Known for his achievement in number theory, Godfrey Harold “G. H.” Hardy was an eminent twentieth century English mathematician. He also expanded the domain of mathematical analysis. Moreover, he is credited for developing the field population genetics and forwarding the Hardy-Weinberg principle. His other contributions to mathematics include the essay, A Mathematician’s Apology (1940), on the aesthetics of mathematics.
Godfrey Harold Hardy was born on 7 February 1877 in Cranleigh, Surrey, England to the parents who were both teachers. Both his parents had inclination towards mathematics. From an early age natural affinity for mathematics was palpable in Hardy. He wrote down numbers up to millions when he was barely a toddler. When taken to church he would factorize the hymns. It would not be wrong to call him a mathematical prodigy. He attended Cranleigh School and upon his remarkable mathematical performance he was offered a scholarship to Winchester College. Afterwards, he was enrolled into Trinity College, Cambridge.
He was mentored by Robert Alfred Herman and stood fourth in the Mathematics Tripos examination. However, later he tried abolishing the Tripos system which he felt had lost its purpose. Moreover, he became a member of an elite intellectual secret society, the Cambridge Apostles. Hardy believed that what stimulated propensity toward mathematics was the study of Camille Jordan’s Cours d’analyse de l’École Polytechnique. Jordan’s work familiarized him with European traditional precise mathematics. He was awarded a fellowship when he cleared the second Tripos test. A Master’s of Arts degree was conferred upon him in 1903, which was considered the highest academic degree at that time. In 1906, he accepted the position as a lecturer at Cambridge, while he continued his research work.
After thirteen years at Cambridge, Hardy left it to take the Savilian Chair of Geometry at Oxford. Subsequently, in an academic exchange with Oswald Veblen he joined Princeton in 1928. In 1931, he returned to Cambridge as a Sadleirian Professor and remained there until his death. His rigorous research reformed British mathematics which was previously witnessed in German, French and Swiss mathematician’s work. Most British mathematician laid stress on applied mathematics. Reading French mathematician’s work, Hardy was influenced by the cours d’analyse methods dominant in France. It also rendered him to promote the conception of pure mathematics.
Two of the most monumental works of Hardy were mathematical analysis and analytic number theory. He collaborated with John Edensor Littlewood to work on these projects. They proved prime number results and conditional results which were of primary importance in number theory. Hardy–Littlewood circle method came forward from their joint work and they are considered the most illustrious duo to collaborate in mathematical history. Aside from the number theory, Hardy is highly recognized for formulating the Hardy–Weinberg principle. It is a basic principle of population genetics which Wilhelm Weinberg and he worked on.
It was G.H. Hardy’s preference that his work is to be considered pure mathematics. It has been speculated that the reason behind it is his disdain for the application of mathematics in the warfare instead of utilizing it for humanity. His another one of famous collaboration was with Ramanujan and with whom he created the Hardy–Ramanujan asymptotic formula. It is applied as to derive quantum partition functions of atomic nuclei. The Oxford University Press published his collective works in seven volumes.