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Carl Friedrich Gauss

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas of Gauss, 'prince of mathematicians', including those on number theory, geometry, probability theory, astronomy and electromagnetism.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Gauss (1777-1855), widely viewed as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He was a child prodigy, correcting his father's accounts before he was 3, dumbfounding his teachers with the speed of his mental arithmetic, and gaining a wealthy patron who supported his education. He wrote on number theory when he was 21, with his Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, which has influenced developments since. Among his achievements, he was the first to work out how to make a 17-sided polygon, he predicted the orbit of the minor planet Ceres, rediscovering it, he found a way of sending signals along a wire, using electromagnetism, the first electromagnetic telegraph, and he advanced the understanding of parallel lines on curved surfaces.


Marcus du Sautoy
Professor of Mathematics and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford

Colva Roney-Dougal
Reader in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews


Nick Evans
Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Southampton

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 30 Nov 2017 21:30


Marcus du Sautoy at the University of Oxford

Colva Roney-Dougal at the University of St Andrews

Nick Evans at the University of Southampton

Electricity and Magnetism course taught by Nick Evans at the University of Southampton

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss - School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews

Carl Friedrich Gauss – Encyclopaedia Britannica

19th century mathematics: Gauss – The Story of Mathematics

Carl Friedrich Gauss – Wikipedia



W. K. Bühler, Gauss: A Biographical Study (Springer-Verlag, 1981)

Guy Waldo Dunnington, Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science (Literary Licensing, 2012)

I. S. Grant and W. R. Phillips, Electromagnetism (Wiley-Blackwell, 1990)

Daniel Kehlmann (trans. by Carol Brown Janeway), Measuring the World (Quercus, 2007)

Tom Kibble and Frank Berkshire, Classical Mechanics, 5th edition (Icp, 2004)

Marcus du Sautoy, The Music of the Primes: Why an Unsolved Problem in Mathematics Matters (HarperPerennial, 2004)

M. B. W. Tent, The Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Marcus du Sautoy
Interviewed Guest Colva Roney-Dougal
Interviewed Guest Nick Evans
Producer Simon Tillotson


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