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News Entry# 288354
  
Dec 12 2016 (09:53)  This man is on a mission to demystify mathematics (www.thehindu.com)
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News Entry# 288354     
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Posted by: rdb*^  130157 news posts
You may not expect a person who has been waving green and red flags on railway platforms to do wonders with numbers. A former Station Superintendent at Koodal Nagar railway station, this man uses his fingers to weave magic. T. R. Jothilingam , a mathematics graduate, is now on a mission to make learning of arithmetic a joyful experience. On his return from Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat, where he received Ramanujan Award from All India Ramanujan Mathematics Club at Kadi Saru Vishwavidhyalaya “in recognition of esteemed service to the nation and dedication towards popularising mathematics...and efforts made to change the perception of people towards mathematics,” Mr. Jothilingam explains how he developed a passion to play with numbers and popularise play way methods of learning arithmetic, in a conversation at his residence in Pasumpon Nagar with S. Annamalai .
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from my younger days, I have had a fascination for numbers. Whenever I saw a number, especially registration numbers of vehicles, I used to play with it by addition, multiplication and division. My tryst with mathematical puzzles came at a friend’s house where I saw a magic square,” recalls Mr. Jothilingam. From then on, he started collecting mathematical puzzles and sought the help of his two sons to bring new puzzles from libraries.
During his stint as Station Master in Manamadurai, he had enough time to play with the puzzles. From solving puzzles, he graduated to creating them during this period. He started to discuss the puzzles with his sons T. J. Ramnath Babu and T. J. Raghunath Babu, who helped him in writing the software for creating new puzzles on computer.
His world of mathematical puzzles started to expand and he broke conventional barriers to come up with extraordinary puzzles. At this time, he introduced these puzzles to students and friends. His first break came when Thiagarajar College invited him to inaugurate the Maths Club. Since then, he has been visiting many institutions to induce a liking for mathematics among students.
Big magic squares
So far, Mr. Jothilingam has given lectures and conducted workshops in more than 150 schools and colleges, meeting over 35,000 students, in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. His achievements in arithmetic include big magic squares, upside down magic squares, multiplication using fingers, 10 different methods of multiplication, huge Sudokus, encripted Sudoku with names of leaders and diamond-inlaid magic squares.
According to him, available records suggest that no person has attempted these feats. He has created magic squares with the maximum numbers. The greatest reward for him is an eighth standard student, B.G. Srinivasa Babu, of N.K. Kuppaiyer Rathnamani Memorial School, which has been adopted by Mr. Jothilingam for teaching arithmetic, coming out with a magic square, starting from 1 to 27, 225. The student is doing an engineering course now. Mr. Jothilingam’s engagement with mathematics is a never-ending story.
He says all his achievements were possible because of his wife T. J. Kokila, a homemaker.
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