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Quoting from the Wikipedia article on G. H. Hardy (emphasis mine):

Starting in 1914, he was the mentor of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, a relationship that has become celebrated.[3][4] Hardy almost immediately recognized Ramanujan's extraordinary albeit untutored brilliance, and Hardy and Ramanujan became close collaborators. In an interview by Paul Erdős, when Hardy was asked what his greatest contribution to mathematics was, Hardy unhesitatingly replied that it was the discovery of Ramanujan. He called their collaboration "the one romantic incident in my life."[3][5]

I am curious to read this interview of one giant by another. After some Internet search, I found that the paragraph is taken from an encyclopedia entry on, but unsurprisingly it cites no references for the said interview.

Have you heard about or read this interview before? Is it available online?


[3.] The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan.

[4.] 20th Century Mathematics – Hardy and Ramanujan.

[5.] Freudenberger, Nell (16 Sep 07). Lust for Numbers. The New York Times.

I am including the references because these are referred to in the quoted paragraph. However apparently -- this is just my guess -- none of them mentions the interview.

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I'm not sure this is an appropriate question for this forum, but it seemed to be of some interest to mathematicians. :-) – Srivatsan Nov 29 '11 at 2:44
I'm not sure how Erdős fits into this, but... – J. M. Nov 29 '11 at 2:47
...and there is this, too. – J. M. Nov 29 '11 at 2:49
Well, the first link I gave is the place where "one romantic incident in my life" first appeared, I believe. – J. M. Nov 29 '11 at 2:52
Interesting, the comment by Hardy is well-known, perhaps he made it several times. The association with Erdős was not known to me. It reminds me of other well-known historical facts about mathematicians: A copied it from B, who copied it from C, who copied it from D, who made it up. – André Nicolas Nov 29 '11 at 3:07
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Erdos conducting an interview - seems unlikely to me. Kanigel, page 358, writes,

Paul Erdos has recorded that when Hardy was asked about his greatest contribution to mathematics, he unhesitatingly replied, "The discovery of Ramanujan."

A footnote traces this to $\it The Hindu$, 19 December 1987.

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I can't believe I didn't see through the claim made by that "encyclopedia". This does make a lot more sense :). Thanks! – Srivatsan Nov 29 '11 at 3:09
@Srivatsan: Entries on "" are almost always copies of older versions of Wikipedia articles. You shouldn't rely on that website. :-) – ShreevatsaR Nov 29 '11 at 3:55

I've found the source of this interview.

It's in Paul Erdos' biography by Paul Hoffman, " The Man Who Love Only Numbers"(1998). Starting from page 78, the book describes Erdos left Hungary for Cambridge in 1934 due to the raging Hungarian Fascism. It was at Cambridge, the second day of his arrival, that he met G. H. Hardy, and inquired him about Ramanujan.

The quote "Erdos asked Hardy what his most important contribution to mathematics was. 'The discovery of Ramanujan,' " appeared at the bottom of page 82.

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