August Ferdinand Möbius

[mœ-bee-uhs, mey-, moh-; Ger. mœ-bee-oos]

August Ferdinand Möbius (November 17, 1790September 26, 1868, was a German mathematician and theoretical astronomer. He was born in Schulpforta, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany and died in Leipzig.

He is best known for his discovery of the Möbius strip, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space. It was independently discovered by Johann Benedict Listing around the same time. The Möbius configuration, formed by two mutually inscribed tetrahedra, is also named after him. Möbius was the first to introduce homogeneous coordinates into projective geometry. Möbius transformations, important in projective geometry, are not to be confused with the Möbius transform of number theory, which also bears his name. His interest was also in number theory, and the important Möbius function μ(n) and the Möbius inversion formula are named after him.

Möbius studied under Carl Friedrich Gauss and Johann Pfaff.

Collected works


  • Möbius was a descendant of Martin Luther by way of his mother.
  • The character of Johann Wilhelm Möbius—a particular scientist who tries to evade his own inventions by pretending to be insane—in Dürrenmatt's satiric drama The Physicists is named after him.
  • The asteroid 28516 Möbius is also named after him.
  • In StarCraft, the upgraded energy reactor of the Terran Ghost is called "Moebius Reactor"
  • There is a tribute to him in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, in the form on the deathmatch map dm_mobius (which has since spawned various spin-offs such as in the Unreal Tournament series).
  • Möbius also plays a pivotal part in Brian Lumley's Necroscope book series.

External links

  • Möbius math genealogy
  • A beautiful visualization of Möbius Transformations, created by mathematicians at the University of Minnesota is viewable at

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