Remembering Shakuntala Devi, the “Human Computer”, on her 91st Birth Anniversary

Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala Devi (4 November 1929 – 21 April 2013) was an Indian writer and mental calculator, popularly known as the “Human Computer”. Devi strove to simplify numerical calculations for students. On 18 June 1980, she 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 correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. Her talent earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records. However, the certificate for the record was given posthumously on 30 July 2020. She could also tell the day of the week of any given date in the last century spontaneously. Devi was a precocious child and when she turned six, Shakuntala Devi demonstrated her calculation skills in her first major public performance at the University of Mysore. Two years later, she also showcased her talent at Annamalai University. Devi wrote a number of books in her later years, including novels as well as texts about mathematics, puzzles, and astrology. Astrology for you, Book of numbers, Figuring: The joy of numbers, In the wonderland of numbers, Mathability: Awaken the math genius in your child, More puzzles to puzzle you, Puzzles to puzzle you, Super memory: It can be yours and The world of homosexuals are some of her works. The book The World Of Homosexuals, which is considered the first study of homosexuality in India. She saw homosexuality in a positive light and is considered a pioneer in the field.