Carl Friedrich Gauss was a prominent figure in the nineteenth century Germany for his accomplishments in the discipline of mathematics. He is known for his monumental contribution to statistics, algebra, differential geometry, mechanics, astronomy and number theory among other fields. Those who regard his work very highly often refer to him as “greatest mathematician since antiquity” and in Latin, princeps mathematicorum (the foremost of mathematicians).
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was born on 30 April 1777 in the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel into a lower class illiterate family. His mother did not record his date of birth on the account of being uneducated. He figured out the day on his own taking clues from the days she associated with his birth. There is no doubt about his being a child prodigy given his extraordinary intellect. It’s been reported that when he was eight he discovered a way to sum up all the digits from 1-100. He was a mathematically precocious child which he proved every now and then. While still in his adolescence he made a milestone of a mathematical discovery.
At the age of 21, Gauss composed his magnum opus Disquisitiones Arithmeticae. This work of his fundamentally altered the landscape of number theory in the years that followed till this day. The Duke of Brunswick found his work impressive and decided to send him to the Collegium Carolinum. He attended the university in the early 1790s while he studied at the University of Göttingen in the latter half of 90s. During his studies he independently worked out several theorems in a new light. He made a groundbreaking discovery in 1796 that polygon can be constructed by the product of distinct Fermat primes and a power of two. Turns out it was a colossal discovery in the field of mathematics which rendered Gauss to opt mathematics as his main career instead of philology. He even wished that his tombstone is to be inscribed with heptadecagon which was declined by stonemason.
Gauss embarked upon a new journey with this new development in 1796. His another key work in mathematics was the development of number theory. He simplified manipulations in number theory by making advancements in modular arithmetic. Quadratic reciprocity law was proved by him the same year, rendering him the first man to accomplish the task. Moreover, he conjectured the prime number theorem which allows a deeper understanding into the distribution of the prime numbers into the integers.
In addition to these self-made discoveries and developments, he also collaborated with the physics professor Wilhelm Weber in 1831. They worked on the project of magnetism and came up with the representing unit of mass, time and charge. Besides magnetism, they made distinct findings in Kirchhoff’s circuit laws in electricity. They pioneered the first electromechanical telegraph, connecting the institute for physics in Göttingen with the observatory. Gauss’ noteworthy work Dioptrische Untersuchungen was published in 1840. The book presents a systematic analysis on the formation of images with a paraxial approximation. Incorporating a paraxial approximation an optimal system undertakes cardinal points. Later on this discovery led to the development of Gaussian lens formula.
Furthermore, Gauss was a member of several prestigious scientific societies. He joined the Royal Institute of the Netherlands as a member in 1845. He also became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in the years that followed.