What / Why is this mathematical equation on the 10 Deutsche Mark?

On the 10 Deutsche Mark, there’s a mathematical equation. See here. Why is this equation on there? What is it? The guy on the note is “Carl Friedr. Gauß” - I assume that’s some sort of famous Mathematician but I don’t know how to pronounce that German character nor do I know how to look him up in Wikipedia using that character.

Much obliged.

Take a look for “Gauss”
I recently read a Carl Sagan book that mentioned this.


The bell-shaped graph is a Gaussian probability distribution. You get curves like that typically when you plot the distribution of some statistical variable which varies around an average.

Here’s a really cute link, which manages to explain all the symbology in passing.

The German letter you refer to is called an “ess-tzet”, which simply means an “s-z”. It’s pronounced the same as two ss’s together.

The mathematician is Karl Friedrich Gauss. I’m not a mathemetician and can’t read the equation anyway, but from the graph it looks like some sort of normal curve.

I’d be interested in knowing what that is, too. Gauss, AFAIK, accomplished so much, in various areas of math, that it must have been hard to pick one to honor.

This article (both pdf) specifically describes Gauss’ contributions as symbolised on the banknote. The first part is moderately technical, but explains how he derived the Gaussian distribution, while the easier second part outlines the geodesy work referred to on the reverse side.

Watch what you say. KarlGauss is watching you. And he’s a pretty intelligent poster, too.

Gauss is considered by some to be the greatest mathematician ever. (e.g. “Carl Friedrich Gauss was the greatest of all mathematicians and perhaps the most richly gifted genius of whom there is any record.” -George F. Simmons in his book Calculus Gems). Such rankings are somewhat a matter of opinion, but no one denies that Gauss is one of the greats.

The equation and its accompanying graph are indeed of the normal, or Gaussian, distribution, which is a cornerstone of modern statistics.