in the university library, the other copies will be given to IMSc, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; Roja Muthiah Library and Connemara Library,” says G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras.

Significant works

“A hundred years may have passed. Yet, Ramanujan's works are certainly significant. Still, mathematicians are working out what exactly his works mean, especially on number theory,” says R. Balasubramanian, Director, IMSc, Chennai.

“At present, we have completed microfilming of only a limited version as the copyright is with the university.” Says Mr. Thiruvasagam: “The three notebooks will be microfilmed. We want all researchers to access these valuable works.” Says K. Parthasarathy, director and head, Ramanujan Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics, University of Madras: “Ramanujan has written down formulae after formulae in these handwritten manuscripts. It has taken the use of modern mathematics to prove his mathematical works… . One can only wonder how Ramanujan thought of them first of all.”

Two decades ago, the university library had laminated all the pages in the notebooks to preserve them.

The university and IMSc also have plans to restore the manuscripts to its original status as the value of notebooks is unmatched.