Carl Jacobi 1804-1851
Jacobi was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Potsdam, and at birth was given the assimilated name Jacques Simon. His father, Simon Jacobi, was a banker. Carl was the second child of four in the family, the eldest being Moritz Jacobi who eventually became a famous physicist.
Jacobi’s early education was given by an uncle on his mother’s side, and then, just before his twelfth birthday, Jacobi entered the Gymnasium in Potsdam. He had been well taught by his uncle and he had remarkable talents so in 1817, while still in his first year of schooling, he was put into the final year class. This meant that by the end of the academic year 1816-17 he was still only 12 years old yet he had reached the necessary standard to enter university. The University of Berlin, however, did not accept students below the age of 16, so Jacobi had to remain in the same class at the Gymnasium in Potsdam until the spring of 1821. He pursued an independent course of studies, wasting no time!
He studied mathematics, philosophy, philosphy and philology at the University of Berlin. By the year 1824 he had become a believer. In that year he was made privat-docent in mathematics in Berlin. In 1825 he acted in the same capacity at Königsberg, where he was appointed assistant professor in 1827 and professor in 1829, where he distinguished himself. In these years he made his epoch-making discoveries in the field of elliptic functions. In 1843 he traveled to Italy for health reasons, but on his return to Germany served as professor of mathematics at the University of Berlin.
Most of Jacobi’s papers were published in Crelle’s Journal, “Fuer die Reine und Angewardte Mathematik” and in the “Monatsberichte” (Monthly Reports_ of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, of which he became a member in 1836.
Canon Arithmeticus, Berlin 1839.
Fundamenta Novae Theoriae Functiones Ellipticorum, Koenigsberg, 1829.
Gesammelte Werke, 8 vols. 1881-19. The Berlin Academy of Sciences.
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. 1909.
De le Roi, Juden-Mission, p. 204;
Gerhardt, Gesch. der Mathematik in Deutschland, pp. 247-257.S.
Lejeune-Dirichlet, in Abhandlungen of the Berlin Academy of Sciences (1852); 1. C J Scriba, Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990).
2. Biography in Encyclopaedia Britannica. [Available on the Web]
3. K Biermann, Jacobi, in H Wussing and W Arnold, Biographien bedeutender Mathematiker (Berlin, 1983).
4. E Knobloch, B Mai (trs.) and H Pieper (ed.), Korrespondenz Adrien-Marie Legendre-Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi (Stuttgart, 1998).
5. H Pieper (ed.), Briefwechsel zwischen Alexander von Humboldt und C G Jacob Jacobi (Berlin, 1987).