and departures, which were marked by no ceremony, remained com-
mon throughout the history of Bourbaki, and the composition of the
group varied continually.
A Modest Project Turns Ambitious
As for the project's nature and content, the initial intention of creat-
ing a book used for teaching differential and integral calculus
quickly turned into a much more ambitious task. Already during the
second meeting, Weil stated that "we must write a book that can be
used by anyone: by researchers (both students and professors), by
future teachers, by physicists, and by engineers." To accomplish this,
the book would need to provide the readers with a collection of
mathematical tools "as robust and universal as possible," and the
group would need to develop a detailed outline for the book before
deciding what tools to present. At the same time, the book would
need to simplify the tools as much as possible; that is, to determine
the real substance of these tools and to present the most general,
and therefore universal, versions of them. This is not the case of
most textbooks, where one of the weaknesses is often that funda-
mental theorems "are presented with a pretty incredible restraint: far
At the first Bourbaki conferenc
held in Besse-en-Chandesse
1935. Standing (left to righ
Henri Cartan, Rene de Poss
Jean Dieudonne, Andre Weil, a
a university lab technicia
Seated (left to right): Mirles
guinea pig, or potential futu
Bourbaki), Claude Chevalle
Szolem Mandelbro
Previous Page Next Page