One of the outstanding voices of his generation, David Foster Wallace has won a large and devoted following for the intellectual ambition and bravura style of his fiction and essays. Now he brings his considerable talents to the history of one of math's most enduring puzzles: the seemingly paradoxical nature of infinity. Is infinity a valid ...
One of the outstanding voices of his generation, David Foster Wallace has won a large and devoted following for the intellectual ambition and bravura style of his fiction and essays. Now he brings his considerable talents to the history of one of math's most enduring puzzles: the seemingly paradoxical nature of infinity. Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? The nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's answer to this question not only surprised him but also shook the very foundations upon which math had been built. Cantor's counterintuitive discovery of a progression of larger and larger infinities created controversy in his time and may have hastened his mental breakdown, but it also helped lead to the development of set theory, analytic philosophy, and even computer technology.
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"Dazed and Confused." Maybe if Brian Greene was around to explain this to me, I'd get it. Another more mathematically qualified reader may find this exposition quite delightful, as I have found other DFW writings, but this one I simply could not handle. The extensive equations, etc., left me numb and I had to, reluctantly, set it aside. I was hoping for more prose, less school. Perhaps I've just gotten old and impatient and should stick to lobster and tennis.
Aug 21, 2009
More IS More
DF Wallace blows the lid off of everything we (laymen) thought we knew. The care and feeding that he provided to get into the heart of infinity issues was most commendable. A must read for anyone interested in hyperspace.
Jan 22, 2009
For the Mathematically inclined,or curious
This book is unique in my experience. David Foster Wallace,known best for his novels, was educated as a mathematician. In this book he addresses and explains,in an informal, easy-rolling,innovating style, one of the most confounding of mathematical concepts,that of infinity. Beginning with basic concepts he progresses to reveal the meaning and explain the work of Georg Cantor and transfinite numbers. If you have a taste for popularized science and a curiousity about sophisticated mathematics,you might enjoy thi book. I certainly did.
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