A small group of novelists and mathematicians founded in France by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais for the purpose of exploring the creative interaction between the respective fields. The group's name is an acronym derived from the very *'pataphysical sounding OUvroir de LIttérature POtentielle (workshop on potential literature), a fact that was surely not accidental given that many of its members were also involved in the Collège de 'pataphysique, of which it is in fact an offshoot. Although the group itself has never had a particularly high profile, a number of its members have—the most prominent are undoubtedly Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec, and Italo Calvino. The group used mathematical formulae to create what Perec referred to as writing machines. So for example the writers might adopt the constraint that they cannot use a certain letter, or they might write following the rule that each successive word in a sentence must be a letter longer than the previous word and so on.
W. Motte (ed.)Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature (1998).