Human Calculators

Shakuntala Devi – The Human Computer

Last Updated on June 13, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Shakuntala Devi
Shakuntala Devi


Shakuntala Devi has the ability to solve complex mathematic equations with using nothing else but her mind.


Shakuntala Devi was born in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on 4 November 1929.

Early Life

Shakuntala is known to be a child prodigy.
Her abilities were discovered when she, just as a three year old, memorized a whole shuffled deck of cards during one of her father's magic shows.
Recognizing her talent, her magician father took her with him to magic shows where he displayed her mathematical ability.
The young Shakuntala never received any type of education whatsoever, given the fact that her family's financial situation was not the greatest.
Despite her lack of education, she is said to be one of the best, if not the best mathematical mind of her time.
Of course, her amazing ability instantly received recognition, and with that she demonstrated her abilities in multiple universities across India.

About Shakuntala Devi

Shakuntala travelled across the whole world displaying her abilities, as many educational institutions invited her to.
She had a tour of her arithmetic talents in Europe in 1950, as well as a performance in New York City in the year 1976.
Some of her jaw breaking calculations include calculating the 23rd root of a 201 number in just 50 seconds. Since this happened in 1977, computers weren't designed for such large calculations. For the answer to be confirmed, a special program had to be written for the calculation. Naturally, Shakuntala's calculation was proven correct.
Other calculations she had done is multiplying two 13-digit numbers, which she did in 28 seconds. Also, the numbers were picked at random.
Apart from her arithmetic abilities, she also proved successful as an astrologist and author. She had also written many puzzles and mathematic textbooks for children, so they could better understand mathematics and numbers, as well as develop love and appreciation for them.
Throughout her life, she strived to simplify math for students.
She has also written a book on homosexuality: “The World of Homosexuals”, which is one of her most significant books, even though it went quite unnoticed at the time. She wrote this book upon the realization that her husband is a homosexual, which sparked her interest on the subject. The book was a call for decriminalization and acceptance of homosexuality, which undoubtedly makes her a pioneer given the time in which this book was published (1977).

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Genetic Or Learned

Her talent was discovered when she was only three years old.
She never received formal education.
With all of the facts we learned until now, her ability is genetic and she was born with it, though surely, as she grew older she learned more and her ability became stronger and stronger. She kept training her mind – from numbers in phone books to prices at a grocery store, she always had numbers in her head, calculating and playing with them, becoming more and more extraordinary day after day.

Guinness World Records

  • With her light-speeding calculations, Shakuntala earned her place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.

Names Known By

  • The Human Calculator


Books Published

  • Astrology for You
  • Book of Numbers
  • Figuring: The Joy of Numbers
  • In the Wonderland of Numbers
  • Mathability: Awaken the Math Genius in Your Child
  • Puzzles to Puzzle You
  • More Puzzles to Puzzle You
  • Perfect Murder
  • Super Memory: It Can Be Yours
  • The World of Homosexuals