Born 241 years ago on April 30, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss is often described as the “Prince of Mathematicians” and hailed for his contributions to number theory, geometry, probability theory and astronomy.
In the German mathematician’s honour, Google is changing its logo in 28 countries to a doodle of him and his achievements.
This is his story:
Gauss was born in 1777 in Brunswick to poor, working-class parents.
His mother, who was illiterate, never recorded her son’s birthday. However, she recalled that he had been born on a Wednesday, eight days after the Feast of Ascension, 40 days after Easter.
So, Gauss used that information to determine his birthday, developing his own algorithm for working out the date of Easter anytime in the 1700s or 1800s.
- His father worked as a gardener and was regarded as an upright, honest man. However, he was known for being harsh and for discouraging his son from attending school.
Gauss’s mother, instead, recognised his talents and knew that he must develop his intelligence through education.
He was described as a child prodigy, and he often said he could count before he could talk. At the age of seven, he is believed to have amused his teachers by summing the integers from one to 100 almost instantly.