A large part of modern mathematics has to do with how we conceptualize and manage the idea of infinity. This occurs in different places: the infinity of the horizon line that appeared with the development of perspective drawing, the infinitely small and infinitely many quantities of calculus, the infinite depth of fractals. This class will survey some of these concepts and briefly talk about how they are formalized in mathematics. There will be a particular emphasis on Cantor’s set theory, which was developed in the late nineteenth century, and which provided new logical tools and a new language to talk about infinite quantities. No mathematical background or knowledge will be assumed.
(April 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, and May 1)