An Interesting Mathematician: Godfrey Harold Hardy

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Some people might think that mathematicians have different characteristics from most people. In fact, this is not so wrong. For one thing, mathematicians give their lives to mathematics, which most people find difficult or dislike. But if we look at the history of mathematics, we can indeed find many mathematicians with interesting personal characteristics or distinctive ideas. One of them is, of course, Godfrey Harold Hardy.

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Godfrey Harold Hardy was born in England on February 7, 1877. Although his parents were not university educated, they were both inclined towards mathematics. Hardy’s curiosity and intelligence in mathematics was evident from an early age.

At just two years old, he could write numbers up to millions, and when he was taken to church, he spent time factoring the numbers of hymns. Hardy always excelled in education. He thought his best work came from his collaboration with his close friend Littlewood and his mentor and student Ramanujan. But when Hardy was asked what his greatest contribution to mathematics was, he said it was discovering Ramanujan.

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Pure Mathematics

Harold Hardy was a pure mathematician, in fact Cambridge mathematicians called him the purest of pure mathematicians. Hardy prided himself on the abstractness and “uselessness” of his work. For him, the glory of mathematics was in its abstraction.

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Personal Life and Obsessions

Hardy had some obsessions. Technological gadgets were one of them, he couldn’t stand them. He never wore a watch or used a telephone. He did most of his correspondence by telegram and postcards. He never liked to be photographed, he has only a few pictures.

Apart from that, he could not bear to look at himself in the mirror. It is even said that when he had to stay in a hotel, he covered all the mirrors with towels. Hardy never married, some say his only love was mathematics. Hardy’s greatest passion after mathematics was cricket. One of his friends even said that if Hardy had spent half an hour every day on the stock market, he would have been a very rich man.

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Ali Esen

Istanbul University, Department of Mathematics. Interested in science and technology.

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