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Gauss was born Poor and a Child Prodigy

Carl Friedrich Gauss

Carl Friedrich Gauss was born on 30 April 1777 in Germany, to poor, working-class parents. His mother was illiterate and never recorded the date of his birth, remembering only that he had been born on a Wednesday, eight days before the Feast of the Ascension (which occurs 39 days after Easter).

Gauss was a child prodigy. When Gauss was barely seven years old he confidently solved an arithmetic series problem faster than anyone else in his class of 100 students. According to one famous story, in primary school his teacher, tried to occupy pupils by making them add a list of integers. The young Gauss reputedly produced the correct answer within seconds, to the astonishment of his teacher and his assistant. Gauss's presumed method, which supposes the list of numbers was from 1 to 100, was to realise that pairwise addition of terms from opposite ends of the list yielded identical intermediate sums: 1 + 100 = 101, 2 + 99 = 101, 3 + 98 = 101, and so on, for a total sum of 50 × 101 = 5050.

He made his first groundbreaking mathematical discoveries while still a teenager. He completed his masterpiece, "Arithmetical Investigations" written in 1798, at the age of 21—though it was not published until 1801. This work was fundamental in consolidating number theory as a discipline and has shaped the field to the present day.

Gauss's intellectual abilities attracted the attention of the Duke of Brunswick, the then ruler, who sent him to the Collegium Carolinum (now Braunschweig University of Technology)and then to the University of Göttingen from 1795 to 1798. While at university, Gauss independently rediscovered several important theorems.

Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777 – 1855) was a German mathematician and physicist who made significant contributions to many fields including algebra, analysis, astronomy, differential geometry, electrostatics, geodesy, geophysics, magnetic fields, matrix theory, mechanics, number theory, optics and statistics. Referred to as the "the greatest mathematician since antiquity", Gauss had an exceptional influence in many fields of mathematics and science, and is ranked among history's most influential mathematicians.
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