India’s ‘human computer’ Shakuntala Devi expired in Bangalore
BANGALORE: Astrologer Shakuntala Devi, who was dubbed “human computer” for her swift numerical calculation abilities, passed away here on Sunday after brief illness. She was 83 and is survived by a daughter. Shakuntala Devi was admitted to Bangalore Hospital in the city April 3 as her kidneys became weak and she also had breathing problems.
Shakuntala Devi was born in Bangalore – Karnataka, India, to an orthodox priestly Kannada family. Her father rebelled against becoming a temple priest and instead joined a circus, where he worked as a trapeze and tightrope performer, and later as a lion tamer and a human cannonball. Shakuntala Devi was only around three years old and she was roped in to help her father with card tricks. Her father left the circus and took her on road shows that displayed her amazing ability at number crunching. Her calculating gifts first demonstrated themselves while she was doing card tricks with her father when she was three. They report she “beat” them by memorization of cards rather than by sleight of hand. By age six she demonstrated her calculation and memorization abilities at the University of Mysore. At the age of eight she had success at Annamalai University by doing the same. In 2006 she released In the Wonderland of Numbers with Orient Paperbacks which talks about a girl Neha and her fascination for numbers. She developed the concept of `mind dynamics’.
- In 1977 in Dallas she competed with a computer to see who could give the cube root of 188132517 faster. She won. At an American university she was asked to give the 23rd root of 91674867692003915809866092758538016248310668014430862240712651642793465704086709659 3279205767480806790022783016354924852380335745316935111903596577547340075681688305620821016129132845564805780158806771. She answered in 50 seconds. Her answer of 546372891 took a UNIVAC 1108 computer a full minute (10 seconds more) to confirm that she was right after it was fed with 13000 instructions.
- On June 18, 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers 7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779 picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. This event is mentioned in the 1995 Guinness Book of Records.
- Devi was an astrologer and gave remedies purportedly based on date and time of birth and place.
On April 21, 2013 at around 8:15 am, Shakuntala Devi died at a hospital in Bangalore, India. She had been admitted to the “Bangalore Hospital” in the city on April 3 as her kidneys had become weak and she also had respiratory problems . She was 83 years old and is survived by a daughter. Hundreds of people, including relatives and admirers were present at her last rites, conducted in the southern suburb of the city of Bangalore in the evening.
Some of her books include:
- Puzzles to Puzzle You (New Delhi: Orient, 2005). ISBN 978-81-222-0014-0
- More Puzzles to Puzzle You (New Delhi: Orient, 2006). ISBN 978-81-222-0048-5
- Book of Numbers (New Delhi: Orient, 2006). ISBN 978-81-222-0006-5
- Perfect Murder (New Delhi: Orient, 1976), OCLC 3432320
- Figuring: The Joy of Numbers (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), ISBN 978-0-06-011069-7, OCLC 4228589
- The World of Homosexuals (New Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1977), ISBN-10: 0706904788, ISBN-13: 978-0706904789
- In the Wonderland of Numbers (New Delhi: Orient, 2006). ISBN 978-81-222-0399-8
- Super Memory: It Can Be Yours (New Delhi: Orient, 2011). ISBN 978-81-222-0507-7; (Sydney: New Holland, 2012). ISBN 978-1-74257-240-6, OCLC 781171515
- Mathability: Awaken the Math Genius in Your Child (New Delhi: Orient, 2005). ISBN 978-81-222-0316-5
- Astrology for You (New Delhi: Orient, 2005). ISBN 978-81-222-0067-6
Shakuntala Devi (November 4, 1929 – April 21, 2013), popularly known as “Human Computer”, was an Indian prodigymental calculator.