Math Education Evolution: From Function to Set to Category

Interesting Math education evolves since 19th century.

“Elementary Math from An Advanced Standpoint” (3 volumes) was proposed by German Göttingen School Felix Klein (19th century) :
1)  Math teaching based on Function (graph) which is visible to students. This has influenced  all Secondary school Math worldwide.

2) Geometry = Group

After WW1, French felt being  behind the German school, the “Bourbaki” Ecole Normale Supérieure students rewrote all Math teachings – aka “Abstract Math” – based on the structure “Set” as the foundation to build further algebraic structures (group, ring, field, vector space…) and all Math.

After WW2, the American prof MacLane & Eilenburg summarised all these Bourbaki structures into one super-structure: “Category” (范畴) with a “morphism” (aka ‘relation’) between them.

Grothendieck proposed rewriting the Bourbaki Abstract Math from ‘Set’ to ‘Category’, but was rejected by the jealous Bourbaki founder Andre Weil.

Category is still a graduate syllabus Math,  also called “Abstract Nonsense”! It is very useful in IT  Functional Programming for “Artificial Intelligence” – the next revolution in “Our Human Brain” !


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