You are on page 1of 8

THE REMAINING 40% OF RAMANUJAN’S LOST NOTEBOOK

Bruce C. Berndt

To provide the setting for the material discussed in the sequel, we briefly describe
the history of Ramanujan’s lost notebook. It will be convenient to begin in the year
1976 and then proceed backward.
In the spring of 1976, George Andrews visited Trinity College, Cambridge, to
examine the papers left by G. N. Watson. Among Watson’s papers, he found a
manuscript containing 138 pages in the handwriting of Ramanujan. In view of
the fame of Ramanujan’s notebooks, published in a photocopy edition by the Tata
Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay in 1957 [14], it was natural to call this
newly found manuscript “Ramanujan’s lost notebook.” How did this manuscript
reach Trinity College?
Watson died in 1965 at the age of 79. Shortly thereafter, on separate occasions,
J. M. Whittaker and R. A. Rankin visited Mrs. Watson. The late J. M. Whit-
taker was a physicist and son of E. T. Whittaker, who coauthored with Watson
probably the most popular and frequently used text on analysis in the 20th cen-
tury [25]. Rankin, who has been at the University of Glasgow for many years, had
succeeded Watson as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Birmingham,
where Watson served for most of his career. Both Whittaker and Rankin went to
Watson’s attic office to examine the papers left by him, and both found the afore-
mentioned manuscript by Ramanujan. Rankin suggested to Mrs. Watson that her
late husband’s papers be sorted and sent to Trinity College Library, Cambridge, for
preservation. During the next three years, Rankin sent Watson’s papers, including
the Ramanujan manuscript, sent on 26 December 1968, in batches to Trinity’s li-
brary. Rankin had not realized the importance of Ramanujan’s manuscript and so
did not mention it to anyone. In particular, he did not reveal the manuscript’s ex-
istence in his obituary [17] of Watson written for the London Mathematical Society.
Thus, the next question is: How did Watson come into possession of this sheaf of
138 pages of Ramanujan’s work?
After Ramanujan died in 1920, G. H. Hardy strongly urged that Ramanujan’s
published papers, notebooks, and other unpublished work be collected together for
publication. A handwritten copy of Ramanujan’s notebooks [14] was shipped from
the University of Madras to Hardy in 1923, and at the same time other manuscripts
and papers of Ramanujan were also sent. There apparently is no record of precisely
what was included in this shipment. Thus, most likely, the lost notebook was sent
to Hardy in 1923.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Watson wrote almost 40 papers on the work of Ra-
manujan, most of them arising from either Ramanujan’s letters to Hardy or from
Ramanujan’s notebooks. In particular, he wrote on Ramanujan’s mock theta func-
tions, which Ramanujan discovered in the last year of his life and described in a
Typeset by AMS-TEX
1

Sen–Shan Huang. as well as other manuscripts left by Ramanujan [18]. Since many identities involving mock theta functions appear in the lost notebook. Hardy passed Ramanujan’s manuscript to Watson. b) := an(n+1)/2 bn(n−1)/2 . Wen–Chin Liaw. 1) = q n(n+1)/2 . BERNDT letter to Hardy only about three months before he died [7. it is certain that the lost notebook arises from the last year of Ramanujan’s life. Jaebum Sohn. b). We cite just one of his papers [1]. This 40% (as well as the other 60%) is of great interest to the present author. In the remainder of this paper. Shortly thereafter. For example. and Liang–Cheng Zhang. pp. Rankin wrote a very interesting paper on the origin and content of the lost notebook. About 60% of the approximately 650 claims made by Ramanujan in his lost notebook pertain to mock theta functions and other q–series. q)∞ := (1 − aq n ). Much of the research on these entries is being conducted with the author’s recent and current graduate students. Finally. |q| < 1. integrals of theta functions. and other continued fractions are some of the topics found in the lost notebook. incomplete elliptic integrals of the first kind. is defined by ∞ X (1) f (a. Wat- son had made some conjectures on the existence of certain mock theta functions. in particular. If he had had in his possession the lost notebook. theta function identities. 220–223]. The remaining 40% is devoted mostly to topics examined by Ramanujan in the ordinary notebooks. for example. Soon–Yi Kang. Included in the edition are a few other unpublished manuscripts by Ramanujan as well as letters between Ramanujan and Hardy. which provides some of the lost notebook’s history that we have related above. Narosa Publishing House in New Delhi published a photocopy edition of the lost notebook [16]. in early 1988. we briefly describe some of these results. the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction. the three most important special cases of (1) are ∞ X 2 ϕ(q) :=f (q. Heng Huat Chan. probably sometime after Watson’s interest in Ra- manujan’s work waned in the late 1930s. n=0 Ramanujan’s general theta function f (a. but before his death in 1947. just after the centenary of Ramanujan’s birth. modular equations. 21]. n=−∞ In Ramanujan’s notation. Thus. Seung Hwan Son. he would have seen that his conjectures were correct. |ab| < 1. Definitions As customary. n=−∞ X∞ 1 ψ(q) := f (q. Chap. which has the same generality as the general classical theta function. as found in [25. set ∞ Y (a. Eisenstein series. Most of these results have now been proved by Andrews.2 BRUCE C. q) = qn . 2 n=0 .

262. q)∞ =: q −1/24 η(τ ). then √ √ 5 (1 + 5)f (−q 2 ) ϕ(q) + 5ϕ(q ) = Y ¡ ¢ Y ¡ ¢. q 2 )∞ . For example. 1 − k2 1 − 4k − k 2 . The Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction R(q) is defined by 1 q5 q q2 q3 (4) R(q) := . and η denotes the Dedekind eta–function. q 10 )∞ ϕ2 (q) − 5ϕ2 (q 5 ) = −4f 2 (−q 2 ) . 1+k 1−k In his lost notebook. THE REMAINING 40% OF RAMANUJAN’S LOST NOTEBOOK 3 and ∞ X 2 (2) f (−q) :=f (−q. Ramanujan recorded the identity (−q 5 . q)24 ∞. µ ¶5 k 1 + k − k2 = q(−q. Ramanujan gives several other beautiful identities involving the parameter k. in his notebooks [2. µ ¶2 µ ¶ 5 1−k 5 2 2 1+k R (q) = k and R (q ) = k . 13. Entry 1]. n=−∞ where q = exp(2πiτ ). (−q. Ramanujan introduced the parameter k := R(q)R2 (q 2 ). for some positive rational number n. 1 + αq n + q 2n 1 − βq n + q 2n nodd neven √ √ (1 − 5)f (−q 2 ) ϕ(q) − 5ϕ(q 5 ) = Y ¡ ¢ Y ¡ ¢. 1 − αq n + q 2n 1 + βq n + q 2n neven nodd In his notebooks [3. −q ) = (−1)n q n(3n−1)/2 = (q. pp. and stated two elegant modular equations. Im τ > 0. for example. √ he factored this identity into the following identi- 1− 5 1+ 5 ties: If α = 2 and β = 2 . |q| < 1. Entry 10]. The Ramanujan–Weber class invariant Gn is defined by (3) Gn := 2−1/4 q −1/24 (−q. If q = exp(−π n). 12. p. Ramanujan refined or factored some of the theta function identities recorded by him in his notebooks. The penultimate equality √ in (2) is Euler’s pentagonal number theorem. q 2 )∞ On page 56 in √ his lost notebook. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + ··· Theta Function Identities In his lost notebook.

q 13 ) u = 2q 1/7 . ϕ(q 7 ) ϕ(q 7 ) ϕ(q 7 ) Equality (5) is easy to prove.4 BRUCE C. BERNDT Thus. they are given in Entry 17(iii) in Chapter 19 of Ramanujan’s second notebook [2. Ramanujan has given a beautiful paramtrization for the discrimiant function. Let ϕ(q 1/7 ) = 1 + u + v + w. q 11 ) f (q. Explicitly. but the proofs of the remaining identities are very difficult. w= . ϕ8 (q 7 ) ϕ4 (q 7 ) Furthermore. The papers by Kang [10]. q 9 ) f (q 3 . Proofs of the results cited above have been given by Kang [11]. p. . v = 2q 4/7 . which we now quote. Ramanujan gave a very strange sequence of septic identities. Although u. β γ α where α. µ ¶1/7 µ ¶1/7 µ ¶1/7 α2 p β2p γ2p u= . q 14 )7∞ and ϕ8 (q) ϕ4 (q) − (2 + 5p) + (1 − p)3 = 0. [11] and Son [20]–[23] contain proofs of several further theta function identities from the lost notebook. ∆(τ ) := q(q : q)24 ∞ . √ √ n o (6) ϕ(e−7π 7 ) = 73/4 ϕ(e−π 7 ) 1 + (−)2/7 + (−)2/7 + (−)2/7 . or did he merely conjecture that there exists a representation for ϕ(e−7π 7 ) in the form (6)? It seems to us that if Ramanujan were able to complete this entry. v= . f (q 5 . ϕ (q ) For example. v. he would have needed to know the value of the class invariant (see (3)) G343 . 303]. and which we also do not know. and w are not given by Ramanujan. ϕ(q 7 ) Then 8q 2 (−q. Did Ramanujan have explicit identifications for the three missing expressions√in (6). and w = 2q 9/7 . Son [22] has found proofs of the remaining claims. and γ are roots of the equation µ ¶ 3 2ϕ4 (q) x + 2x 1 + 3p − 4 7 + xp2 (p + 4) − p4 = 0. which apparently he did not know. q 2 )∞ (5) p = uvw = (−q 7 . Except for (6). where q = exp(2πiτ ). β. On page 206 in his lost notebook.

Beginning with the work of Gauss. THE REMAINING 40% OF RAMANUJAN’S LOST NOTEBOOK 5 Lambert Series Pages 353–357 in the publication of the lost notebook [16] comprise a summary of some of Ramanujan’s findings about Lambert series. However. f (−q 3 )f 3 (−q 5 ) then Z Z √ q 2 arctan(1/ 5) 1 dt (7) f (−t)f (−t3 )f (−t5 )f (−t15 )dt = ³ q ´q . Then the Lambert series identity ∞ ∞ 3/2 6 2 1 X (2n + 1)2 q (2n+1)/2 1 X (−1)n (2n + 1)2 q (2n+1)/2 q ψ (q ) = − 16 n=0 1 + q 2n+1 16 n=0 1 − q 2n+1 gives the corollary 1 X 1 X t6 (n) = d2 − d2 . The paper that we will write for the published proceedings of the RIMS Symposium on Number Theory will concentrate on this fragment. then the Lambert series identity X∞ 8 n3 q n ϕ (q) = 1 + 16 . Robins. We cite just one of several examples. and Wahl [12]. The first occurrences known to us are in recent papers by Kac and Wakimoto [9] and by Ono. if rk (n) denotes the number of ways of representing the positive integer n as a sum of k squares. Lambert series have been useful in deriving formulas for the number of representations of a positive integer n by certain quadratic forms. 0 5 2 arctan 1 √ 1−11v−v 2 1− 9 sin2 t 5 1+v−v 2 25 This and several other formulas in the lost notebook of the same sort were first proved by Raghavan and Rangachari [13]. For example. yields the formula X r8 (n) = 16(−1)n (−1)d d3 . and Jacobi. We have found a proof along the lines of Ramanujan’s thinking. Recall that f (−q) is defined by (2). Legendre. let tk (n) denote the number of ways that the positive integer n can be represented as a sum of k triangular numbers. n=1 1 − (−q)n due to Jacobi. If f 3 (−q)f 3 (−q 15 ) v := q 3 . their proofs partially depend . d|n Similarly. Here we cite only two examples. Incomplete Elliptic Integrals of the First Kind Some of the most amazing formulas in the lost notebook involve incomplete elliptic integrals. 8 8 d|(4n+3) d|(4n+3) d≡3 (mod 4) d≡1 (mod 4) We have been unable to find this formula in the classical literature.

pp. −λq 2/5 ) (12) P −Q=1+ . Huang in an unpublished manuscript have given more elementary proofs of (7) and (8). They were also crucially used by the author. The author. −λ15 q 10 ) f (−q. BERNDT upon ideas with which Ramanujan would not have been familiar. 439].–S. and Zhang [5] in deriving general formulas for the explicit evaluation of R(q). R(q) q f (−q 5 ) where f (−q) is defined by (2). q 1/5 f (−λ10 q 5 . q −1/5 f (−λ10 q 5 . q f 6 (−λ10 q 5 .6 BRUCE C. −λ4 q 3 )f (−λ2 q. 265–267] and were first proved by Watson [24] for the purpose of establishing some of Ramanujan’s claims about R(q) made in his first two letters to Hardy [15. 1 5 f 6 (−q) (11) − 11 − R (q) = . and R. xxviii]. Ramanujan listed three identities. Using the Rogers–Ramanujan identities. q 5 )∞ (9) q −1/5 R(q) = . Son [19] has been able to discern the identities of P. Chan. These results are found in Ramanujan’s second notebook [14. −λ20 q 13 ) (15) P = . On page 207 in his lost notebook. xxvii. The corollary. (q 2 . R5 (q) qf 6 (−q 5 ) is also very useful. q 5 )∞ (q 4 . Chan. −λ3 q 2 ) (14) P 5 − Q5 = 1 + 5P Q + 5P 2 Q2 + . The Rogers–Ramanujan Continued Fraction Recall that the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction R(q) is defined by (4). −λ15 q 10 ) . −λ15 q 10 ) without specifying the functions P and Q. dq which they quote from the treatise of Fricke [8. and so prove the following theorem. p. −λ25 q 14 ) (16) Q= . −λ20 q 11 ) − λ3 qf (−q. to prove (7). −λ15 q 10 ) λf (−λ5 q 4 . −λ15 q 10 ) f (−λ. q 5 )∞ But perhaps the most important and useful theorem about R(q) is given by the formula 1 f (−q 1/5 ) (10) − 1 − R(q) = 1/5 . Q. If f (−λ10 q 7 . f 2 (−λ10 q 5 . −λ3 q 2 ) (13) PQ = 1 − . H. In particular. As we shall see in the next paragraphs. q 1/5 f (−λ10 q 5 . pp. they used the remarkable differential equation dv p (8) = f (−q)f (−q 3 )f (−q 5 )f (−q 15 ) 1 − 10v − 13v 2 + 10v 3 + v 4 . −λ5 q 2 )f 5 (−λ2 q. we obtain the beautiful representation (q. H. f (−q 1/5 . −λ15 q 8 ) + λqf (−λ5 q 2 . and S. Ramanujan recorded two–variable generalizations of (10) and (11) in his lost notebook. q 5 )∞ (q 3 .

Brylinski. 8. Berndt. for |q| < 1 and Re q > 0. B. q f (−q ) q f (−q. C. eds. V. Bd. Huang. 1995. Boston.–Y.–S. References 1. and S. Lie Theory and Geometry (J. see [4]. Birkhäuser. Fricke. Chan. −λx6 ) + xf (−λ. Son. respectively. 1 2+q 2 + q2 2 + q3 1 q q2 q3 = . 480 (1996). Some theorems on the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction in Ramanujan’s lost notebook (to appear). Brylinski. B. and β = (−1 + 1 + 4k)/2. Berndt. H. −q 11 ) − qf (−q. London. (17) 1 k+q k + q2 k + q3 1 q q2 q3 = . H. and L. Springer–Verlag. Rankin. Kang. Kac and M. R.. Explicit evaluations of the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction. −λ2 x9 ) = . H. C. q −1/5 f (−q 5 ) f (−q 2 . 141–159. We close with a beautiful transformation for a generalization of the Rogers– Ramanujan continued fraction √ found on page 46 of the √ lost notebook. 6. using the quintuple product identity f (−x2 . G. Monthly 86 (1979). Let k ≥ 0. Math. Ramanujan’s Notebooks. Huang. Math. 4. New York. Berndt. −q ) R(q) f (−q 4 . −λx)f (−λx3 ) f (−λ2 x3 . Son. and V.–C. 7. 89–108. f (−x. in (15) and (16). C. Andrews. employing Jacobi’s triple product identity.). q 2 ) and (q 2 . (10) and (11). H. Soc. and S. if k = 2. (18). H. 5. Reine Angew. C. Soc. 1995. Amer. Die Elliptische Funktionen und ihre Anwendungen. respectively. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + ··· 2 + 2 + q + 2 + q2 + 2 + q3 + · · · For proofs of many results on the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction found in the lost notebook.–S. Part V. Integrable highest weight modules over affine superalgebras and number theory. but with a slight misprint. and Son [6]. J. Teubner. S. also found on page 46. A. 1994. from (17). Huang. Berndt. For |q| < 1. Zhang. we see that f (−q 7 . S. C. Then. London Math. see a paper by the author. −q 13 ) f (−q 2 . Leipzig. Ramanujan’s Notebooks. B. −q 3 ) 1 (17) P = 1/5 5 = 1/5 4 = . THE REMAINING 40% OF RAMANUJAN’S LOST NOTEBOOK 7 then (12)–(14) hold. The Rogers– Ramanujan continued fraction (to appear). Providence. Sohn. 1991. 1997. −q 8 ) + qf (−q 2 .. An introduction to Ramanujan’s “lost” notebook. with emphasis on results in the lost notebook. λ) = (q. Wakimoto.–L. and for a survey on the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction. H. 2. R. we see that (12) and (14) reduce to the two main identities. Part III. B. Sohn. we obtain the following elegant corollary. 3. V. 1922. New York. α = (1 + 1 + 4k)/2. 1+ 1 + 1 + 1 + ··· α + α + βq + α + βq 2 + α + βq 3 + · · · In particular. 9. −q 3 ) Since P Q = 1. By setting λ = 1. . Math. Sohn. −q 4 ) (18) Q= = = R(q). −q 14 ) q 1/5 f (−q. Guillemin. q −1 ). Ramanujan: Letters and Commentary. −λx2 ) with (x. II. Berndt. J. Berndt and R. B. and utilizing (9). C. S. E. Amer. J. B. and (2). G. Springer–Verlag. Kac. Chan.

17. 21 (1989). Raghavan and S. N. H. University of Illinois. 1409 West Green Street. Rankin. A Treatise on the Theory of Bessel Functions. Number Theory and Related Topics. S. 22.–Y. Bombay.–Y. Bull. 24. II. Ramanujan’s manuscripts and notebooks. 19. 14. 1957. Gupta and K. 18. (to appear). Kang. Rangachari. Son. Ramanujan’s formulas for the explicit evaluation of the Rogers–Ramanujan con- tinued fraction and theta–functions (to appear). Two theta function identities in Ramanujan’s lost notebook (to appear). Some theorems on the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction and associated theta function identities in Ramanujan’s lost notebook (to appear). Kang. Aequa. American Mathematical Society. 12. (to appear). Williams. 2nd ed. E. Math. T. Cambridge University Press. Septic theta function identities in Ramanujan’s lost notebook (to appear). T. Son. S. K. 351–365. On the representation of integers as sums of triangular numbers. pp. Robins.. H. 41 (1966). Notebooks (2 volumes). Some integrals of theta functions in Ramanujan’s lost notebook. A. Theorems stated by Ramanujan (VII): Theorems on continued fractions. Son. Amer. Soc. Proceedings of the Fifth Canadian Number Theory Association Meeting (R. 13. S. S. Providence. Rankin. Ramanujan. and P. Bombay. RI (to appear). 25. R. London Math. London Math. New York. J.). 1966. Soc. 15. J. Cubic identities of theta functions. H. S. A. The Lost Notebook and Other Unpublished Papers. 21. New Delhi. Math. 20. S. 50 (1995). S. Watson. Cambridge. Son. 4 (1929). Whittaker and G. 73–94. Son. Narosa. 16. George Neville Watson. S. S. S. 1989. H. R. Oxford University Press.8 BRUCE C. Ramanujan. 551–565. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. 39–48. On Ramanujan’s elliptic integrals and modular identities. Soc. Illinois 61801. Wahl.. 1962. S. 119–149. S. Chelsea. N. 11. USA E-mail address: berndt@math. Proc. 1988. Ono.uiuc. Ramanujan. BERNDT 10. 23. S. London Math. Some theta function identities related to the Rogers–Ramanujan continued fraction. The Ramanujan J. Collected Papers. Urbana.edu . Soc. S. eds. Department of Mathematics. H. Watson. G.