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{{For|other uses of "Infinity" and "Infinite"}}{{pp-move-indef}}File:Infinite.svg|thumb|200px|right|The infinity symbolinfinity symbolInfinity (symbol: {{math|âˆž|size=150%}}) is a concept describing something without any bound or larger than any natural number. Philosophers have speculated about the nature of the infinite, for example Zeno of Elea, who proposed many paradoxes involving infinity, and Eudoxus of Cnidus, who used the idea of infinitely small quantities in his method of exhaustion. Modern mathematics uses the general concept of infinity in the solution of many practical and theoretical problems, such as in calculus and set theory, and the idea is also used in physics and the other sciences.In mathematics, "infinity" is often treated as a number (i.e., it counts or measures things: "an infinite number of terms") but it is not the same sort of number as either a natural or a real number.Georg Cantor formalized many ideas related to infinity and infinite sets during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the theory he developed, there are infinite sets of different sizes (called cardinalities).BOOK, The Princeton Companion to Mathematics, Timothy, Gowers, June, Barrow-Green, Imre, Leader, Princeton University Press, 2008, 0-691-11880-9, 616,weblink no,weblink 2016-06-03, Extract of page 616 {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20160501221357weblink |date=2016-05-01 }}
For example, the set of integers is countably infinite, while the infinite set of real numbers is uncountable.{{harvnb|Maddox|2002|loc=pp. 113 â€“117}}

## History

Ancient cultures had various ideas about the nature of infinity. The ancient Indians and Greeks did not define infinity in precise formalism as does modern mathematics, and instead approached infinity as a philosophical concept.

### Early Indian

The Jain mathematical text Surya Prajnapti (c. 4thâ€“3rd century BCE) classifies all numbers into three sets: enumerable, innumerable, and infinite. Each of these was further subdivided into three orders:BOOK, Ian Stewart, Infinity: a Very Short Introduction,weblink March 23, 2017, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-875523-4, 117, no,weblink April 3, 2017,
• Enumerable: lowest, intermediate, and highest
• Innumerable: nearly innumerable, truly innumerable, and innumerably innumerable
• Infinite: nearly infinite, truly infinite, infinitely infinite
In this work, two basic types of infinite numbers are distinguished. On both physical and ontological grounds, a distinction was made between {{IAST|asaá¹ƒkhyÄta}} ("countless, innumerable") and ananta ("endless, unlimited"), between rigidly bounded and loosely bounded infinities.JOURNAL, Dutta, Bidyarthi, Ranganathan's elucidation of subject in the light of 'Infinity (âˆž)', Annals of Library and Information Studies, December 2015, 62, 255â€“264,weblink 16 May 2017,

### 17th century

European mathematicians started using infinite numbers and expressions in a systematic fashion in the 17th century. In 1655 John Wallis first used the notation infty for such a number in his De sectionibus conicis and exploited it in area calculations by dividing the region into infinitesimal strips of width on the order of tfrac{1}{infty}.{{harvnb|Cajori|1993|loc=Sec. 421, Vol. II, pg. 44}} But in Arithmetica infinitorum (1655 also) he indicates infinite series, infinite products and infinite continued fractions by writing down a few terms or factors and then appending "&c." For example, "1, 6, 12, 18, 24, &c."{{harvnb|Cajori|1993|loc=Sec. 435, Vol. II, pg. 58}}In 1699 Isaac Newton wrote about equations with an infinite number of terms in his work De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum infinitas.BOOK, Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics 1640-1940, Ivor, Grattan-Guinness, Elsevier, 2005, 978-0-08-045744-4, 62,weblink no,weblink 2016-06-03, Extract of page 62

## Mathematics

Hermann Weyl opened a mathematico-philosophic address given in 1930 with:{{citation|first=Hermann|last=Weyl|title=Levels of Infinity / Selected Writings on Mathematics and Philosophy|editor=Peter Pesic|year=2012|publisher=Dover|isbn=978-0-486-48903-2|page=17}}

### Infinity symbol

The infinity symbol infty (sometimes called the lemniscate) is a mathematical symbol representing the concept of infinity. The symbol is encoded in Unicode at {{unichar|221E|infinity|html=}} and in LaTeX as infty.It was introduced in 1655 by John Wallis,{{citation
| last = Scott
| first = Joseph Frederick
| edition = 2
| isbn = 0-8284-0314-7
| page = 24
| publisher = American Mathematical Society
| title = The mathematical work of John Wallis, D.D., F.R.S., (1616â€“1703)
| year = 1981
| archivedate = 2016-05-09
| df =
}}{{citation
| last = Martin-LÃ¶f | first = Per | author-link = Per Martin-LÃ¶f
| contribution = Mathematics of infinity
| doi = 10.1007/3-540-52335-9_54
| location = Berlin
| mr = 1064143
| pages = 146â€“197
| publisher = Springer
| series = Lecture Notes in Computer Science
| title = COLOG-88 (Tallinn, 1988)
| volume = 417
| year = 1990| isbn = 978-3-540-52335-2 }} and, since its introduction, has also been used outside mathematics in modern mysticism{{citation|title=Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities|first=Wendy Doniger|last=O'Flaherty|publisher=University of Chicago Press|year=1986|isbn=9780226618555|page=243|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=vhNNrX3bmo4C&pg=PA243|deadurl=no|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20160629143323weblink|archivedate=2016-06-29|df=}} and literary symbology.{{citation|title=Nabokov: The Mystery of Literary Structures|first=Leona|last=Toker|publisher=Cornell University Press|year=1989|isbn=9780801422119|page=159|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=Jud1q_NrqpcC&pg=PA159|deadurl=no|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20160509095701weblink|archivedate=2016-05-09|df=}}

### Calculus

Leibniz, one of the co-inventors of infinitesimal calculus, speculated widely about infinite numbers and their use in mathematics. To Leibniz, both infinitesimals and infinite quantities were ideal entities, not of the same nature as appreciable quantities, but enjoying the same properties in accordance with the Law of Continuity.SEP, continuity, Continuity and Infinitesimals, Bell, John Lane, John Lane Bell, JOURNAL
, Jesseph
, Douglas Michael
, 1998
, Leibniz on the Foundations of the Calculus: The Question of the Reality of Infinitesimal Magnitudes
, Perspectives on Science
, 6
, 1&2
, 6â€“40
, 1063-6145
, 42413222
, 16 February 2010
, 15 February 2010
, yes
,
,

#### Real analysis

In real analysis, the symbol infty, called "infinity", is used to denote an unbounded limit.{{harvnb|Taylor|1955|loc=p. 63}} x rightarrow infty means that x grows without bound, and x to -infty means the value of x is decreasing without bound. If f(t) â‰¥ 0 for every t, thenThese uses of infinity for integrals and series can be found in any standard calculus text, such as, {{harvnb|Swokowski|1983|pp=468â€“510}}
• int_{a}^{b} f(t), dt = infty means that f(t) does not bound a finite area from a to b
• int_{-infty}^{infty} f(t), dt = infty means that the area under f(t) is infinite.
• int_{-infty}^{infty} f(t), dt = a means that the total area under f(t) is finite, and equals a
Infinity is also used to describe infinite series:
• sum_{i=0}^{infty} f(i) = a means that the sum of the infinite series converges to some real value a.
• sum_{i=0}^{infty} f(i) = infty means that the sum of the infinite series diverges in the specific sense that the partial sums grow without bound.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}
Infinity can be used not only to define a limit but as a value in the extended real number system. Points labeled +infty and -infty can be added to the topological space of the real numbers, producing the two-point compactification of the real numbers. Adding algebraic properties to this gives us the extended real numbers.{{citation
| last1 = Aliprantis
| first1 = Charalambos D.
| last2 = Burkinshaw
| first2 = Owen
| edition = 3rd
| isbn = 0-12-050257-7
| location = San Diego, CA
| mr = 1669668
| page = 29
| publisher = Academic Press, Inc.
| title = Principles of Real Analysis
| year = 1998
| archivedate = 2015-05-15
| df =
}} We can also treat +infty and -infty as the same, leading to the one-point compactification of the real numbers, which is the real projective line.{{harvnb|Gemignani|1990|loc=p. 177}} Projective geometry also refers to a line at infinity in plane geometry, a plane at infinity in three-dimensional space, and a hyperplane at infinity for general dimensions, each consisting of points at infinity.{{citation|first1=Albrecht|last1=Beutelspacher|first2=Ute|last2=Rosenbaum|title=Projective Geometry / from foundations to applications|year=1998|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=978-0-521-48364-3|page=27}}

#### Complex analysis

File:Riemann sphere1.svg|thumb|right|250px|By stereographic projection, the complex plane can be "wrapped" onto a sphere, with the top point of the sphere corresponding to infinity. This is called the Riemann sphereRiemann sphereIn complex analysis the symbol infty, called "infinity", denotes an unsigned infinite limit. x rightarrow infty means that the magnitude |x| of x grows beyond any assigned value. A point labeled infty can be added to the complex plane as a topological space giving the one-point compactification of the complex plane. When this is done, the resulting space is a one-dimensional complex manifold, or Riemann surface, called the extended complex plane or the Riemann sphere. Arithmetic operations similar to those given above for the extended real numbers can also be defined, though there is no distinction in the signs (therefore one exception is that infinity cannot be added to itself). On the other hand, this kind of infinity enables division by zero, namely z/0 = infty for any nonzero complex number z. In this context it is often useful to consider meromorphic functions as maps into the Riemann sphere taking the value of infty at the poles. The domain of a complex-valued function may be extended to include the point at infinity as well. One important example of such functions is the group of MÃ¶bius transformations.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}

### Nonstandard analysis

(File:NÃºmeros hiperreales.png|450px|thumb|Infinitesimals (Îµ) and infinites (Ï‰) on the hyperreal number line (1/Îµ = Ï‰/1))The original formulation of infinitesimal calculus by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz used infinitesimal quantities. In the twentieth century, it was shown that this treatment could be put on a rigorous footing through various logical systems, including smooth infinitesimal analysis and nonstandard analysis. In the latter, infinitesimals are invertible, and their inverses are infinite numbers. The infinities in this sense are part of a hyperreal field; there is no equivalence between them as with the Cantorian transfinites. For example, if H is an infinite number, then H + H = 2H and H + 1 are distinct infinite numbers. This approach to non-standard calculus is fully developed in {{harvtxt|Keisler|1986}}.

### Set theory

(File:Infinity paradoxon - one-to-one correspondence between infinite set and proper subset.gif|thumb|One-to-one correspondence between infinite set and proper subset)A different form of "infinity" are the ordinal and cardinal infinities of set theory. Georg Cantor developed a system of transfinite numbers, in which the first transfinite cardinal is aleph-null (â„µ0), the cardinality of the set of natural numbers. This modern mathematical conception of the quantitative infinite developed in the late nineteenth century from work by Cantor, Gottlob Frege, Richard Dedekind and others, using the idea of collections, or sets.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}Dedekind's approach was essentially to adopt the idea of one-to-one correspondence as a standard for comparing the size of sets, and to reject the view of Galileo (which derived from Euclid) that the whole cannot be the same size as the part (however, see Galileo's paradox where he concludes that positive integers which are squares and all positive integers are the same size). An infinite set can simply be defined as one having the same size as at least one of its proper parts; this notion of infinity is called Dedekind infinite. The diagram gives an example: viewing lines as infinite sets of points, the left half of the lower blue line can be mapped in a one-to-one manner (green correspondences) to the higher blue line, and, in turn, to the whole lower blue line (red correspondences); therefore the whole lower blue line and its left half have the same cardinality, i.e. "size".{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}Cantor defined two kinds of infinite numbers: ordinal numbers and cardinal numbers. Ordinal numbers may be identified with well-ordered sets, or counting carried on to any stopping point, including points after an infinite number have already been counted. Generalizing finite and the ordinary infinite sequences which are maps from the positive integers leads to mappings from ordinal numbers, and transfinite sequences. Cardinal numbers define the size of sets, meaning how many members they contain, and can be standardized by choosing the first ordinal number of a certain size to represent the cardinal number of that size. The smallest ordinal infinity is that of the positive integers, and any set which has the cardinality of the integers is countably infinite. If a set is too large to be put in one to one correspondence with the positive integers, it is called uncountable. Cantor's views prevailed and modern mathematics accepts actual infinity.BOOK, The Infinite, A. W., Moore, Routledge, 1991, {{page needed|date=June 2014}} Certain extended number systems, such as the hyperreal numbers, incorporate the ordinary (finite) numbers and infinite numbers of different sizes.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}

#### Cardinality of the continuum

One of Cantor's most important results was that the cardinality of the continuum mathbf c is greater than that of the natural numbers {aleph_0}; that is, there are more real numbers R than natural numbers N. Namely, Cantor showed that mathbf{c} = 2^{aleph_0} > {aleph_0} (see Cantor's diagonal argument or Cantor's first uncountability proof).JOURNAL, Dauben
, Joseph
, Georg Cantor and the Battle for Transfinite Set Theory
, 9th ACMS Conference Proceedings
, 1993
, 4
, PDF,
The continuum hypothesis states that there is no cardinal number between the cardinality of the reals and the cardinality of the natural numbers, that is, mathbf{c} = aleph_1 = beth_1 (see Beth one). This hypothesis can neither be proved nor disproved within the widely accepted Zermeloâ€“Fraenkel set theory, even assuming the Axiom of Choice.{{harvnb|Cohen|1963|p=1143}}Cardinal arithmetic can be used to show not only that the number of points in a real number line is equal to the number of points in any segment of that line, but that this is equal to the number of points on a plane and, indeed, in any finite-dimensional space.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}File:Peanocurve.svg|thumb|The first three steps of a fractal construction whose limit is a space-filling curvespace-filling curveThe first of these results is apparent by considering, for instance, the tangent function, which provides a one-to-one correspondence between the interval (âˆ’Ï€/2, Ï€/2) and R (see also Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel). The second result was proved by Cantor in 1878, but only became intuitively apparent in 1890, when Giuseppe Peano introduced the space-filling curves, curved lines that twist and turn enough to fill the whole of any square, or cube, or hypercube, or finite-dimensional space. These curves can be used to define a one-to-one correspondence between the points on one side of a square and the points in the square.{{harvnb|Sagan|1994|pp=10â€“12}}

### Geometry and topology

Infinite-dimensional spaces are widely used in geometry and topology, particularly as classifying spaces, such as Eilenbergâˆ’MacLane spaces. Common examples are the infinite-dimensional complex projective space K(Z,2) and the infinite-dimensional real projective space K(Z/2Z,1).{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}

### Fractals

The structure of a fractal object is reiterated in its magnifications. Fractals can be magnified indefinitely without losing their structure and becoming "smooth"; they have infinite perimetersâ€”some with infinite, and others with finite surface areas. One such fractal curve with an infinite perimeter and finite surface area is the Koch snowflake.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}

### Mathematics without infinity

Leopold Kronecker was skeptical of the notion of infinity and how his fellow mathematicians were using it in the 1870s and 1880s. This skepticism was developed in the philosophy of mathematics called finitism, an extreme form of mathematical philosophy in the general philosophical and mathematical schools of constructivism and intuitionism.{{harvnb|Kline|1972|pp=1197â€“1198}}

## Physics

In physics, approximations of real numbers are used for continuous measurements and natural numbers are used for discrete measurements (i.e. counting). It is therefore assumed by physicists that no measurable quantity could have an infinite value, {{Citation needed|date=February 2008}} for instance by taking an infinite value in an extended real number system, or by requiring the counting of an infinite number of events. It is, for example, presumed impossible for any type of body to have infinite mass or infinite energy. Concepts of infinite things such as an infinite plane wave exist, but there are no experimental means to generate them.Doric Lenses {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20130124011604weblink |date=2013-01-24 }} â€“ Application Note â€“ Axicons â€“ 2. Intensity Distribution. Retrieved 7 April 2014.

### Theoretical applications of physical infinity

The practice of refusing infinite values for measurable quantities does not come from a priori or ideological motivations, but rather from more methodological and pragmatic motivations {{Disputed inline|date=November 2015}} {{Citation needed|date=February 2008}}. One of the needs of any physical and scientific theory is to give usable formulas that correspond to or at least approximate reality. As an example, if any object of infinite gravitational mass were to exist, any usage of the formula to calculate the gravitational force would lead to an infinite result, which would be of no benefit since the result would be always the same regardless of the position and the mass of the other object. The formula would be useful neither to compute the force between two objects of finite mass nor to compute their motions. If an infinite mass object were to exist, any object of finite mass would be attracted with infinite force (and hence acceleration) by the infinite mass object, which is not what we can observe in reality. Sometimes infinite result of a physical quantity may mean that the theory being used to compute the result may be approaching the point where it fails. This may help to indicate the limitations of a theory.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}This point of view does not mean that infinity cannot be used in physics. For convenience's sake, calculations, equations, theories and approximations often use infinite series, unbounded functions, etc., and may involve infinite quantities. Physicists however require that the end result be physically meaningful. In quantum field theory infinities arise which need to be interpreted in such a way as to lead to a physically meaningful result, a process called renormalization.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}However, there are some theoretical circumstances where the end result is infinity. One example is the singularity in the description of black holes. Some solutions of the equations of the general theory of relativity allow for finite mass distributions of zero size, and thus infinite density. This is an example of what is called a mathematical singularity, or a point where a physical theory breaks down. This does not necessarily mean that physical infinities exist; it may mean simply that the theory is incapable of describing the situation properly. Two other examples occur in inverse-square force laws of the gravitational force equation of Newtonian gravity and Coulomb's law of electrostatics. At r=0 these equations evaluate to infinities.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}

## Logic

In logic an infinite regress argument is "a distinctively philosophical kind of argument purporting to show that a thesis is defective because it generates an infinite series when either (form A) no such series exists or (form B) were it to exist, the thesis would lack the role (e.g., of justification) that it is supposed to play."Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Second Edition, p. 429

## Arts, games, and cognitive sciences

Perspective artwork utilizes the concept of vanishing points, roughly corresponding to mathematical points at infinity, located at an infinite distance from the observer. This allows artists to create paintings that realistically render space, distances, and forms.BOOK, Mathematics for the nonmathematician, Morris, Kline, Courier Dover Publications, 1985, 0-486-24823-2, 229,weblink no,weblink 2016-05-16, , Section 10-7, p. 229 {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20160516173217weblink |date=2016-05-16 }}
Artist M. C. Escher is specifically known for employing the concept of infinity in his work in this and other ways.{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}
Variations of chess played on an unbounded board are called infinite chess.Infinite chess at the Chess Variant Pages {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20170402082426weblink |date=2017-04-02 }} An infinite chess scheme."Infinite Chess, PBS Infinite Series" {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20170407211614weblink |date=2017-04-07 }} PBS Infinite Series,with academic sources by J. Hamkins (infinite chess: ARXIV, 1302.4377, Evans, C. D. A, Transfinite game values in infinite chess, Joel David Hamkins, math.LO, 2013, and ARXIV, 1510.08155, Evans, C. D. A, A position in infinite chess with game value \$Ï‰^4\$, Joel David Hamkins, Norman Lewis Perlmutter, math.LO, 2015, ).Cognitive scientist George Lakoff considers the concept of infinity in mathematics and the sciences as a metaphor. This perspective is based on the basic metaphor of infinity (BMI), defined as the ever-increasing sequence .{{citation needed|date=April 2017}}The symbol is often used romantically to represent eternal love. Several types of jewelry are fashioned into the infinity shape for this purpose.{{Citation needed|date = January 2015}}

{{reflist|30em}}

## References

• {{citation|first=Florian|last=Cajori|title=A History of Mathematical Notations (Two Volumes Bound as One)|year=1993|origyear=1928 & 1929|publisher=Dover|isbn=978-0-486-67766-8}}
• {{citation|first=Michael C.|last=Gemignani|title=Elementary Topology|edition=2nd|publisher=Dover|year=1990|isbn=0-486-66522-4}}
• {{citation|first=H. Jerome|last=Keisler|authorlink=Howard Jerome Keisler|title=Elementary Calculus: An Approach Using Infinitesimals|edition=2nd|year=1986|url=http://www.math.wisc.edu/~keisler/calc.html}}
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• {{citation |title=Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times |last=Kline |first=Morris |authorlink=Morris Kline |year=1972 |publisher=Oxford University Press |location= New York|isbn=0-19-506135-7 |pages=1197â€“1198}}
• {{citation |title=The Principles of Mathematics |last=Russell |first=Bertrand |authorlink=Bertrand Russell |year=1996 |origyear=1903 |publisher=Norton |location=New York, NY |isbn=978-0-393-31404-5 |oclc=247299160}}
• {{citation | first=Hans | last=Sagan | title=Space-Filling Curves | publisher=Springer | year=1994 | isbn=978-1-4612-0871-6}}
• {{citation|first=Earl W.|last=Swokowski|title=Calculus with Analytic Geometry|edition=Alternate|year=1983|publisher=Prindle, Weber & Schmidt|isbn=0-87150-341-7}}
• {{citation|first=Angus E.|last=Taylor|title=Advanced Calculus|year=1955|publisher=Blaisdell Publishing Company}}
• {{citation | first=David Foster | last=Wallace | author-link=David Foster Wallace | title=Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity | publisher=Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc. | year=2004 | isbn=0-393-32629-2}}

## Sources

• BOOK, Amir D., Aczel, The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity, Pocket Books, New York, 2001, 0-7434-2299-6,
• D. P. Agrawal (2000). Ancient Jaina Mathematics: an Introduction, Infinity Foundation.
• Bell, J. L.: Continuity and infinitesimals. Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy. Revised 2009.
• {{Citation |last=Cohen |first=Paul |title=The Independence of the Continuum Hypothesis |doi=10.1073/pnas.50.6.1143 |journal=Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America |volume= 50|issue=6 |pages=1143â€“1148 |year=1963 |pmid=16578557 |pmc=221287|bibcode=1963PNAS...50.1143C }}.
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