Nicolas Bourbaki's wedding invitation

Nicolas Bourbaki was the collective pseudonym of a semi-secret group of French mathematicians, best known for the formal style of mathematics it promoted. The group insisted that Bourbaki was a real person, but only as a joke.

The most recent Math Mutation podcast quotes a wedding invitation for Bourbaki.

Monsieur Nicolas Bourbaki, Canonical Member of the Royal Academy of Poldavia, Grand Master of the Order of Compacts, Conserver of Uniforms, Lord Protector of Filters, and Madame née One-to-One, have the honor of announcing the marriage of their daughter Betti …

The trivial isomorphism will be given to them by P. Adic, of the Diophantine Order, at the Principal Cohomology of the Universal Variety …

The organ will be played by Monsieur Modulo, Assistant Simplex of the Grassmannian (Lemmas will be sung by Scholia Cartanorum). …

After the congruence, Monsieur and Madame Bourbaki will receive guests in their Fundamental Domain …

The original French text and full English translation are available here.

The invitation is littered with obscure references to math in general but particularly references to Bourbaki-style math. For example, “Madame née One-to-One” is an allusion to Bourbaki’s attempt to replace the traditional term “one-to-one” with their coinage “injective.” The bride’s name alludes to Betti numbers, a kind of topological invariant. Etc.

The wedding invitation nearly cost Bourbaki member André Weil his life. Weil fled to Finland at the start of World War II. Finnish police found the wedding invitation and thought that it was an encoded message. Weil was sentenced to death as a spy but received a last-minute pardon.

4 thoughts on “Nicolas Bourbaki's wedding invitation

  1. Shouldn’t that be one-one as injective? One-one and onto is bijective, but I admit that I do still even at graduate level get “in-“, “sur-” and “bi-” confused at times.

  2. I don’t know what one-to-one is in French which I guess is a sign that the Bourbaki school won. I only learned injective and subjective, and I was impressed when I learned that in English, people had much more natural terms.

    The Bourbaki school has been a plague on mathematics.

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