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Johann Benedict Listing

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Johann Benedict Listing
Born(1808-07-25)25 July 1808
Died24 December 1882(1882-12-24) (aged 74)
Alma materUniversity of Göttingen
Known forBack-and-forth method
Listing number
Listing's knot
Listing's law
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorCarl Friedrich Gauss
Doctoral studentsEdward Leamington Nichols

Johann Benedict Listing (25 July 1808 – 24 December 1882) was a German mathematician.

J. B. Listing was born in Frankfurt and died in Göttingen. He finished his studies at the University of Göttingen in 1834, and in 1839 he succeeded Wilhelm Weber as professor of physics.

Listing first introduced the term "topology" to replace the older term "geometria situs" (also called sometimes "Analysis situs"), in a famous article published in 1847, although he had used the term in correspondence some years earlier.[1] He (independently) discovered the properties of the Möbius strip, or half-twisted strip, at the same time (1858) as August Ferdinand Möbius, and went further in exploring the properties of strips with higher-order twists (paradromic rings). He discovered topological invariants which came to be called Listing numbers.[2]

In ophthalmology, Listing's law describes an essential element of extraocular eye muscle coordination.

In geodesy, he coined in 1872 the term geoid for the idealized geometric surface of the figure of the Earth.[3]


  1. ^ "Johann Benedict Listing – Biography". Maths History. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  2. ^ Peirce, C. S., 1992, Reasoning and the Logic of Things: The Cambridge Conference Lectures of 1898, edited with introduction by Kenneth Laine Ketner and with commentary by Hilary Putnam, who discusses Listing numbers starting on page 99. It is currently difficult to find anything online about Listing numbers except in connection with Peirce.
  3. ^ Listing, Johann Benedict (1872). Über unsere jetzige Kenntniss der Gestalt und Grösse der Erde: Aus den Nachrichten der K. Ges. der Wiss (in German). Göttingen: Dieterich. Retrieved 6 July 2021.