"The son of a prominent Japanese mathematician who came to the United States after World War II, Ken Ono was raised on a diet of high expectations and little praise. Rebelling against his pressure-cooker of a life, Ken determined to drop out of high school to follow his own path. To obtain his father’s approval, he invoked the biography of the famous Indian mathematical prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan, whom his father revered, who had twice flunked out of college because of his single-minded devotion to mathematics.
Ono describes his rocky path through college and graduate school, interweaving Ramanujan’s story with his own and telling how at key moments, he was inspired by Ramanujan and guided by mentors who encouraged him to pursue his interest in exploring Ramanujan’s mathematical legacy.
Picking up where others left off, beginning with the great English mathematician G.H. Hardy, who brought Ramanujan to Cambridge in 1914, Ono has devoted his mathematical career to understanding how in his short life, Ramanujan was able to discover so many deep mathematical truths, which Ramanujan believed had been sent to him as visions from a Hindu goddess. And it was Ramanujan who was ultimately the source of reconciliation between Ono and his parents.
Ono’s search for Ramanujan ranges over three continents and crosses paths with mathematicians whose lives span the globe and the entire twentieth century and beyond. Along the way, Ken made many fascinating discoveries. The most important and surprising one of all was his own humanity."
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Ken Ono is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics at Emory University and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He has received many awards for his research in number theory, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship, and a Sloan Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Career Award by Bill Clinton in a ceremony at the White House in 2000, and in 2005 he was named the National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar. Ono served as Associate Producer and Consultant for the forthcoming film on the life and work of Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity. Additionally, he serves as Editor-in-Chief for several journals, including Research in the Mathematical Sciences and Research in Number Theory, and he is an Editor of The Ramanujan Journal. He also serves as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Graduate Texts in Mathematics.
Amir D. Aczel is a bestselling author and historian of science. He received his PhD in Statistics from University of Oregon. Dr. Aczel was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004, and he is currently a visiting researcher at Boston University's Center for the Philosophy & History of Science. He has written articles that have been published by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Jerusalem Post, and the Huffington Post.
"My Search for Ramanujan,” is a combination memoir and biography by the mathematician Ken Ono, in collaboration with the late science writer Amir D. Aczel. ...[this] book is divided in two. Half is a brief, lively biography of Ramanujan, and half is an autobiography. The bridge between the two is a letter that Mr. Ono’s father, Takashi, a mathematician at Johns Hopkins, received from Ramanujan’s widow in 1984. (She had been 10 when they married.) After Ramanujan’s death she had a hard time financially. Many years later some mathematicians organized a fund to provide for her needs and to put up a statue of him. Takashi had contributed, and this was a letter of thanks. Mr. Ono’s father showed it to him and told him the story of Ramanujan. The effect was probably not what he expected. It inspired Mr. Ono to drop out of school and leave his family. The rest of this part of the book deals with the development of Mr. Ono’s life and career. ... Mr. Ono has had a fine career and has ended up as a professor of mathematics like his father. He has worked on some suggestions of Ramanujan’s and even made a pilgrimage to Ramanujan’s childhood home in India. ...Father and son have now reconciled. As for Ramanujan, someone once said that genius is the capacity to do things easily that others can’t do at all. – Wall Street Journal
"So in its frankness and courage, this book is less a mathematician's memoir than a thought-provoking examination of what matters and what doesn't." - Live Mint
"Ken Ono's generosity and courage to share some of his inner most feelings and personal life with readers is admirable."- Notices of the American Mathematical Society
"Ono and Aczel have woven real-life incidents into a story that is engaging... The book will make a great turning point not only for young and aspiring mathematicians but also for others who have a voice in their heads telling them they are on the wrong road."- The Hindu
"We all have someone who inspires us and wants to make us better. Our hero might be a teacher, a family member, a historical figure, or a movie star. For Ken Ono it was Srinivasa Ramanujan. In My Search for Ramanujan, an intimate account of Ono's life, we are taken on his journey from "tiger-child" to world-class mathematician....This book will have value for many people...It is particularly inspiring to see that even a child prodigy turned world-class mathematician had these dark moments and was able to surmount them, not through sheer force of will but thanks to the support of some good people." - Focus
"Ken [Ono] grew up as an immigrant in America, an introverted kid under great pressure to excel, which almost destroyed his self-esteem and confidence. He was ready to quit everything. It was a chance encounter with Ramanujan, his work and life, that inspired Ken and developed a deep and abiding love for mathematics. It was Ramanujan who ultimately caused the reconciliation between Ken and his parents. Ken Ono has written an outstanding book, which is like his pilgrimage (both literal and metaphorical) called "My Search for Ramanujan". That a gem such as Ramanujan could emerge from utter poverty, against untold hardships and hostility, and from an education system that almost discarded him, was largely self-taught and became a mathematical giant, is an inspiration not only to Ken Ono but to all of us."- Mumbai Mirror
"Ono interweaves Ramanujan's life and work with his own fight to become a mathematician -- including a suicide attempt -- in the shadow of his distinguished mathematician father, Takashi Ono. After years of estrangement, the Onos realized that they were united by admiration and affection for the university drop-out Ramanujan. Here is yet another example of how this enigmatic Indian's unique achievements continue to reverberate nearly a century after his death." - Nature
"Ken Ono is a number theorist who tells here the story of Ramanujan and discovers many parallels between Ramanujan's obsession for mathematics and Hardy's efforts that brought Ramanujan to the center of the mathematical community of his time and similar incidents in his own life and the life of his parents....The book is based on a true story but it reads like a script for an American movie with a happy ending." - European Mathematical Society
"Young readers searching for meaning in life and mathematics will be reinvigorated by Ono's story." - American Mathematical Society
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