Last modified on 26 September 2018, at 13:58


Nicolas Bourbaki was a fictional mathematician invented by a group of French academics in the 1930s. Over a period of about fifty years, the group published a series of densely worded books supposedly written by Bourbaki. Their aim in doing so was to make mathematics as abstract and divorced from physical intuition as possible. Although little read today, the writings of Bourbaki are still strongly influential in university classes and parts of leftist Europe. More significantly, perhaps, the teachings of Bourbaki have been used to justify such educational initiatives as the new math program championed by liberals in American schools in the 1960s and 1970s. Many people have also criticised the Bourbaki group for destroying the healthy partnership between math and physics that had inspired such English-speaking mathematicians as Isaac Newton, and for moving college mathematics teaching away from the traditional geometry of Euclid and Pythagoras.

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