Monday, March 13, 2006

Quadratic Forms, Ramanujan and Bhargava - The Legacy Goes On ..

The current issue of Science News carries an article on the advancements in the study of universal quadratic forms led by Professor Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University. Professor Bhargava described these landmark results while delivering the Third Ramanujan Commemoration Lecture at SASTRA University, Kumbakonam, on December 22. Bhargava's work is being looked upon as an work of ingenuity and a significant progress towards the complete resolution of Ramanujan's problem of universal quadratic forms. The article, along with all references, is a fabulous read !!


The biography of the publication contains a sidenote on Professor Bhargava, himself an avid musician and an exponent of the art of Tabla. The note ends with:

Both number theory and tabla playing may be viewed as the study of patterns, Bhargava says. "The goal of every number theorist and every tabla player," he explains, "is to combine these patterns, carefully and creatively, so that they flow as a sequence of ideas, tell a story, and form a complete and beautiful piece."

Compare this to what Brain Marick says in his "Little Ruby" book (refer to my earlier post on Software Abstraction) - "In computation, simple rules combine to allow complex possibilities."

I guess it is this basic idea of composition, the ability to combine small integral units to form the big piece, is what makes a beautiful design - be it the forms of numbers, bridges and buildings of Alexander or an elegant piece of software module.

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