"It seems that to make a correct conjecture about any event whatever, it is necessary to calculate exactly the number of possible cases and then to determine how much more likely it is that one case will occur than another." Jacob Bernoulli "Ars Conjectandi"
Jacob Bernoulli, was the first in a line of famous mathematicians. The inscription on his elaborately carved grave marker, at the Basel Cathedral sums up his life.
Jacob Bernoulli, was the oldest son of merchant, druggist, Nicholaus Bernoulli of Basel, Switzerland, and his wife Margaretha Schönauer. Margaretha was the daughter of a banker.  Perhaps it was her family that generated the spark of mathematical genius that created two brilliant sons and several generations of mathematicians.
Jacob's parents set him to study philosophy and theology, but he also studied mathematics and astronomy. He received his theology degree in 1676, and moved to Geneva to work as a tutor. He spent several years in France, the Netherlands, other parts of Europe and England, studying with the leading mathematicians, astronomers and scientists of the day.
In 1683, Jacob returned to Switzerland, where he taught mechanics at the University in Basel. He was offered a position in the Church, but turned it down, so he could continue with his true avocation. As he taught he continued his studies and research in mathematics and theoretical physics. He published his findings and theories in the journal Acta Eruditorum begun in Leipzig in 1682.
In 1684, Jacob Bernoulli married Judith Stupanus. They had two children, a son, Nicolaus, and a daughter, Verena.
Jacob was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the University in 1687. He and his younger brother Johann began studying calculus together. However, the two brothers, jealous of each other, became rivals.
Jacob continued to study, research, determine, and publish important mathematical principles. He was the first to use the term integral. He studied the catenary, the curve of a suspended string, was an early user of polar coordinates and discovered the isochrone.
Known for: Bernoulli differential equation, Bernoulli numbers, Bernoulli's formula, Bernoulli polynomials, Bernoulli map, Bernoulli trial, Bernoulli process, Bernoulli scheme, Bernoulli operator, Hidden Bernoulli model, Bernoulli sampling, Bernoulli distribution, Bernoulli random variable, Bernoulli's Golden Theorem, Bernoulli's inequality, Lemniscate of Bernoulli
After Jacob's death in 1705, his brother, Johann, took over his position as Professor of Mathematics at Basel University.
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