Bourbaki, Nicolas

Bourbaki, c. 1938

Although the fiction of an actual French mathematician named Bourbaki was maintained for many years, it became generally known in 1952 that ‘Bourbaki’ is the nom de plume of a private congress of young French mathematicians that formed in 1935 with the purpose of writing a comprehensive exposition of modern mathematics in many volumes, called Elements. Bourbaki’s original members included André Weil, Henri Cartan, Claude Chevalley, and Jean Dieudonné. Other mathematicians have been recruited into Bourbaki in the years since, including G. de Rham, A. Grothendieck, S. Lang, and R. Thom. A principle motivation for the activity of the Bourbaki group is the felt need to unify the entire corpus of mathematical work in the face of accelerating diversification and specialization of mathematics.