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    Math versus Maths, was: AstroNav Course
    From: UNK
    Date: 2016 Jul 8, 04:26 -0700

    Frank,

    You surely noticed that the author contradicts himself in the last paragraph when he first claims that the difference between Math and Maths be only in the usage, but then chides one particular speaker for saying "Do the maths". Clearly, he thereby admits that there is a semantic difference between the two forms.

    N. Bourbaki has created a more interesting problem. The French have consistently used the plural form. But in 1939 appeared the first volume of Bourbaki's Éléments de mathématique. Apparently they/he aimed to emphasize the presentation of the entire subject as a unified whole. They/he surely did not convince the authors of the corresponding article on Wikipedia. We read: "Éléments de mathématique est un traité de mathématiques du groupe Nikolas Bourbaki".

    But the fun is not over. Later in the series appeared a volume called Éléments d'histoire des mathématiques. By choosing this title, Bourbaki wanted to say: "Before our/my approach, the mathematical sciences were a bunch of loosely connected disciplines." (see Wikipedia.) But I think there is more to it. It was a clever, even necessary trick to avoid self reference. After all, Bourbaki made history.  A volume called Éléments d'histoire de mathématique would have had to describe its own history before its completion. N'est-ce pas?

    Next we need to discuss whether to use the singular or the plural when referring to Nicolas Bourbaki.

    Best regards,

    Herbert

       
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