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Karl Friedrich Gauss

Child Mathematical Genius

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Background:

Karl Friedrich Gauss was born in Brunswick, Germany in 1777. Gauss studied mathematics at the University of Göttingen from 1795 to 1798. He became the Director of the Gottingen Observatory from 1807 until his death. His father was a manual laborer but noticed his son's talents quite early. It has been said that Karl displayed incredible talent in math at a very young age. There are stories that tell of him managing his father's business accounts before the age of 5 and apparently even catching a payroll error. When a teacher asked him to add up the numbers between 1 and 100, (to keep him busy) Gauss quickly found a short cut for the answer 5050. A well known today....thanks to Gauss. He called mathematics "the queen of the sciences" and arithmetic "the queen of mathematics.Gauss had three children.

Contributions:

  • At 24 years of age, he wrote a book called Disquisitines Arithmeticae, which is regarded today as one of the most influential books written in math.
  • He also wrote the first modern book on number theory, and proved the law of quadratic reciprocity.
  • In 1801, Gauss discovered and developed the method of least squares fitting, 10 years before Legendre, unfortunately, he didn't publish it.
  • Gauss proved that every number is the sum of at most three triangular numbers and developed the algebra of congruences.
  • Famous Quote:

    'Ask her to wait a moment - I am almost done.' Apparently said while working, and being informed that his wife was dying.

    Recommended Reads

    Combination of Observations Least Subject to Error by Karl Gauss This is the first translation in English of two of Gauss' memoirs on least squares, that was initially published in 1820. It contains his final, definitive treatment of the area along with material on probability, statistics, numerical analysis, and geodesy, presented in the original French and in English on facing pages. An afterword by Stewart places Gauss' contributions in historical perspective. Of interest to engineers, statisticians, mathematicians, computer scientists, and historians.

    Remarkable Mathematicians Author Ioan profiles 60 famous mathematicians who were born between 1700 and 1910 and provides insight to their remarkable lives and their contributions to the field of math. This text is organized chronologically and provides interesting information about the details of the mathematicians lives.

    One of my favorite things to do in the classroom is to ask the students to add all the numbers between 1 and 100 (including 1 and 100)to see how they solve the problem. It has been said that Carl Gauss' teacher asked him to to this and within minutes he had the solution. Carl simply added the pairs of numbers and said, there must be 50 pairs of the same number. For instance, 99 + 2 = 101, 98 + 3 = , from there he deduced that 50 pairs of 101 mean that the answer was 5050.

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