Carl Friedrich Gauss

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was German mathematician and scientist. He is widely recognized for his contributions to number theory, geometry, probability theory, theory of functions, geodesy, planetary astronomy etc.

Early life

Gauss was born on April 30, 1777 in Brunswick, Germany. He was the only child of his poor, working-class parents. His father was a gardener and brick-layer. He was a harsh parent who discouraged his young son from attending school, with expectations that he would follow in his footsteps. However Gauss’ mother recognized, her son’s genius from the early age and she knew that he needs education to further develop his intelligence.


At the age of seven, Carl Friedrich Gauss started elementary school. In 1788 Gauss began his education at the Gymnasium, where he was learning High German and Latin. After receiving a stipendy from the Duke of Braunschweig, Gauss entered Collegium Carolinum in 1792. After that Gauss went to study at University of Göttingen from 1795 to 1798.


One of his first important discoveries was at the end of his college years. Gauss made a discovery that, at that time, mathematicians had believed was impossible. He found that a regular polygon with 17 sides could be drawn using just a compass and straight edge.

The first theorem he proved was the “the fundamental theorem of algebra”, which states that every algebraic equation has at least one root or solution. In 1801, Gauss published a book “Disquisitiones arithmeticae”, which it also systematized the study of number theory, and also provided proof for the above mentioned theorem.

Following the discovery of the asteroid Ceres, Gauss calculated its orbit and was able to predict its correct position on the basis of very few accurate observations.

Later life

Gauss had a total of six children, none of which went into the fields of mathematics. He was a moderately depressed man, as he never fully recovered from the deaths of his loved ones. First came of the death of his first wife, followed by his first son. Later, his second wife died after battling illness for a long time.

Carl Friedrich Gauss died on February 23, 1855 in Göttingen, Germany of natural causes, while he was in his sleep.

Carl Friedrich Gauss quotes

“It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.”

“When a philosopher says something that is true then it is trivial. When he says something that is not trivial then it is false.”

“God does arithmetic.”

“Mathematics is the queen of the sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics.”

“We must admit with humility that, while number is purely a product of our minds, space has a reality outside our minds, so that we cannot completely prescribe its properties a priori.”

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