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Friday, December 09, 2016

The human computer...who is she?

* In 1977 in USA she competed with a computer to see who gives the cube root of 188132517 faster, she won. That same year, at the Southern Methodist University she was asked to give the 23rd root of a 201-digit number; she answered in 50 seconds. Her answer—546,372,891—was confirmed by calculations done at the U.S. Bureau of Standards by the Univac 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation.
* On June 18, 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. This event is mentioned in the 1982 Guinness Book of Records.
* In 1988 she returned to the US to have her abilities studied by Arthur Jensen, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Jensen tested her performance at several tasks, including the calculations of large numbers; Examples of the problems presented to Devi were calculating the cube root of 61,629,875, and the seventh root of 170,859,375. Jensen reported that Devi was able to provide the solution to the aforementioned problems (the answers being 395 and 15 respectively) before Jensen was able to copy them down in his notebook. Jensen published his findings in the academic journal Intelligence in 1990.
She is the human computer, Shakuntala Devi from Bangalore, India who is honoured by Google on her 84th birthday (she died in April 2013).

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