Disquisitiones Arithmeticae and me

Gauss wrote his classic book on number theory, Disquisitiones Arthmeticae, in 1798 when he was 21 years of age.  The book collected and organized previous results in number theory.  To that he added many stunning new results of his own.  The book set a new standard in logical demonstration and rigor.  The book led the way to further fruitful investigations in number theory.  Thus, we may consider it one of the true classics of mathematics.

In the summer of 1974 I purchased a copy of Disquisitiones Arthmeticae at a used book sale.  A little later, I purchased a notebook and began taking notes as I studied the book.  While rummaging through the book closet yesterday, I found the tattered book.  The notebook seems to be lost though.  Oh well, empty notebooks are easy to come by if not so easily refilled with results.

Mathematics and number theory have advanced far beyond Gauss during the past 200 years.  As i thumb through Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, I follow the mind of one of mathematics’ preeminent geniuses.  I find it exciting that with much effort I can follow what he is doing.

Just maybe, another notebook devoted to the book is in order.

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Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 10:57 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. It’s a wonderful book. I have a copy too (took me a while to find it). It’s one book every mathematician should have. I too find it wonderful I can reasonably follow the exposition. Other mathematical writings of the same period seems to me generally far tougher to chew through. Though I don’t have that much experience with historical math writings. I tried to read some of Bolzano’s writings, at least what I found translated (despite both him and me being czech, he wrote everything in german and so I can’t understand it). Gauss was definitely more readable. And I am not even a number theorist, I am an analyst.


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