Gatien Ricotier

I.R.M.A. / U.F.R. de mathématique et d’informatique

7 rue René Descartes

67084 Strasbourg cedex

Bureau : P-118

Téléphone : 03 68 85 02 78

I have started a PhD thesis in history of mathematics, under the supervision of Norbert Schappacher, in September 2017. This space allows me to present my work in this context and in other projects.

I have not, of course, created this web page whithout any help. Thanks to David Miller for sharing his templates under the Open Source MIT license.

Similarly, you are invited to use and share everything which is presented here : all is Open Source. Concerning my work, you are welcome to respect the licenses and to quote your sources : I will be really happy if you report it and give me feedbacks.

"Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can't get privacy unless we all do, we're going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don't much care if you don't approve of the software we write. We know that software can't be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can't be shut down." Eric Hughes, 1993.

Last update : September 2019.

PhD Thesis

The PhD project Norbert Schappacher and I submitted won a scholarship grant of the Région Grand Est. This allows me to benefit of a three-years doctoral contract at the University of Strasbourg, in the Institut de Recherche Mathématique Avancée. My main topic is the Bourbaki group. They started to gather in 1934 and still exists nowadays : Betty even gave some fresh news from Nancago ! You will find bellow some research axis around the topic "Encyclopédistes et chercheurs avides : les membres du groupe Bourbaki dans les années 1930 à 1950, entre responsabilité collective et projets personnels".

Scientific context

After a master thesis on the first edition of Nicolas Bourbaki's Livre VI, Intégration, Chapitres 1 à 4, under the supervision of Norbert Schappacher, it became clear that studies about this group of mathematicians need a real contextualization. The aim of my researches for my PhD thesis is to show the significant influence of extra-textual elements on the published books of Élements de mathématique. When we started, we wanted to study some dynamics in a systematic way. It quickly became clear that, in face of the the quantity, the dissemination and, sometimes, the non-accessibility to some archive documents, this work would not be completed and be relevant before years and the efforts of multiple people. In these conditions, I am starting to study narrow examples (according to the number of actors or topics) for which a thorough analysis can only be made by taking in account the interactions between the collective project and individual interests.

Creating a collective biography

Knowing the history of the Bourbaki's group is a necessity to studding it. Liliane Beaulieu and Michèle Audin have already published great works, often mentioned in the Focus of the Archives Bourbaki. In that way, they contributed to build a collective biography which allows a better understanding of the interactions of the mathematics and the images of mathematics collectively produced by the Bourbaki groups, with respect to the whole scientific community of the twentieth century, and the society in general. This comes to a first diffusion of the sources and to the establishment of a documentation about the group.

Based on this work, and others, without which I could not work on this topic, I contribute to the adding of documents, analysis, information and tools of analysis about Bourbaki. With Christophe Eckes, Pierre Couchet and Pierre Willaime, we started to redesigned the site des Archives Bourbaki. We regularly add metadata and focus about the documents of the website, and, also, data et tools for future analysis.

Henri Cartan's notebook

Henri Cartan's children gave their father's drafts, mainly notebooks, at IRMA's library in 2009. Michèle Audin ordered them in 2014 et made an inventory which is available here. I take advantage to living in Strasbourg to work on this notebooks. Do not hesitate to ask information or a few scans.

There is a lot of things to take advantage of in these notebooks. One of the main interest of this comes from the fact that the first meetings of the Bourbaki's group have been described as a consequences of the - loads of - questions from Henri Cartan to André Weil about his teaching of differential and integral calculus. I am studying this courses taught by Henri Cartan before, during and after the creation of Bourbaki.

A mandatory aspect of research : creating tools !

Mainly with the language R and the IDE R Studio

Facing the quantity of documents and informations to cross, the use of computer is really helpful. Here is some completed tools that I am actually using.

By using the data of zbMATH, gave by FIZ Karlsruhe, we can, for example, show Henri Cartan's coauthors over time. It is also useful to add the link to the zbMATH's reviews of these articles.

Michèle Audin reproduced, in her book Le Séminaire de mathématiques 1933–1939, lists of subscribers to the printed copy of the Julia's seminar. Once in a spreedsheet, one can make automatic request to the GPS coordinates, and then visualize the diffusion of the subscribers over time .

Different tools can be used to research and analyse large archives. For example, in order to staked out the work of Henri Cartan, in his notebooks, for his differential and integral calculus courses, it is useful to have analytical catalogues as it has been done for his father. In order to make quick researches or to sort the contents in different ways, it is pleasant to have flexible and interactive tools : here is an example.

Comparisons and studies on the diffusion of mathematical writing styles

Work in progress : research of differential criterium between mathematical texts published during the twentieth century. By going further, it can also be interesting to study the beginning and the impact of the language TeX on the style of mathematical texts.

To delimitate the nature of the Bourbaki's project

Bourbaki : an encyclopedical project ?

Work in progress.

Teaser : in this document of the group (whose we can try to determine the time of production), it is underlined, about the Élements de mathématique, "qu'il ne s'agit pas d'une Encyclopédie" ["this is not an Encyclopedia"] (p. 3), while Emil Artin wrote, in a review of their first chapter of algebra, in 1953, that "Upon completion of the work a standard enclyclopedia will be at our disposal."


The Fifth International Conference on History of Modern Mathematics

Xi'an, China
At the beginning of Bourbaki's project : Henri Cartan's teaching of Differential and Integral Calculus between 1931 and 1940
18-24 August 2019

History of Science Society 2019 Annual Meeting

Utrecht, the Netherlands
Speaker in the roundtable "Bourbaki reconsidered : origins, operations, and legacies" organised by Michael Barany
23-27 July 2019

Séminaire d'histoire des mathématiques

Archives Henri Poincaré, Nancy
De Goursat à Bourbaki : Henri Cartan et l'enseignement du Calcul différentiel et intégral à l'université de Strasbourg entre 1931 et 1940
11 December 2018

29th Novembertagung on the History of Mathematics

Institute of Mathemematics of the University of Seville
Transition of the style of mathematical publications during the 20th century
28-30 November 2018

28th Novembertagung on the History of Mathematics

Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Bruxelles
Trends in and around the Bourbaki group through quantitative data
2-4 November 2017

27th Novembertagung on the History of Mathematics

Sandbjerg Gods, the Aarhus University Conference Center, Danemark
On Bourbaki's choices about the Intégration of 1952
24-26 November 2016

Other research focus

Social organization

The social work to promote consensus

Following personal experiences, I am interested in the structure of groups and, in particular, in self-management. These issues incorporate some technical and socials constraints - see, for example Arrow's impossibility theorem, or Les chefs comment s'en débarasser. Blockchain technologies can also develop interesting things in that fields.

Computers and internet

After the rise of the wheel which virtualizes the space, the rise of computers virtualizes the exchanges.

Data processing extends and amplifies the globalization. The tools which have been developped since the World War II allow to overcome a lot of constraints : technicals (large data processing, artificial inteligence, editing of documents), spatiotemporal (mails and files exchange, archives), public (Telegram application, the use of MESH network against censorship), economics (cryptocurrencies), etc. By being abstract throught theire virtual nature, these new places of exchanges keep a more or less distinguishable physical root (screen, data center, lines). I am interested in the creation and diffusion of this new technologies throught various geopolitical contexts.

The cypherpunk's movement

Asymetric cryptography as a tool of the libertarianism doctrine

The cypherpunk's movement is at the cross section of the two last entries. Based on asymetric cryptography, some people, often volunteers, sometimes anonymous, developped means to realize their ideals. Mainly libertarians - i.e. : they advocate an absolute freedom based on the negation of the principle of authority in the social organization and the refusal of every constraints resulting of institutions based on this principle -, the tools created by this indivuals have been diffused beyond this environment. I am starting to gather some pieces of information about the creation and the use of PGP as a tool for protection and signature, about secure messaging, such as Telegram, which is used by french politics or the iranian population, about the free circulation of knowledge with the help of website like LibGen or Sci-Hub, and also about exchange means where the security is proportional to their decentralization, such as blockchain.

Evolution of the mathematical research conditions in Strasbourg

The mathematical research conditions are excellent in Strasbourg. This is still highlight in the fourth criterion of the rapport du comité de visite HCERES 2017. André Weil already testified, at the page 96 of his The Apprenticeship of a Mathematician, that, in 1933, "the spacious and confortable facilities of the mathematics department included a fine library, which was not only far superior to what was to be found at the time in provincial universities in "the interior", but also - not insignificantly - much more accessible to faculty and serious students". I focus on elements which, since 1919, contributed to these working conditions. The evolution of these working conditions are impacted by the withdrawal of the University of Strasbourg at Clermont-ferrand, or the creation of the IRMA.


Tools and programation languages
  • LaTeX : to write texts and talks.
  • R et RStudio : really interesting programation and IDE for gathering data (API, parsing), for cleanning, analysing and presenting them.
  • Shiny : package allowing to build interactive web applications from R.

  • Secourism : I had been a lifeguard at the SNSM and had a training for first-aid.
  • Organization of events : I fulfill charges in the association Genepi whose aim is to promote the decompartmentalization of the carceral institutions. I had the occasion to organize fests at the Molodoï.
  • Cooking and meal logistic : I like to organize some banquets (up to fifty people for now).




From birth to secondary school
Ecole Stéphane Pitard, Collège Jules Ferry, Lycée Balzac.
17/12/1992 - August 2010

La Rochelle

Higher School Preparatory Classes
Lycée Jean Dautet : MPSI - MP.
September 2010 - June 2012


From bachelor to doctorale degree
UFR de Mathématique et d'Informatique de l'Université de Strasbourg : Licence et master en mathématiques.

Master thesis on the first book, of Nicolas Bourbaki, about the integration, under the supervision of Norbert Schappacher.

September 2012 - Today