AUGUST FERDINAND MOBIUS (1790-1868), German astronomer and mathematician, was born at Schulpforta on the 17th of November 1790. At Leipzig, Göttingen and Halle he studied for four years, ultimately devoting himself to mathematics and astronomy. In 1815 he settled at Leipzig as privatdocent, and the next year became extraordinary professor of astronomy in connexion with the university. Later he was chosen director of the university observatory, which was erected (1818-1821) under his superintendence. In 1844 he was elected ordinary professor of higher mechanics and astronomy, a position which he held till his death on the 26th of September 1868. His doctor's dissertation, De computandis occultationibus fixarum per planetas (Leipzig, 1815), established his reputation as a theoretical astronomer. Die Hauptsatze der Astronomie (1836), Die Elemente der Mechanik des Himmels (1843), may be noted amongst his other purely astronomical publications. Of more general interest, however, are his labours in pure mathematics, which appear for the most part in Crelle's Journal from 1828 to 1858. These papers are chiefly geometrical, many of them being developments and applications of the methods laid down in his great work, Der barycentrische Calcul (Leipzig, 1827), which, as the name implies, is based upon the properties of the mean point or centre of mass (see Algebra: Universal). This work abounds in suggestions and foreshadowings of some of the most striking discoveries in more recent times - such, for example, as are contained in H. Grassmann's Ausdehnungslehre and Sir W. R. Hamilton's Quaternions. Mobius must be regarded as one of the leaders in the introduction of the powerful methods of modern projective geometry.
His Gesammelten Werke have been published in four volumes at Leipzig (1885-1887).
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