Bourbaki, as the group was named at the Besse-en-Chandesse con-
ference (the first name Nicolas was added later), planned to com-
plete a first draft of the book within a year. While this goal was far
from achieved, it did set the group's plans in motion. Of course there
were still debates, questions, hesitation, and backtracking, all of
which resulted in modifications and refinements of the outline for
the book. Over the course of the following years, the "abstract
packet" (Bourbaki's name for the sections dealing with abstract alge-
bra and topology, which were to serve as a foundation for the rest of
the book) grew relentlessly, while the other chapters were delayed
and and even deemphasized. Initially conceived as auxiliary to the
other chapters and intended to be as short as possible, the abstract
packet became one of the main parts of the project. In fact,
Bourbaki's project had become so broad and ambitious that the
phrase "treatise on analysis" no longer applied. Thus it was under
the title Elements de mathematique—the resemblance to Euclid's
Elements is no coincidence—that Bourbaki's first volume appeared
in 1939-1940. The first volume to appear was Fascicule des resultats
de theorie des ensembles, a summary of set theoretical results pre-
sented without proof.
During World War II, despite the scattering of the Bourbaki mem-
bers, the group managed to publish three more volumes of Elements
de mathematique. Numerous other volumes followed in the decades
Szolem Mandelbrojt, Claud
Chevalley, Rene de Possel, an
Andre Weil (from left to righ
during the 1935 conferenc
Rene de Possel
The portaits ringed in blue show
the future members of Bourbaki a
their entrance to YEcole Normal
Superieure.
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