## Johann Karl Friedrich Gauss

Johann Karl Friedrich Gauss, 1777-1855, German
mathematician and physicist.
Although Gauss made many contributions to applied science,
especially electricity
and magnetism, pure
mathematics was his first love: he called mathematics "the queen of the
sciences" and arithmetic "the queen of mathematics." His
influence on mathematics was as significant to nineteenth-century
science as Newton's had been to the
science of the eighteenth century.

Gauss studied mathematics at the University of Göttingen
from 1795 to 1798, and received his
doctorate for a proof of an algebraic theorem which had long
eluded definitive proof. His *Disquisitiones arithmeticae*
appeared when he was only twenty-four, and in his development of
the idea of complex numbers revolutionized number theory and
Euclidean geometry.

Gauss applied many of his mathematical insights in the field of
astronomy by successfully
using the method of least squares to predict the location of the
asteroid Ceres in 1801. He described his
methods at length in *Theoria motus corporum coelestium* (1809).

In 1803 Gauss turned
down an offered professorship in St. Petersburg, becoming
instead a professor of astronomy at the University of
Göttingen in 1807.

In 1820 Gauss made
important inventions and discoveries in geodesy, the study of the
shape and size of the earth, and in statistics, in which he
developed the idea of the bell curve and normal distribution. In
the 1830s he developed theories of non-Euclidean geometry and
mathematical techniques for studying the physics of fluids.