Legendary Mathematics wizard Shakuntala Devi, dubbed as the world’s fastest ‘human computer’ and who made complex mental calculations as a child prodigy, died at a hospital here today following respiratory problems.
Devi, who has enthralled fans with her prowess for decades, was 83.
“She passed away at Bangalore Hospital,” Shakuntala Devi Educational Foundation Public Trust Trustee D C Shivadev said. Doctors declared her dead at 8.15 AM, he said.
Devi was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago for critical respiratory problems, Shivadev said. “She developed heart and kidney problems later,” he added.
A household name in India, Devi cast a spell adding a 16-digit number with another one and multipliying the result with an equal array of numbers almost instantaneously, finding the cube root of the resultant and pops up with an answer in just about the time taken for a wink.
Devi, who had no formal education and who simply picked up reading and writing, had the ingenous ability to tell the day of the week of any given date in the last century in a jiffy.
“God’s gift. A divine quality,” is how Devi had once felt of her unique distinction that began showing visibility since the age of three. She has been quoted as saying that none in her family showed any signs of the same head for figures. “Not even remotely, although my dad was a stage magician.”
Rated as one in 58 million for her stupendous mathematical feats by one of the fastest super-computers ever invented–the Univac-1108–, Devi believed in using grey cells to silicon chips.
Born on November four, 1939, Devi figured in the Guiness Book of World Record for her outstanding ability and wrote numerous books like ‘Fun with Numbers’, ‘Astrology for You’, ‘Puzzles to Puzzle You’, and ‘Mathablit’.
Hailing from a simple orthodox Kannada Brahmin family, Devi’s father was a circus performer who did trapeze, tightrope and cannonball shows. He had rebelled against becoming a temple priest.