Bourbaki, Nicolas

Bourbaki, Nicolas, pseudonym under which a group of 20th cent. mathematicians has written a series of treatises on pure mathematics. The mathematicians have all been associated with the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris at some point in their careers; among them are the French scholars Claude Chevalley, André Weil, Henri Cartan, and Jean Dieudonné along with the American Samuel Eilenberg. The pseudonym was jokingly adopted from Gen. Charles Bourbaki, becuase of his disastrous defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.

The principal aim of the Bourbaki group (L'Association des Collaborateurs de Nicolas Bourbaki) is to provide a solid foundation for the whole body of modern mathematics. The method of exposition is axiomatic and abstract, logically coherent and rigorous, proceeding normally from the general to the particular, a style found to be not altogether congenial to many readers. The ongoing series of books began with Éléments de Mathématiques in 1939, and other books on algebra, set theory, topology, and other topics have followed. Many books in the series have become standard references, though some mathematicians are critical of their austerely abstract point of view.

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