Shakuntala Devi: The Human Computer!

The Logical Indian

October 8th, 2014



Shakuntala Devi, Popularly known as the Human Computer for her awesome ability to mentally solve complex mathematical problems.

Without any formal education as a child, Shakuntala Devi had the ability to memorize and calculate numbers mentally. An ability her circus artist father discovered while playing cards with her, when she was just three. He apparently found that she beat him not by sleight of hand, but by memorizing the cards.

In 1977 in USA, Shakuntala Devi competed with a computer to see who gives the cube root of 188132517 faster, she won.

On June 18, 1980, the Human computer, Shakuntala Devi demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. This event is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records.

With the ability to calculate the cube root of 61,629,875, and the seventh root of 170,859,375 without writing it down or using a calculator, Shakuntala Devi’s abilities were studied by Arthur Jensen, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1988.

Jensen wrote in his report that the calculation was done and answers given even before he wrote the answer in his notebook. The findings were published in the academic journal Intelligence in 1990.

In April 2013, Shakuntala Devi passed away in a hospital in Bangalore from complications of the heart and kidneys at the age of 83. Devi wrote a number of books with titles like Fun with Numbers and Puzzles to Puzzle You.

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