Gauss published a statistical justification for least squares in 1809


What have you done lately?

And, of course, you know that Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was an 18th-19th-century German polymath who invented pretty much every single thing.

Carl Friedrich Gauss 1840 by Jensen.jpg
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (/ɡaʊs/; German: Gauß [ɡaʊs] ( listen); Latin: Carolus Fridericus Gauss; 30 April 1777 – 23 February 1855) was a German mathematician and physicist who made significant contributions to many fields in mathematics and sciences.[1] Sometimes referred to as the Princeps mathematicorum[2] (Latin for “the foremost of mathematicians”) and “the greatest mathematician since antiquity”, Gauss had an exceptional influence in many fields of mathematics and science, and is ranked among history’s most influential mathematicians.[3]

Source: Wikipedia contributors. “Carl Friedrich Gauss.Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Sep. 2018. Web. 21 Sep. 2018.


Not Gandalf

But you’d be forgiven for thinking so.

It is Alexander Grothendieck (1928-2014), who was a famous mathematician in the area of algebraic geometry. Born in Berlin, his father was Alexander “Sascha” Schapiro (aka Sascha Tanaroff), an anarchist and descendent of bourgeois Hasids from Novozybkov, Russia, near the modern-day borders with Belarus and Ukraine. Grothendieck’s mother was Johanna “Hanka” Grothenieck, also an anarchist and a descendant of middle-class German Protestants from Hamburg. 

Grothendieck survived the Second World War and entered academia as a mathematician, making significant contributions in the area of algebraic geometry. He eventually became convinced that mathematics was immoral, and descended into a madness of religious passion. One presumes that the photograph above is from this later period. 

Via Cliff Pickover on Twitter

See also: