Skip to main content
In Brief

Google Doodle Honors 'Human Computer' Shakuntala Devi

On Nov. 4, 2013, a Google doodle commemorated what would have been Shakuntala Devi's 84th birthday. The Indian math prodigy died on April 21, 2013 at 83. (Image credit: Google screen shot)

Today's Google doodle pays tribute to an Indian woman who could perform superhuman mathematical feats, such as finding the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in just 50 seconds. Shakuntala Devi, nicknamed the "Human Computer," died earlier this year at age 83 in her hometown of Bangalore. Monday (Nov. 4) would have been her 84th birthday.

Devi's father was a trapeze artist and lion tamer in the circus who started arranging road shows to demonstrate his young daughter's incredible calculating skills. Throughout her lifetime, she toured the world, stunning audiences and beating computers. Devi landed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1982 after acing a daunting feat: multiplying two 13-digit numbers in her head, and reciting the 26-digit answer in 28 seconds flat. (That problem, by the way, was 7,686,369,774,870 x 2,465,099,745,779. The answer was 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730.)

Devi joins the ranks of other amazing minds to be honored by Google's changing doodles on its homepage, including Ada Lovelace and Nicolaus Copernicus.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+

Megan Gannon
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.