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What's This?Carl Friedrich Gauss (30 April 1777 – 23 February 1855) was a German mathematician and physical scientist who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics.

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Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He combined scientific theory and practice like no other before him, or since, and even as a young man Gauss made extraordinary contributions to mathematics. His Disquisitiones arithmeticae, published in 1801, stands to this day as a true masterpiece of scientific investigation.

Together with Wilhelm Weber, Gauss invented the first electric telegraph. In recognition of his contributions to the theory of electromagnetism, the international unit of magnetic induction is the gauss.

He made fundamental contributions to number theory, for which he invented the theory of congruences, a basic tool to this day. His theorems on line and surface integrals lie at the heart of modern physics and are essential for understanding electromagnetism. Gauss was one of the discoverers of non-Euclidean geometry.

When Gauss was 18, he found a way to construct the regular with seventeen sides, using only a straightedge and a compass. This had been thought impossible until then.

In astronomy, he calculated the orbits of the small planets Ceres and Pallas by a new method. He invented the heliotrope for trigonometric determination of the Earth's shape.

As a student he made major discoveries, including the Method of Least Squares and the discovery of how to construct the regular 17-gon. The latter result was highly significant.

Gauss went on to be awarded a Doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Helmstedt in 1799, with a thesis which proved that every rational integer function of one variable can be resolved into real factors of the first or second degree.

He also did some work on magnetism, which is why you might have seen his name on a magnet: the Gauss is a unit used to measure magnetic field.

His father had wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a mason. He was not supportive of Gauss's schooling in mathematics and science. Gauss was primarily supported by his mother in this effort and by the Duke of Braunschweig.

Although his family was poor and working class, Gauss' intellectual abilities attracted the attention of the Duke of Brunswick, who sent him to the Collegium Carolinum at 15, and then to the prestigious University of Göttingen (which he attended from 1795 to 1798).

Gauss was born to a poor, uneducated family in Brunswick, Germany, on 30 April 1777. He taught himself how to read and do calculations.1 One story tells of a young Gauss who impressed his teacher by quickly adding the integers from 1 to 100. It is also said that the young Gauss realized an error in his father's pay calculations.

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss reportedly believed that there had been only three 'epoch-making' mathematicians: Archimedes, Newton, and one of his own students. While there is puzzlement as to why Gauss would accord this singular honor to his student, many would Gauss himself, sometimes referred to as the "prince of mathematics", the rightful third member of his list.