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by Albert EinsteinOctober 15th, 2022

*Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book **here**.*

where du and dv signify very small numbers. In a similar manner we may indicate the distance (line-interval) between P and P′, as measured with a little rod, by means of the very small number ds. Then according to Gauss we have

Under these conditions, the u-curves and v-curves are straight lines in the sense of Euclidean geometry, and they are perpendicular to each other. Here the Gaussian coordinates are simply Cartesian ones. It is clear that Gauss co-ordinates are nothing more than an association of two sets of numbers with the points of the surface considered, of such a nature that numerical values differing very slightly from each other are associated with neighbouring points “in space.”

We can sum this up as follows: Gauss invented a method for the mathematical treatment of continua in general, in which “size-relations” (“distances” between neighbouring points) are defined. To every point of a continuum are assigned as many numbers (Gaussian coordinates) as the continuum has dimensions. This is done in such a way, that only one meaning can be attached to the assignment, and that numbers (Gaussian coordinates) which differ by an indefinitely small amount are assigned to adjacent points. The Gaussian coordinate system is a logical generalisation of the Cartesian co-ordinate system. It is also applicable to non-Euclidean continua, but only when, with respect to the defined “size” or “distance,” small parts of the continuum under consideration behave more nearly like a Euclidean system, the smaller the part of the continuum under our notice.

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*Einstein, Albert, 2004. Relativity: The Special and General Theory. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from **https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5001/5001-h/5001-h.htm#ch25**
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