The infinite is a theme that recurs in human thought, in places as disparate as philosophy, architecture, literature and mathematics. We will look at how mathematics has been influenced by the infinite, and the ways in which it has come to terms with it. We will mostly look at what mathematicians call the theory of sets: can one infinite collection be called bigger than another? Are there fewer odd numbers than there are numbers? If there are bigger and smaller infinities, can we make sense of counting beyond infinity somehow (infinity plus one!)? We’ll also look at geometrical notions of infinity (do parallel lines meet somewhere?), and at the addition of infinite series of terms (Zeno’s paradoxes of Achilles and the Tortoise).
This course will be held Monday, March 23 – Thursday, April 9.