Rahul Muralikrishnan believes his late father – with whom he shared a love for maths – would have been quite proud of his achievement.

Rahul Muralikrishnan from Bangalore stands next to the subtraction of 100 digit numbers
news Record Saturday, July 11, 2020 - 11:41

June 21 was a significant day for Rahul Muralikrishnan. That was the day when the Bengaluru-based 23-year-old set the record for the fastest subtraction of 100-digit numbers – something he had been practising over the four months of the lockdown. Rahul solved the math problem, given to him by Official World Record, a register for different kinds of global records, in 54.89 seconds.

“During my practice sessions, I was averaging 45-50 seconds for 100-digit subtractions. So while I was happy that I got it right in the first go, and within 60 seconds, which was the limit, I was a little disappointed,” says Rahul.

The event is even more special for Rahul because of his father, who passed away in February this year. They both shared a love for numbers and mathematics. Rahul had come across Official World Records in December last year, and had mentioned it to his father, who initially said it was impossible.

Rahul came home from Gurugram, where he is pursuing Postgraduate Diploma in Risk Management, shortly after his father’s demise. When the lockdown was announced, he started considering setting a record seriously. 

While the engineering graduate has always loved maths and numbers, and learnt abacus as a student, he did struggle. “Usually, when I see numbers, the abacus beads start moving in my head. For practice, I started with 10-digit subtractions, then moved to 20 and 30 digits, and so on. Initially, it was tough, because the numbers wouldn’t make sense in my head and my hands wouldn’t write as quickly as I wanted them to. But it improved with practice,” he tells TNM.

Rahul practised this along with online classes for his PG course. “I was very focused, though time was tough to manage sometimes. Preparing for the record took precedence for me above everything else… perhaps because of my father,” he says, adding, “He thought it would be impossible. I guess I wanted to prove him wrong and make him proud.”

It was even more serendipitous when he learnt on June 21 that it was Father’s Day. 

On that day, everything happened over Zoom, a video conferencing platform. The whole family was involved. The judges said the digits out loud and Rahul’s mother carefully wrote them on a long piece of paper pasted on to a wall. Rahul’s brother held up the laptop. After the subtraction, he and Rahul moved through the length of the paper with the webcam turned towards it so that judges could see the answer. Finally, when they learnt Rahul had got it right, the family broke into cries of “Yes!” and applause. Rahul’s mother got quite emotional and teary-eyed, too.

So what’s next? Rahul says that maybe after a year or so, he will try setting another record. “I won’t try to break my own record because there won’t be that element of surprise again – unless someone breaks it first, and then I have to break their record,” he laughs.