This tag is for set theory topics typically studied at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level. These include cofinality, axioms of ZFC, axiom of choice, forcing, set-theoretic independence, large cardinals, models of set theory, ultrafilters, ultrapowers, constructible universe, inner model ...

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150
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0answers
5k views

Does the open mapping theorem imply the Baire category theorem?

A nice observation by C.E. Blair1, 2, 3 shows that the Baire category theorem for complete metric spaces is equivalent to the axiom of (countable) dependent choice. On the other hand, the three ...
83
votes
10answers
4k views

Different kinds of infinities?

Can someone explain to me how there can be different kinds of infinities? I was reading "The man who loved only numbers" by Paul Hoffman and came across the concept of countable and uncountable ...
79
votes
16answers
8k views

Why did mathematicians take Russell's paradox seriously?

Though I've understood the logic behind's Russell's paradox for long enough, I have to admit I've never really understood why mathematicians and mathematical historians thought it so important. Most ...
79
votes
4answers
6k views

What are the Axiom of Choice and Axiom of Determinacy?

Would someone please explain: What does the Axiom of Choice mean, intuitively? What does the Axiom of Determinancy mean, intuitively, and how does it contradict the Axiom of Choice? as simple ...
64
votes
5answers
3k views

What are the issues in modern set theory?

This is spurred by the comments to my answer here. I'm unfamiliar with set theory beyond Cohen's proof of the independence of the continuum hypothesis from ZFC. In particular, I haven't witnessed ...
64
votes
1answer
4k views

How do we know an $ \aleph_1 $ exists at all?

I have two questions, actually. The first is as the title says: how do we know there exists an infinite cardinal such that there exists no other cardinals between it and $ \aleph_0 $? (We would have ...
63
votes
7answers
12k views

Can you explain the “Axiom of choice” in simple terms?

As I'm sure many of you do, I read the XKCD webcomic regularly. The most recent one involves a joke about the Axiom of Choice, which I didn't get. I went to Wikipedia to see what the Axiom of ...
62
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is $\omega$ the smallest $\infty$?

I am comfortable with the different sizes of infinities and Cantor's "diagonal argument" to prove that the set of all subsets of an infinite set has cardinality strictly greater than the set itself. ...
41
votes
13answers
14k views

Why is “the set of all sets” a paradox?

I've heard of some other paradoxes involving sets (ie, "the set of all sets that do not contain themselves") and I understand how paradoxes arise from them. But this one I do not understand. Why is ...
35
votes
1answer
460 views

Over ZF, does “every Hilbert space have a basis” imply AC?

I know there is a similar result due to Blass [1] that over ZF, "every vector space has a (Hamel) basis" implies AC. Looking around, however, I can't find any results on the question for Hilbert ...
34
votes
7answers
2k views

Why is the Continuum Hypothesis (not) true?

I'm making my way through Thomas W Hungerfords's seminal text "Abstract Algebra 2nd Edition w/ Sets, Logics and Categories" where he makes the statement that the Continuum Hypothesis (There does not ...
32
votes
3answers
8k views

First-Order Logic vs. Second-Order Logic

Wikipedia describes the first-order vs. second-order logic as follows: First-order logic uses only variables that range over individuals (elements of the domain of discourse); second-order logic ...
32
votes
4answers
2k views

If all sets were finite, how could the real numbers be defined?

An extreme form of constructivism is called finitisim. In this form, unlike the standard axiom system, infinite sets are not allowed. There are important mathematicians, such as Kronecker, who ...
31
votes
2answers
5k views

Is there a known well ordering of the reals?

So, from what I understand, the axiom of choice is equivalent to the claim that every set can be well ordered. A set is well ordered by a relation, $R$ , if every subset has a least element. My ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

Does every set have a group structure?

I know that there is no vector space having precisely $6$ elements. Does every set have a group structure?
30
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is it considered unlikely that there could be a contradiction in ZF/ZFC?

EDIT: No answer addresses the "bottleneck" question. It's not surprising to me because the question is vague. But I would like to know whether that is indeed the reason, or perhaps something else. ...
30
votes
3answers
1k views

Set Theoretic Definition of Numbers

I am reading the book by Goldrei on Classic Set Theory. My question is more of a clarification. It is on if we are overloading symbols in some cases. For instance, when we define $2$ as a natural ...
29
votes
2answers
848 views

When should I be doing cohomology?

Background: I'm a logic student with very little background in cohomology etc., so this question is fairly naive. Although mathematical logic is generally perceived as sitting off on its own, there ...
27
votes
5answers
1k views

Are there any nontrivial examples of contradictions arising in non-foundational or applied math due to naive set theory?

I understand that naive set theory, whose axioms are extensionality and unrestricted comprehension, is inconsistent, due to paradoxes like Russell, Curry, Cantor, and Burali-Forti. But these all ...
26
votes
4answers
1k views

Is Banach-Alaoglu equivalent to AC?

The Banach-Alaoglu theorem is well-known. It states that the closed unit ball in the dual space of a normed space is $\text{wk}^*$-compact. The proof relies heavily on Tychonoff's theorem. As I have ...
25
votes
9answers
2k views

Where to begin with foundations of mathematics

I would like to know more about the foundations of mathematics, but I can't really figure out where it all starts. If I look in a book on axiomatic set theory, then it seems to be assumed that one ...
25
votes
6answers
2k views

Foundation for analysis without axiom of choice?

Let's say I consider the Banach–Tarski paradox unacceptable, meaning that I would rather do all my mathematics without using the axiom of choice. As my foundation, I would presumably have to use ZF, ...
25
votes
1answer
635 views

Showing a filter on the Power set of $\mathbb{Z}$ is a one point Filter

Let $\mathcal{P}_0(X)$ the Power set of $X$ without the empty set and let $\dot{x}:=\{A\subseteq X: x \in A\}$ the one point filter generated by $x$. Furtermore let $$ \mathcal{A} := \{ f \in ...
24
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there a simple, constructive, 1-1 mapping between the reals and the irrationals?

Is there a simple, constructive, 1-1 mapping between the reals and the irrationals? I know that the Cantor–Bernstein–Schroeder theorem implies the existence of a 1-1 mapping between the reals and the ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

What are natural numbers?

What are the natural numbers? Is it a valid question at all? My understanding is that a set satisfying Peano axioms is called "the natural numbers" and from that one builds integers, rational ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is the continuum hypothesis believed to be false by the majority of modern set theorists?

A quote from Enderton: One might well question whether there is any meaningful sense in which one can say that the continuum hypothesis is either true or false for the "real" sets. Among those ...
22
votes
7answers
6k views

Difference between a class and a set

I know what a set is. I have no idea what a class is. As best as I can make out, every set is also a class, but a class can be "larger" than any set. (A so-called "proper class".) This obviously ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Continuity and the Axiom of Choice

In my introductory Analysis course, we learned two definitions of continuity. $(1)$ A function $f:E \to \mathbb{C}$ is continuous at $a$ if every sequence $(z_n) \in E$ such that $z_n \to a$ ...
22
votes
3answers
760 views

Are there uncountably many non homeomorphic ways to topologize a countably infinite set?

Today I was fooling around a bit trying to count the topologies on a finite set. I didn't make much progress, so I did some googling and quickly discovered it is an open problem to give a closed form ...
22
votes
1answer
4k views

Cardinality of Borel sigma algebra

It seems it's well known that if a sigma algebra is generated by countably many sets, then the cardinality of it is either finite or $c$ (the cardinality of continuum). But it seems hard to prove it, ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

Algebraic closure for $\mathbb{Q}$ or $\mathbb{F}_p$ without Choice?

I know the usual proof of the existence of an algebraic closure for any field using Zorn's Lemma. The answer to this previous question makes it clear that in general, some nonconstructive axiom (not ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the fundamental theorem of calculus independent of ZF?

By the fundamental theorem of calculus I mean the following. Theorem: Let $B$ be a Banach space and $f : [a, b] \to B$ be a continuously differentiable function (this means that we can write $f(x + ...
22
votes
2answers
386 views

About translating subsets of $\Bbb R^2.$

I'm looking for a pair of sets $A,B$ of points in $\Bbb R^2$ such that $A$ is a union of translated (only translations are allowed) copies of $B;$ $B$ is a union of translated copies of $A;$ $A$ is ...
22
votes
1answer
784 views

Universally measurable sets of $\mathbb{R}^2$

$$\text{Is }{{\cal B}(\mathbb{R}^2})^u={{\cal B}(\mathbb{R}})^u\times {{\cal B}(\mathbb{R}})^u\,?\tag1$$ Is the $\sigma$-algebra of universally measurable sets on $\mathbb{R}^2$ equal to the product ...
22
votes
1answer
555 views

Model existence for infinitary logics

One of the problems of infinitary logic is that it is possible for compactness to fail in a spectacular way: for example, one can concoct an inconsistent set of axioms whose proper subsets are all ...
21
votes
1answer
330 views

What are some good open problems about countable ordinals?

After reading some books about ordinals I had an impressions that area below $\omega_1$ is thoroughly studied and there is not much new research can be done in it. I hope my impression was wrong. ...
21
votes
1answer
611 views

Is there any mathematical meaning in this set-theoretical joke?

Recently I heard a joke: If an object exists, mathematicians call it a set and study it. But if an object does not exist, mathematicians call it a proper class and study it anyway. I wonder, ...
21
votes
2answers
572 views

Are there any areas of mathematics that are known to be impossible to formalise in terms of set theory?

Are there any areas of mathematics that are known to be impossible to formalise in terms of set theory?
21
votes
2answers
1k views

How can there be alternatives for the foundations of mathematics?

How can set theory and category theory both be plausible theories for the foundations of mathematics? If these two theories are not mathematically equivalent, does it not mean that the rest of ...
20
votes
2answers
315 views

Does $\mathfrak{(p<q)\land(r<s)}$ imply $\mathfrak{p^r<q^s}$?

Does $\mathfrak{(p<q)\land(r<s)}$ imply $\mathfrak{p^r<q^s}$, where $\mathfrak{ p,q,r,s}$ are cardinal numbers? Is it possible to prove in $\mathsf{ZFC}$ that there is a counterexample?
20
votes
1answer
871 views

Bijection between $2^{\mathbb R}$ and $\mathbb{ R ^ R}$

I'm well aware of the standard proof based on cardinality arithmetic to show that these two sets have the same cardinality and the question of defining a bijection between the two sets came up. I ...
20
votes
1answer
603 views

Are there areas of mathematics (current or future) that cannot be formalized in set theory?

I often read that ZFC can formalize "most" of everyday mathematics, but I could never find an example which it cannot. The closest I got is differential geometry (DF), where some article mentions that ...
20
votes
3answers
692 views

Conflicting definitions of “continuity” of ordinal-valued functions on the ordinals

I've encountered the following definition in Kunen, Levy, and other places: A function $\mathbf{F}:\mathbf{ON}\to\mathbf{ON}$ is continuous iff for every limit ordinal $\lambda$, we have ...
20
votes
1answer
739 views

What are some good intuitions for understanding Souslin's operation $\mathcal{A}$?

What are some good intuitions for understanding Souslin's operation $\mathcal{A}$? Recall the definition: Let $S = \mathbb{N^{<N}} = \bigcup_{n = 1}^\infty \mathbb{N}^n$ be the set of ...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

Category of all categories vs. Set of all sets

In naieve set theory, you quickly run into existence trouble if you try to do meta-things things like take "the set of all sets". For example, does the set of all sets that don't contain themselves ...
19
votes
9answers
1k views

What is it about modern set theory that prevents us from defining the set of all sets which are not members of themselves?

We can clearly define a set of sets. I feel intuitively like we ought to define sets which do contain themselves; the set of all sets which contain sets as elements, for instance. Does that set ...
19
votes
4answers
658 views

Intuition for $\omega^\omega$

I'm trying to understand the ordinal number $\omega^\omega$ and I'm having a hard time. I think I understand what $\omega^2$ is. It's what I would get if I took countably many copies of $\omega$ and ...
19
votes
1answer
1k views

Cardinality of a Hamel basis

What is the cardinality of a Hamel basis of $\ell_1(\mathbb{R})$? Is it deducible in ZFC that it is seemingly continuum? Does it follow from this that each Banach space of density $\leqslant ...
19
votes
4answers
692 views

Was there anybody before Cantor who conjectured existence of infinities of different sizes?

Georg Cantor is formally known as the first one who discovered existence of infinities of different sizes. But the history of thinking about the concept of "infinity" in maths and philosophy goes back ...
19
votes
1answer
545 views

On the large cardinals foundations of categories

(This was cross-posted to MathOverflow.) It is well-known that there are difficulties in developing basic category theory within the confines of $\sf ZFC$. One can overcome these problems when ...