Gauss showed his talent for mathematics very early. One
day when he was barely three years old, he overheard his
father mumbling the payroll figures for the workers in
his small brick-laying business. Carl listened and, working
in his head, he found a mistake in his father's calculations!
When he was about 10 years old his teacher gave the class
a long problem to do to keep them occupied: they had to
add together the first 100 whole numbers - this was before
the days of calculators. Much to the amazement of the
teacher, Gauss gave the correct answer in seconds. He
had noticed that the numbers could be added in pairs to
give 1 + 100 = 101; 2 + 99 = 101; 3 + 98 = 101 and so
on. This meant that the total must be 50 x 101 = 5050.
Shortly before his 19th birthday, Gauss became the first
person to prove that a regular polygon with 17 sides can
be constructed using only a compass and straight-edge.
This was the first discovery in Euclidean geometry in
In 1801 an asteroid Ceres was discovered but then disappeared
from view. Gauss was able to predict exactly where it
Gauss devoted his life to the study of mathematics and
was Professor of Mathematics at the University of Gottingen
for nearly 50 years. His work influenced almost every
area of the subject.