The Mathematician Who Never Was

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Summary:

The story of Nicolas Bourbaki, a group of top mathematicians band together to form a highly influential anonymous group under the authorship of N Bourbaki

Main Question or Discussion Point

While in college, many decades ago we thought it would be fun to create a fake faculty member of the Physics department. His name was Prof AH Neato. It was coined from me always saying “Ah neato” when I saw something remarkable in our studies. One student put on a lab coat and some of those silly glasses with mustache and snozzola and another took a photo of him and AH Neat was born. We were on our way to creating a legend until we got bored after a couple of days and stopped as a result of college student apathy when work must be done homework or otherwise to succeed.

in the 1930’s some brilliant upcoming mathematicians came up with the same notion and N Bourbaki was created. But like all great ideas, someone thought of it before and so we were scooped by 40 years.

https://theconversation.com/nicolas-bourbaki-the-greatest-mathematician-who-never-was-122845
 

Answers and Replies

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You can partition the history of mathematics in a pre - and post Bourbaki era. The pre Bourbaki era possibly in ancient and post Euler. But Bourbaki was more than a mathematician who wasn't. They fundamentally changed the way we speak mathematics. Textbooks were written as essays until then, after them as collection of formulas. Of course cum grano salis. Bourbaki has brought system, structure and rigor into the language. We are nowadays so used to read ##G=\{\,g\in G\,|\,g^{-1}n^{-1}gn \in N \text{ for all }n\in N\,\}## instead of invariant subgroup. And proofs refer to Corollary 2.3.1 and not to as we saw in chapter two anymore.
 
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gleem
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Interested in the story behind N. Bourbaki? Read "The Artist and the Mathematician - The Story of Nicholas Bourbaki, the Genius Mathematician Who Never Existed" By Amir D. Aczel.
 

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