Portal:Mathematics
The Mathematics Portal
Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. It is used for calculation and considered as the most important subject. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.
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Carl Friedrich Gauss Image credit: C.A. Jensen (1792-1870) |
Carl Friedrich Gauss (30 April 1777 – 23 February 1855) was a German mathematician and scientist of profound genius who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, electricity, magnetism, astronomy and optics. Known as "the prince of mathematicians" and "greatest mathematician since antiquity", Gauss had a remarkable influence in many fields of mathematics and science and is ranked as one of history's most influential mathematicians.
Gauss was a child prodigy, of whom there are many anecdotes pertaining to his astounding precocity while a mere toddler, and made his first ground-breaking mathematical discoveries while still a teenager. He completed Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, his magnum opus, at the age of twenty-one (1798), though it wasn't published until 1801. This work was fundamental in consolidating number theory as a discipline and has shaped the field to the present day.
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This spiral diagram represents all ordinal numbers less than ω^{ω}. The first (outermost) turn of the spiral represents the finite ordinal numbers, which are the regular counting numbers starting with zero. As the spiral completes its first turn (at the top of the diagram), the ordinal numbers approach infinity, or more precisely ω, the first transfinite ordinal number (identified with the set of all counting numbers, a "countably infinite" set, the cardinality of which corresponds to the first transfinite cardinal number, called ℵ_{0}). The ordinal numbers continue from this point in the second turn of the spiral with ω + 1, ω + 2, and so forth. (A special ordinal arithmetic is defined to give meaning to these expressions, since the + symbol here does not represent the addition of two real numbers.) Halfway through the second turn of the spiral (at the bottom) the numbers approach ω + ω, or ω · 2. The ordinal numbers continue with ω · 2 + 1 through ω · 2 + ω = ω · 3 (three-quarters of the way through the second turn, or at the "9 o'clock" position), then through ω · 4, and so forth, up to ω · ω = ω^{2} at the top. (As with addition, the multiplication and exponentiation operations have definitions that work with transfinite numbers.) The ordinals continue in the third turn of the spiral with ω^{2} + 1 through ω^{2} + ω, then through ω^{2} + ω^{2} = ω^{2} · 2, up to ω^{2} · ω = ω^{3} at the top of the third turn. Continuing in this way, the ordinals increase by one power of ω for each turn of the spiral, approaching ω^{ω} in the middle of the diagram, as the spiral makes a countably infinite number of turns. This process can actually continue (not shown in this diagram) through and , and so on, approaching the first epsilon number, ε_{0}. Each of these ordinals is still countable, and therefore equal in cardinality to ω. After uncountably many of these transfinite ordinals, the first uncountable ordinal is reached, corresponding to only the second infinite cardinal . The identification of this larger cardinality with the cardinality of the set of real numbers can neither be proved nor disproved within the standard version of axiomatic set theory called Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory, whether or not one also assumes the axiom of choice.
Did you know -
- ...that the regular trigonometric functions and the hyperbolic trigonometric functions can be related without using complex numbers through the Gudermannian function?
- ...that the Catalan numbers solve a number of problems in combinatorics such as the number of ways to completely parenthesize an algebraic expression with n+1 factors?
- ...that a ball can be cut up and reassembled into two balls, each the same size as the original (Banach-Tarski paradox)?
- ...that it is impossible to devise a single formula involving only polynomials and radicals for solving an arbitrary quintic equation?
- ...that Euler found 59 more amicable numbers while for 2000 years, only 3 pairs had been found before him?
- ...that you cannot knot strings in 4 dimensions, but you can knot 2-dimensional surfaces, such as spheres?
- ...that there are 6 unsolved mathematics problems whose solutions will earn you one million US dollars each?
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