Shakuntala Devi: Birth and Early Life
Shakuntala Devi was born on November 4, 1929, in Bangalore, Karnataka. His father joined a circus instead of becoming a priest in the temple and worked as a trapeze artist, lion tamer, tightrope walker, and magician. When Shakuntala was 3 years old, he discovered her ability to memorize the numbers while teaching her a card trick. Soon after this discovery, his father left the circus and walked down the streets with her daughter to display her ability to the rest of the world.
Without receiving any formal education, Shakuntala at the age of 6, demonstrated her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore. In the year 1944, she moved to London with her father.
Here are 5 interesting facts about the “Human-Computer:”
1. Shakuntala Devi was only three years old when her father discovered that his child could memorize the card sequence and even calculate the next move. By the time she turned 5, she had mastered the art of solving math problems.
2. She would stay by her father side on the streets where he performed while she solved complicated Math problems in seconds. She did so with no formal education.
3. In 1944, Shakuntala and her father moved to London. Until the English media helped her become famous, she had displayed her special skills at many different institutes.
4. On October 5, 1950, Shakuntala was given a complicated math problem by the BBC host Leslie Mitchell, and she finished it within seconds. But her answer did not match the original one.
After rechecking the problem, Mitchell revealed that Shakuntala’s answer was correct while the original one was wrong. After that, the news spread globally, and Shakuntala received her title as the “Human-Computer.”
5. In 1990, a human intelligence researcher from the University of California, Berkeley, Arthur R. Jensen, described Shakuntala as being different from the character of an autistic savant who was actually a mathematical prodigy in the movie called “Rain Man” played by Dustin Hoffman.
Death and Legacy
In April 2013, Devi was admitted to a hospital in Bangalore with severe respiratory problems. Over the following two weeks she suffered from heart and kidney complications. She died in hospital on 21 April 2013. She was 83 years old. She is survived by her daughter.
On 4 November 2013, Devi was honoured with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 84th birthday.
A film on her life titled Shakuntala Devi was announced in May 2019.The film stars Vidya Balan in the lead role and features Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh, and Jisshu Sengupta. Produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions, the film streamed worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on 31 July 2020