FOM: Szolem Mandelbrojt and Bourbaki

Michel Eytan eytan at
Thu Oct 1 09:43:24 EDT 1998

Thus spake forth Reuben Hersh  at 5:29 pm -0600 30-9-98 re Re: FOM: Szolem
Mandelbrojt and Bourbaki:

> On Wed, 30 Sep 1998, Colin McLarty wrote:
> > A.R.D.Mathias wrote:
> >
> > >So any information about the scope of Mandelbrojt's mathematical work,
> > >and about his involvement with Bourbaki, and any psychological insights
> > >into a possible estrangement from Bourbaki, would be most welcome.
> >
> >         There is just a word about this in James Gleick's CHAOS (pp.89-90).
> > In short he says Bourbaki was axiomatic and formal, and found geometry
> > "untrustworthy". He says, Mandelbrot "fled the Ecole Normale because of
> > Bourbaki and a few decades later he fled France for the same reason".
> >
> >
> >
> 	Why not ask Mandelbrot's nephew Benoit?

The Mandelbrot you are referring to (Benoit, inventor of Fractals) is
*distinct* from his uncle Mandelbro*j*t (Szolem) who has stayed in France
-- and was I believe Professor at College de France -- and did not probably
flee the Ecole Normale since I doubt he was ever a student there, having
emigrated from Poland when already beyond the age of going to the Ecole

As far as memory serves me (not too well nowadays) Sz. Mandelbrojt was
indeed at some time a Bourbaki member. I guess if the latter is true he was
introduced via his friend de Possel...

As for Benoit's reasons for 'fleeing' France, it might be less simple than
that given above...

Michel Eytan                           eytan at
                                       "I say what I mean and mean what I say"

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