**Nathan Jacobson** was an American algebraist who is best known for his work in ring theory and for his text-books.

- Having attended a course by Wedderburn on matrices in which he ended by developing his classical structure theory of finite dimensional algebras over finite fields, Jacobson was given the task of studying division algebras which were idealizers of one-sided ideals of polynomial rings.
- Jacobson's career began with relatively short periods in a number of universities throughout the United States.
- Jacobson had heard Emmy Noether lecture on class field theory in Princeton in the spring semester of 1935 and again at the summer meeting of the American Mathematical Society where she made comments on Jacobson's thesis results which he presented there.
- Jacobson also met Noether at the Brauers' home where they were invited for dinner on several occasions.
- When she died in the spring of 1935 Jacobson was invited to take up a one year post at Bryn Mawr to give Noether's advertised lecture courses so session 1935-36 was spent at Bryn Mawr.
- The year 1935 saw the publication of Jacobson's first paper on Lie algebras and over the four years up to 1938 he published five further papers on the topic as well as two papers on topological rings.
- During these four years, Jacobson worked at three different universities.
- Jacobson undertook the training, then taught at the Navy school for pilots.
- While in Chicago, Jacobson mixed with the algebraists at the University and there he met Florence Dorfman (known as Florie) who was a doctoral student working under A A Albert.
- In 1943 civilian instructors were asked to leave the Navy Pre-Flight School and Jacobson was appointed to a two year post at Johns Hopkins University where Zariski was on the Faculty.
- During his years at Yale, Jacobson spent time on visits to other universities.
- We have made a number of references to Jacobson's Jewish background in this article and there is one further episode we should mention which illustrates the tensions that resulted.
- From 1972 to 1974 Jacobson and Pontryagin were both vice-presidents of the International Mathematical Union.
- They attempted to raise N Jacobson, a mediocre scientist but an aggressive Zionist, to the presidency.
- This attack Jacobson answered at length with a reply which appears in the June 1980 Notices of the American Mathematical Society.
- Jacobson is well known for his outstanding contributions to ring theory.
- Jacobson discovered a deep structure theory for rings and has given his name to the Jacobson radical, the intersection of the maximal ideals of a ring.
- The collection of Jacobson's sixteen algebra books are beautifully written, presenting deep results which are accessible to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Born 8 September 1910, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland). Died 5 December 1999, Hamden, Connecticut, USA.

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Algebra, Origin Poland

**Oâ€™Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive