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The Discovery of Ceres: How Gauss Became Famous

by Donald Teets and Karen Whitehead

Award: Carl B. Allendoerfer

Year of Award: 2000

Publication Information: Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 72(1999), pp. 83-91

Summary: Explanation of the methods used by Gauss in the orbit calculation.

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About the Authors: (from Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 72 (1999)) Donald Teets received his B.A. from the University of Colorado, his M.S. from Colorado State University, and his Doctor of Arts from Idaho State University. He has taught at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology since 1988. The Gauss-Ceres orbit problem was brought to his attention by a historical note regarding the method of least squares in a calculus text. When he is not doing mathematics, he enjoys backpacking, cross-country skiing, and rock climbing.

Karen Whitehead received both her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She joined the faculty at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1981, serving as department head and college dean before taking on her current duties as Vice President for Academic Affairs. Her interest in the Gauss-Ceres problem was two-fold: before looking at the mathematics involved, she first translated Gauss's paper and several related works from the original German. Her major avocation is music: she is a substitute church organist, and has sung in student choral groups on campus.

Subject classification(s): Algebra and Number Theory | Algebra | Geometry and Topology | Trigonometry | Applied Mathematics | Mathematical Physics | Mathematics History | Biographies of Mathematicians
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 7, 2007