Nathan Jacobson

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Nathan Jacobson, 1974

Nathan Jacobson (born October 5, 1910 in Warsaw , † December 5, 1999 in Hamden , Connecticut ) was an American mathematician who studied algebra.


Jacobson was of Polish-Jewish origin and immigrated to the USA from Poland with his parents in 1918. He lived first in Nashville , where his father had a small shop, and then in Birmingham, Alabama , where he went to school. From 1926 he studied at the University of Alabama (first with the intention of becoming a lawyer, after visiting mathematics courses as an assistant he was, however, equally available), earned his bachelor's degree and became 1930 in 1934 at Joseph Wedderburn at the Princeton University Ph.D. ( Non commutative polynomials and cyclic algebras ). In 1934/35 he was at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. In 1935 he visited Europe again, where he saw many of his relatives for the last time. In 1935/36 he taught at Bryn Mawr College as the successor to Emmy Noether , whose lecture on class field theory he had attended in Princeton in the spring of 1935. In 1936/37 he was on a grant from the National Research Council at the University of Chicago with Abraham Adrian Albert and Leonard Dickson . From 1937 to 1943 he was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , where he became an associate professor in 1941. From 1943 to 1947 he was at Johns Hopkins University and from 1947 at Yale University , which at the time had just relaxed its restrictive policy regarding the employment of Jews and where he remained until his retirement in 1981. From 1949 he was a professor there, from 1963 "Henry Ford II Professor". In 1951/52 and 1957/58 he was visiting professor in Paris, the first time as a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1956 he was at the University of California, Berkeley and in 1964/65 in Chicago and Japan.

Jacobson was best known for his work on the theory of rings ( Jacobson radical , Jacobson's density theorem ) as well as on Lie algebras and non-associative algebras such as Jordan algebras . He has also written numerous algebra textbooks.

Jacobson was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1960). From 1971 to 1973 he was President of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). In 1998 he received the Leroy P. Steele Prize for his life's work. From 1972 to 1974 he was Vice President of the International Mathematical Union . He had a heated argument with the other Vice President Lev Pontryagin about allowing Jewish mathematicians from the Soviet Union to attend congresses. Pontryagin called him an "aggressive Zionist," to which Jacobson replied in the 1980 Notices of the AMS. From 1972 he was an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society .

He had been married to the mathematician Florence Dorfman since 1942, who had studied with Albert, gave up her doctorate with Albert after the marriage, but published a paper with her husband.

His 34 PhD students include Charles W. Curtis , George Seligman , Eugene Schenkman , Craig Huneke , Georgia Benkart , Kevin McCrimmon , David Saltman , John Robert Faulkner , Daya-Nand Verma , Christine Williams Ayoub, and Maria Wonenburger .


  • Collected Mathematical Papers, 3 vols., 1989
  • Basic algebra. Freeman, San Francisco 1974
  • Lectures in Abstract Algebra. 3 vols., Van Nostrand 1951, 1953, 1964, reprint at Springer 1975 (vol. 1 Basic concepts, vol. 2 Linear Algebra, vol. 3 Theory of fields and Galois theory)
  • Structure of Rings. AMS 1956
  • The theory of rings. 1943
  • Lie algebras. Interscience 1962
  • Exceptional lie algebras. Dekker 1971
  • Structure and Representation of Jordan Algebras. AMS 1968
  • PI algebras. An Introduction. Springer 1975

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. the "official" date September 8th is based on a translation error, see the web link to MacTutor.