Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi was an Indian writer and mental calculator, popularly known as the “Human Computer”. Devi strove to simplify mathematics for students.

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Some Lesser Known Facts About Shakuntala Devi

  • Shakuntala Devi was born into a financially weak family in Bengaluru.
  • She could not receive her formal education due to her family’s poor financial condition.
  • When she was 3 years old, her father noticed her ability to do quick calculations and remember numbers while he was playing card games with her.
  • At the age of 5, she started calculating cube roots.
  • When her father recognised her talent, he took her on the road shows and displayed her talent of doing quick calculations.
  • Soon, Shakuntala started earning money by showcasing her talent.
  • At the age of six, Shakuntala displayed her talent to the faculty of the University of Mysore.
  • She had also demonstrated her talent at the Annamalai University, Osmania University, and the universities of Hyderabad, and Visakhapatnam.
  • In 1944, her father took her to London.
  • By 1944, Shakuntala received wide recognition and travelled to different parts of the world demonstrating her expertise in mathematics.
  • She moved to countries like the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, Sri Lanka, Italy, Canada, Russia, France, Spain, Mauritius, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
  • Once she was asked to multiply two randomly picked 13 digit numbers —7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779. She gave the correct answer within 28 seconds. This incident booked her place in the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ in 1982.
  • At the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, USA, Shakuntala was asked to calculate the 23rd root of a 201-digit number. She solved the problem within 50 seconds, 10 seconds before the Univac computer could solve it.
  • Shakuntala had written many books on astrology, mathematics for children, puzzles, cookbooks, and novels.
  • She had even penned down ‘The World of Homosexuals,’ the first comprehensive study of homosexuality in India.
  • Shakuntala had opened Shakuntala Devi Education Foundation Public Trust to aid the underprivileged kids to attain quality education.
  • Google honoured her with a Google Doodle for her achievements on her 84th birthday on 4 November 2013.
  • A deep research on her abilities was carried out by the psychology professor, Arthur Jensen, from the University of California. He has mentioned the outcomes in the academic journal “Intelligence.”
  • Shakuntala had attended a convent school for 3 months and then expelled out because of non-payment of her school fees.
  • She had featured on the BBC show where the host, Leslie Mitchell, presented her a complex math problem. Shakuntala solved the problem within a few seconds but the host said that her answer was incorrect as it didn’t match the answer which was calculated by their team. Later, the host realised that Shakuntala’s answer was correct. After the incident got spread across the world she was titled as the “Human Computer.”
  • A biopic on her life is slated to release in 2020 in which the Bollywood actress, Vidya Balan will be portraying her character.

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