A shy, introverted mathematician, it was said. Though stunningly brilliant, publishing work in the late 1940s in dozens of unrelated fields of pure mathematical analysis, he never attended mathematics conferences. It was whispered that he could be the greatest mathematical mind in history.

Of course, he didn't exist. He was the invention of a bunch of French mathematicians. Each of them had different specialties in math, so, as a joke, they got together, wrote their papers, and submitted them under the fictional name.

Something in my black little heart loves the idea of hoaxing mathematicians.

Bourbaki's most important work is probably the massive treatise Éléments de Mathématique (Elements of Mathematics), which covers such topics as set theory, Lie algebras, and real analysis. Some people find Bourbaki hard to read, as their mathematics is very formal. Me, I'm wondering what `un magma' is supposed to be, other than a bunch of molten rock beneath ground.

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