Carl Friedrich Gauss

30 Apr, 2020 510 Mathematics

In a programme first broadcast in 2017, 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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Marcus du Sautoy 15 episodes
    Professor of Mathematics and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford
  • Colva Roney-Dougal 11 episodes
    Reader in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews
  • Nick Evans No other episodes
    Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Southampton

Reading list

  • Gauss: A Biographical Study
    W. K. Buhler (Springer-Verlag, 1981) Google Books →
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science
    Guy Waldo Dunnington (Literary Licensing, 2012) Google Books →
  • Electromagnetism
    I. S. Grant and W. R. Phillips (Wiley-Blackwell, 1990) Google Books →
  • Measuring the World
    Daniel Kehlmann (trans. by Carol Brown Janeway) (Quercus, 2007) Google Books →
  • Classical Mechanics, 5th edition
    Tom Kibble and Frank Berkshire (Icp, 2004) Google Books →
  • The Music of the Primes: Why an Unsolved Problem in Mathematics Matters
    Marcus du Sautoy (HarperPerennial, 2004) Google Books →
  • The Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss
    M. B. W. Tent (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 510.92 (Biography of mathematicians)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Karl Friedrich Gauss, by those who know about these matters, is considered the greatest mathematician of his time and arguably of all time.