Google is closing out the month of April by celebrating late mathematician and statistics pioneer Carl Friedrich Gauss on Monday (April 30), which marks his 241st birthday, in the form of a Google Doodle.
Born in Brunswick (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) in 1777, Gauss was raised as an only child in a family with little money and education. Still, he quickly became known as a child prodigy for his intellectual abilities, including figuring out his own birthday, as his mother never recorded it — but he remembered that he was born eight days before the Feast of the Ascension.
Gauss — whose full name is Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss — made significant contributions to many fields of mathematics and science, including algebra, number theory, differential geometry, geophysics, magnetic fields and optics. Ranked as one of the most influential mathematicians in history, Gauss is also often referred to as the “Prince of Mathematicians.”
One of his most significant discoveries was the 17-sided polygon, also known as a heptadecagon, which he constructed using only a ruler and a compass. The heptadecagon is one of the many objects featured in Gauss’ Google Doodle, along with an animated image of his profile, planetary orbits, a bell curve and a telescope.