Gerstner was born in Chomutov, where he studied at the Jesuits gymnasium, after which he studied mathematics and astronomy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Prague between 1772 and 1777. In 1781, he started to study medicine in Vienna, but quickly decided to work in the astronomical observatory instead. In 1789, he became professor of mathematics there.
In 1795, Gerstner became a member of the government commission which tried to improve higher technical education in the Austrian empire. Following his suggestion, the old Prague engineering school Česká stavovská inženýrská škola was converted to a polytechnic school in 1803. Gerstner became director of the polytechnic in 1806 and also professor of mechanics and hydraulics. He taught there until 1823, when he was forced to stop due to an illness. The polytechnic still exists today as the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT), and the institute for artificial intelligence and cybernetics research at ČVUT bears the name Gerstner Laboratory. He died, aged 76, in Mladějov.
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... This railway was later actually built between 1827 and 1829 by his son František Antonín Gerstner (German Franz Anton (Ritter) von Gerstner, 1796 ...