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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103
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1answer
3k 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 ...
69
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
66
votes
15answers
6k 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 ...
66
votes
10answers
3k 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" and came across the concept of countable and uncountable infinities, but ...
56
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. ...
56
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
54
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
41
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
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 ...
29
votes
5answers
1k 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. ...
28
votes
4answers
1k 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?
28
votes
9answers
8k 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
27
votes
6answers
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 ...
25
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 ...
25
votes
1answer
611 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
937 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
345 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
641 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
490 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
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 ...
21
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 ...
21
votes
2answers
558 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?
20
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 ...
20
votes
1answer
3k 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, ...
20
votes
2answers
933 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 ...
19
votes
9answers
883 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
2answers
279 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?
19
votes
3answers
613 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
267 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. ...
19
votes
1answer
435 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, ...
19
votes
2answers
817 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 + ...
19
votes
3answers
613 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
581 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

For every infinite $S$, $|S|=|S\times S|$ implies the Axiom of choice

How to prove the following conclusion: [For any infinite set $S$,there exists a bijection $f:S\to S \times S$] implies the Axiom of choice. Can you give a proof without the theory of ordinal ...
18
votes
2answers
946 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 $z_n \to a$ ...
18
votes
1answer
811 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
931 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
283 views

Covering $\mathbb R^2$ with function graphs

Suppose we have a countable family of function graphs (each function is $\mathbb R\to\mathbb R$, not necessary continuous). Obviously, they cannot cover the whole plane $\mathbb R^2$, because they ...
17
votes
4answers
783 views

Mathematical statement with simple independence proof from $\mathsf{ZF}$

Is it possible for someone with little set-theoretic knowledge (e.g., me) to understand the proofs that either $\mathsf{CH}$ or $\mathsf{AC}$ is independent of $\mathsf{ZF}$? I am looking for any ...
17
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
591 views

Why hasn't GCH become a standard axiom of ZFC?

I've never seen a text that includes GCH in the ZFC axioms. I presume this means that GCH has not achieved widespread acceptance. This seems surprising to me, given that: The cardinal numbers ...
17
votes
4answers
484 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
644 views

Implication and Interpretation of Banach Tarski

As I understand, the Banach-Tarski paradox says a ball in 3-space may be decomposed into finitely many pieces and reassembled into two balls each of the same size as the original. Despite being called ...
16
votes
3answers
878 views

Why use ZF over NFU?

Forgive me if this question is quite naïve; I've studied axiomatic set theory in the context of ZF, but my knowledge of NF(U) goes little beyond its axioms, what it means for a formula to be ...
16
votes
2answers
329 views

Is $(\pmb{1} + \pmb{\eta})\cdot\pmb{\omega_1} = \pmb{1} + \pmb{\eta}\cdot\pmb{\omega_1}$?

$\pmb{\eta}$ - order type of $\mathbb{Q}$. $\pmb{1}$ - order type of a singleton set. $\pmb{\omega_0}$ - order type of $\mathbb{N}$. $\pmb{\omega_1}$ - order type of the first uncountable ordinal. ...
16
votes
1answer
689 views

Medial Limit of Mokobodzki (case of Banach Limit)

A classical Banach limit is very usefull concept for me, but there is a problem with the integration and even with the measurability, this means for a sequence $(f_n)_{n\in \mathbb{N}}$ of measurable ...
16
votes
5answers
720 views

Alternative set theories

This is a (soft!) question for students of set theory and their teachers. OK: ZFC is the canonical set theory we all know and love. But what other, alternative set theories, should a serious student ...