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## GAUSS, C.F.(1777-1855)

 A man of awesome mathematical stature and talent, Carl Friedrich Gauss straddled the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries like a mathematical Colossus of Rhodes.    He is universally regarded as the greatest mathematician of the nineteenth century and, along with Archimedes and Isaac Newton, as one of the three greatest mathematicians of all time.  Carl was born in Brunswick, Germany, in 1777.   His Father was a hardworking laborer with stubborn and unappreciative views of education.    His mother however, though uneducated herself, encouraged the boy in his studies and maintained a lifelong pride in her son's achievements. Carl was one of those remarkable infant prodigies who appear from time to time.   It is said that at the age of three he detected an arithmetic error in his father's bookkeeping.  There is a story that when Carl was ten years old and in the public schools, his teacher, to keep the class occupied. set the pupils to adding the numbers through 100.   Almost immediately, Carl placed his slate on the annoyed teacher's desk.  When all the slates were finally turned in, the amazed teacher found that Carl alone had the correct answer, 5050, but with no accompanying calculation.   Carl had mentally summed the arithmetic progression 1 + 2 + 3 + · · · + 98 + 99+ 100 by noting that 100+1=101, 99 + 2 = 101, 98 + 3 = 101, and so on for fifty such pairs, whence the answer is 50¡¿101, or 5050.  Later in life, Gauss used to claim jocularly that he could figure before he could talk.     It has been said that it was Gauss discovery, at the age of nineteen, that a regular polygon of seventeen sides can be constructed with straightedge and compasses that decided him to devote his life to mathematics.     Gauss' greatest single publication is his Disquisitiones arithmeticae, a work of fundamental importance in the modern theory of numbers.     Gauss made notable contributions to astronomy, geodesy, and electricity.   In 1801, he calculated, by a new procedure and from meager data, the orbit of the then recently discovered planetoid Ceres and in the following year, that of the planetoid Pallas.   In 1807, he became professor of mathematics and director of the observatory at Gottingen, a post that he held until his death.  In 1821, he carried out a triangulation of Hanover, measured a meridional arc, and invented the heliotrope (or heliograph).    In 1831, he commenced collaboration with his colleague Wilhelm Weber(1804-1891)in basic research in electricity and magnetism; in 1833, the two scientists devised the electromagnetic telegraph.     In 1812, in a paper on hypergeometric series, Gauss made the first systematic investigation of the convergence of a series. Gauss masterpiece on surface theory, his Disquisitiones generales circa superficies curvas,appeared in 1827, and inaugurated the study of the intrinsic geometry of surfaces in space.     Famous is Gauss' assertion that "mathematics is the queen of the sciences and the theory of numbers is the queen of mathematics."   Gauss has been described as "the mathematical giant who from his lofty heights embraces in one view the stars and the abysses."   In his scientific writing, Gauss was a perfectionist.  Claiming that a cathedral is not a cathedral until the last piece of scaffolding is removed, he strove to make each of his works complete, concise, polished and convincing with every trace of the analysis by which he reached his results removed.     Gauss died in his home at the Gottingen Observatory on February 23, 1855, and right after, the King of Hanover ordered that a commemorative medal be prepared in honor of Gauss.   This seventy-millimeter medal was in time(1877) completed by the well-known sculptor and medalist, Friedrich Brehmer, of Hanover.  On it appears the inscription: Georgius V. rex Hannoverge Mathematicorum principi (George V. King of Hanover to the Prince of mathematicians)