# 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Möbius, August Ferdinand

**MÖBIUS, AUGUST FERDINAND** (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 Hauptsätze 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 foreshadowing 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*. Möbius 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).