If you are wondering if there are people who can preform mental math calculation faster than a computer (well, not really the computers today of course), you will not be disappointed.
Below are some of the known mental math calculators in the past 200 years.
The 6 Stunning Mental Math Calculators
1. Shakuntala Devi (November 4, 1929 – April 21, 2013)
Shakuntala Devi was considered as a “Human Computer.” In 1977, she computed the cube root of 188138517 faster than a computer. In the same year, when asked the 23d root of a 201-digit number, she answered correctly in 50 seconds.
In 1980, she multiplied two 13-digit numbers in 28 seconds.
2. Priyanshi Somani (born 16 November 1998)
Somani was the winner of the Mental Calculation World Cup 2010, where she was the youngest participant. She was the only participant who has done 100% accuracy in Addition, Multiplication, Square Root till date in all five Mental Calculation World Cup.
On January 3, 2012, he became a world record holder in calculating square root mentally. She calculated 10 square root problems all with 6 digits in 2 minutes and 43 seconds. All problems were calculated up to 8 significant digits.
3. Zera Colburn (September 1, 1804 – March 2, 1839)
Zera Colburn was a child prodigy in mental math calculation. At the age of 7, it took him 6 seconds to calculate the number of hours in 38 years, 2 months, and seven days. He was able to solve the Fermat number 2^32 + 1. He was able to determine using his head that 4,294,967,297 is not prime and its divisor was 641.
Many individuals and institutions offered free education to Zerah, but his father refused all of them. His father capitalized on his talent by taking Zerah around the US and later to England, Scotland, Ireland and France.
Colburn was also good in languages. When his father died, he returned to the US and studied languages. He became a professor of langues in Norwhich University, Vermont.
4. John Von Neumann (December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957)
John Von Neumann was an American mathematician who was born in Hungary. He was a child prodigy in language, memorization, and mathematics. At age 6 years old, he could divide 8 digit numbers in his head. At age 8, he was familiar with differential and integral calculus.
At the age of 15, he studied advanced calculus and at age 19 published two major mathematical papers.
Von Neumann became one of the most prolific mathematicians in his lifetime. He has made numerous contributions in mathematics, physics, computer science, economics, and statistics.
5. Truman Henry Safford (6 January 1836 – 13 June 1901)
At the age of 9, he squared (365,365,365,365,365,365)^2 in less than a minute. At the same, he also developed his own method of calculating the rising and setting of the moon.
Safford studied Astronomy and became the second director of Hopkins Observatory at Williams College, the oldest observatory in the United States.
6. Jerry Newport (born August 19, 1948)
Newport won four of the 10 events, as well as a second and a third in two events in the 2010 Mental Calculation World Cup in Magdeburg Germany. He also won the World Cup Trophy for the “Most Versatile Calculator.”
Note that many mathematicians can mental math calculation when they were young. The list above are those who are primarily known for their calculating skills.