Nicolas Bourbaki

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languages spoken, written or signed:  French

Nicolas Bourbaki (French: [nikɔla buʁbaki]) is the collective pseudonym of a group of mathematicians, predominantly French alumni of the École normale supérieure - PSL (ENS). Founded in 1934–1935, the Bourbaki group originally intended to prepare a new textbook in analysis. Over time the project became much more ambitious, growing into a large series of textbooks published under the Bourbaki name, meant to treat modern pure mathematics. The series is known collectively as the Éléments de mathématique (Elements of Mathematics), the group's central work. Topics treated in the series include set theory, abstract algebra, topology, analysis, Lie groups and Lie algebras. Bourbaki was founded in response to the effects of the First World War which caused the death of a generation of French mathematicians; as a result, young university instructors were forced to use dated texts. While teaching at the University of Strasbourg, Henri Cartan complained to his colleague André Weil of the inadequacy of available course material, which prompted Weil to propose a meeting with others in Paris to collectively write a modern analysis textbook. The group's core founders were Cartan, Claude Chevalley, Jean Delsarte, Jean Dieudonné and Weil; others participated briefly during the group's early years, and membership has changed gradually over time. Although former members openly discuss their past involvement with the group, Bourbaki has a custom of keeping its current membership secret. The group's name derives from the 19th century French general Charles-Denis Bourbaki, who had a career of successful military campaigns before suffering a dramatic loss in the Franco-Prussian War. The name was therefore familiar to early 20th-century French students. Weil remembered an ENS student prank in which an upperclassman posed as a professor and presented a "theorem of Bourbaki"; the name was later adopted. The Bourbaki group holds regular private conferences for the purpose of drafting and expanding the Éléments. Topics are assigned to subcommittees, drafts are debated, and unanimous agreement is required before a text is deemed fit for publication. Although slow and labor-intensive, the process results in a work which meets the group's standards for rigour and generality. The group is also associated with the Séminaire Bourbaki, a regular series of lectures presented by members and non-members of the group, also published and disseminated as written documents. Bourbaki maintains an office at the ENS.Nicolas Bourbaki was influential in 20th-century mathematics, particularly during the middle of the century when volumes of the Éléments appeared frequently. The group is noted among mathematicians for its rigorous presentation and for introducing the notion of a mathematical structure, an idea related to the broader, interdisciplinary concept of structuralism. Bourbaki's work informed the New Math, a trend in elementary math education during the 1960s. Although the group remains active, its influence is considered to have declined due to infrequent publication of new volumes of the Éléments. The collective's most recent publication appeared in 2019, treating spectral theory (and a further volume on the same topic is due in spring 2023). Source: Wikipedia (en)

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