Gauss

Born: Apr. 30, 1777 in Brunswick, Duchy of Brunswick (now Germany)

Died: Feb 23, 1855 in Gottingen, Hanover (now Germany)

Carl Gauss studied mathematics when he was very young. When he was in school, his teacher wanted the class to add up all the numbers from one to one hundred. Carl finished in less than ten seconds because he had figured out the formula on his own!

While attending Caroline College (1792-95), Gauss discovered the least-squares method and a hypothesis on the distribution of prime numbers among all numbers. In 1896, Jacques Hadamard proved the hypothesis. During this time, Gauss did not have access to a good library on mathematics and as a result rediscovered many accepted theorems.

In 1795, when he went to Gottingen with its excellent library, Gauss discovered the basic theorem of quadratic residues, which deals with the problem of congruence in number theory. In 1796 he proved the possibility of constructing a regular 17-sided polygon using a ruler and a compass only. During his next four years, he was very productive, and ideas came to him rapidly. Nevertheless, he could pursue only some of them. The University of Helmstedt granted Gauss a Ph.D. for his essay that gave the first proof of the basic theorem of algebra in 1799.

In 1801 Gauss made two primary accomplishments. The first was the production of his "Disquisitiones Arithmeticae", an essay on number theory which continued his answers to many distinguished problems. The second was the finding of the asteroid Ceres, which had been briefly noticed in January, 1801 but had then gone from sight. Gauss calculated Ceres' orbit using an updated theory and estimated when and where Ceres would appear again. When the forecast was proved accurate, Gauss's became famous. Subsequently, he was offered a position as astronomer at the Göttingen Observatory.

Known to some as one of the founders of modern statistics, Carl Friedrich Gauss is best known for invoking the "Normal" (often referred to as "Gaussian") error distribution.

To fulfill his sense of public loyalty, Gauss undertook a geodetic study of his country did much of the work himself. In his hypothetical work on surveying, Gauss refined data he needed from differential geometry and statistics. During the 1820s, in partnership with scientist Wilhelm Weber, he explored many areas of physics, including optics, mechanics, magnetism, and acoustics. In 1833 he built the first telegraph.