Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • When Nicolas Bourbaki applied to the American Mathematical Society

  • in the 1950s,

  • he was already one of the most influential mathematicians of his time.

  • He'd published articles in international journals

  • and his textbooks were required reading.

  • Yet his application was firmly rejected for one simple reason

  • Nicolas Bourbaki did not exist.

  • Two decades earlier, mathematics was in disarray.

  • Many established mathematicians had lost their lives in the first World War,

  • and the field had become fragmented.

  • Different branches used disparate methodology to pursue their own goals.

  • And the lack of a shared mathematical language

  • made it difficult to share or expand their work.

  • In 1934, a group of French mathematicians were particularly fed up.

  • While studying at the prestigious École normale supérieure,

  • they found the textbook for their calculus class so disjointed

  • that they decided to write a better one.

  • The small group quickly took on new members,

  • and as the project grew, so did their ambition.

  • The result was the "Éléments de mathématique,"

  • a treatise that sought to create a consistent logical framework

  • unifying every branch of mathematics.

  • The text began with a set of simple axioms

  • laws and assumptions it would use to build its argument.

  • From there, its authors derived more and more complex theorems

  • that corresponded with work being done across the field.

  • But to truly reveal common ground,

  • the group needed to identify consistent rules

  • that applied to a wide range of problems.

  • To accomplish this, they gave new, clear definitions

  • to some of the most important mathematical objects,

  • including the function.

  • It's reasonable to think of functions as machines

  • that accept inputs and produce an output.

  • But if we think of functions as bridges between two groups,

  • we can start to make claims about the logical relationships between them.

  • For example, consider a group of numbers and a group of letters.

  • We could define a function where every numerical input corresponds

  • to the same alphabetical output,

  • but this doesn't establish a particularly interesting relationship.

  • Alternatively, we could define a function where every numerical input

  • corresponds to a different alphabetical output.

  • This second function sets up a logical relationship

  • where performing a process on the input has corresponding effects

  • on its mapped output.

  • The group began to define functions by how they mapped elements across domains.

  • If a function's output came from a unique input,

  • they defined it as injective.

  • If every output can be mapped onto at least one input,

  • the function was surjective.

  • And in bijective functions, each element had perfect one to one correspondence.

  • This allowed mathematicians to establish logic that could be translated

  • across the function's domains in both directions.

  • Their systematic approach to abstract principles

  • was in stark contrast to the popular belief that math was an intuitive science,

  • and an over-dependence on logic constrained creativity.

  • But this rebellious band of scholars gleefully ignored conventional wisdom.

  • They were revolutionizing the field, and they wanted to mark the occasion

  • with their biggest stunt yet.

  • They decided to publish "Éléments de mathématique"

  • and all their subsequent work under a collective pseudonym:

  • Nicolas Bourbaki.

  • Over the next two decades, Bourbaki's publications became standard references.

  • And the group's members took their prank as seriously as their work.

  • Their invented mathematician claimed to be a reclusive Russian genius

  • who would only meet with his selected collaborators.

  • They sent telegrams in Bourbaki's name, announced his daughter's wedding,

  • and publicly insulted anyone who doubted his existence.

  • In 1968, when they could no longer maintain the ruse,

  • the group ended their joke the only way they could.

  • They printed Bourbaki's obituary, complete with mathematical puns.

  • Despite his apparent death, the group bearing Bourbaki's name lives on today.

  • Though he's not associated with any single major discovery,

  • Bourbaki's influence informs much current research.

  • And the modern emphasis on formal proofs owes a great deal to his rigorous methods.

  • Nicolas Bourbaki may have been imaginarybut his legacy is very real.

When Nicolas Bourbaki applied to the American Mathematical Society

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 output group nicolas input mathematical mapped

The greatest mathematician that never lived - Pratik Aghor

  • 0 0
    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/12
Video vocabulary