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A mathemagician at 76

What is the result of 39122 multiplied by 97531 or 24681 minus 13579? While most of would reach for our calculators to do the sums or even a PC, Mauli Buch witnessed LS Doshi giving answers to some tough posers within a minute.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2008 23:23 IST
Mauli Buch

What is the result of 39122 multiplied by 97531 or 24681 minus 13579?

While most of would reach for our calculators to do the sums or even a PC (as the average handheld calculator lacks adequate space to display the result), 76-year-old LS Doshi has no such problem.

This resident of Vile Parle (W) in the city can solve these and many other difficult sums in less than a minute. A lawyer by profession but a mathematician by hobby, there is no sum difficult for him. Ask him the cube root of any nine-digit number or more, he has the answer on the tip of his tongue.

The word ‘human calculator’ is an understatement because he has answers to the most complicated of math puzzles. All this done without any electronic device. Doshi has no formal training.

So what is the trick after all? Doshi said, “It is a science and how I arrive at the solutions is almost inexplicable. It cannot be mastered in a day, it has to be set in your system over time.”

He attributes this skill to the penchant for solving puzzles appearing in publications since he was a child. “I was so fascinated by Maths that I used to solve every single puzzle that I came across, no matter how big or small,” added Doshi.

Born in Lakhtar, a small village in interior Gujarat, Doshi was brought up in Karachi, where his father worked as a laundry manager. He came to Mumbai in September 1947 as a refugee after the Partition.

Doshi gets nostalgic about his life in Karachi. “The term ‘Ramrajya’ can be aptly used to describe Karachi in those days. I studied in a school named Sharda Mandir, the foundation stone of which was laid by Mahatma Gandhi. I remember of attending a lecture by Shakuntala Devi, a famed mathematician, which made me all the more interested in Maths. I could solve almost all the puzzles that she could which made me all the more confidant,” reminisced Doshi.

A retired advocate, he has been lecturing on Maths. “I don’t want children to fear this wonderful subject. I want them to learn the tricks of the subject,” he said. Doshi can be reached on 26280501.