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G.H. Hardy
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Mathematician
    (February 7, 1877-December 1, 1947)
    Born in Cranleigh, England, United Kingdom
    Birth name was Godfrey Harold Hardy
    Contributed to number theory and mathematical analysis
    Co-developer of the Hardy-Littlewood circle method, the Hardy-Ramanujan asymptotic formula and the Hardy-Weinberg principle in population genetics
    Wrote 'A Mathematician's Apology' (1940)
    He was shy and socially awkward.
    During his school years, he won many prizes but hated accepting them in front of the other students.
    He hated seeing his reflection in a mirror and when staying in hotels would cover the mirrors with towels.
    He said about his interest in pure mathematics, 'I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world.'
    He called his collaboration with Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan 'the one romantic incident in my life.'
    He was constantly trying to trick God, such as bringing an umbrella and papers to grade with him when he went to cricket matches so God would think he was planning to get work done when it rained, thus prompting God to make the sun shine out of spite, which is what Hardy really wanted in the first place.
    The whole 'tricking God' thing is even weirder given that he professed to be an atheist.
    He and his frequent collaborator J.E. Littlewood were so prolific that a Danish mathematician quipped, 'Nowadays, there are only three really great English mathematicians: Hardy, Littlewood, and Hardy–Littlewood.'
    Despite his belief that his work had no application, physicist Neils Bohr found it useful in finding quantum partition functions of atoms.
    His great passion outside of mathematics was cricket, and he formulated the Hardy-Weinberg principle to solve a problem that geneticist Reginald Punnett described to him while the two were playing a match.
    His 'A Mathematician's Apology' is considered one of the best descriptions of how a mathematician thinks and the pleasure of mathematics written for the layman.
    He modestly said that his greatest contribution to mathematics was his role in discovering Ramanujan.
    He told Bertrand Russell, 'If I could prove by logic that you would die in five minutes, I should be sorry you were going to die, but my sorrow would be very much mitigated by pleasure in the proof.' (Russell, a fellow mathematician, said that he understood the sentiment.)

Credit: C. Fishel


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