non-standard analysis

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non-standard analysis
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{{Use dmy dates|date=June 2019}}File:Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bernhard Christoph Francke.jpg|thumb|right| Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz argued that idealized numbers containing infinitesimalinfinitesimalThe history of calculus is fraught with philosophical debates about the meaning and logical validity of fluxions or infinitesimal numbers. The standard way to resolve these debates is to define the operations of calculus using epsilon–delta procedures rather than infinitesimals. Non-standard analysisNonstandard Analysis in Practice. Edited by Francine Diener, Marc Diener. Springer, 1995.Nonstandard Analysis, Axiomatically. By V. Vladimir Grigorevich Kanovei, Michael Reeken. Springer, 2004.Nonstandard Analysis for the Working Mathematician. Edited by Peter A. Loeb, Manfred P. H. Wolff. Springer, 2000. instead reformulates the calculus using a logically rigorous notion of infinitesimal numbers.Non-standard analysis was originated in the early 1960s by the mathematician Abraham Robinson.Non-standard Analysis. By Abraham Robinson. Princeton University Press, 1974.Abraham Robinson and Nonstandard Analysis: History, Philosophy, and Foundations of Mathematics. By Joseph W. Dauben. He wrote:... the idea of infinitely small or infinitesimal quantities seems to appeal naturally to our intuition. At any rate, the use of infinitesimals was widespread during the formative stages of the Differential and Integral Calculus. As for the objection ... that the distance between two distinct real numbers cannot be infinitely small, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz argued that the theory of infinitesimals implies the introduction of ideal numbers which might be infinitely small or infinitely large compared with the real numbers but which were to possess the same properties as the latterRobinson argued that this law of continuity of Leibniz's is a precursor of the transfer principle. Robinson continued:However, neither he nor his disciples and successors were able to give a rational development leading up to a system of this sort. As a result, the theory of infinitesimals gradually fell into disrepute and was replaced eventually by the classical theory of limits.Robinson, A.: Non-standard analysis. North-Holland Publishing Co., Amsterdam 1966.Robinson continues:It is shown in this book that Leibniz's ideas can be fully vindicated and that they lead to a novel and fruitful approach to classical Analysis and to many other branches of mathematics. The key to our method is provided by the detailed analysis of the relation between mathematical languages and mathematical structures which lies at the bottom of contemporary model theory.In 1973, intuitionist Arend Heyting praised non-standard analysis as "a standard model of important mathematical research".Heijting, A. (1973) "Address to Professor A. Robinson. At the occasion of the Brouwer memorial lecture given by Prof. A.Robinson on the 26th April 1973." Nieuw Arch. Wisk. (3) 21, pp. 134—137.


A non-zero element of an ordered field mathbb F is infinitesimal if and only if its absolute value is smaller than any element of mathbb F of the form frac{1}{n}, for n a standard natural number. Ordered fields that have infinitesimal elements are also called non-Archimedean. More generally, non-standard analysis is any form of mathematics that relies on non-standard models and the transfer principle. A field which satisfies the transfer principle for real numbers is a hyperreal field, and non-standard real analysis uses these fields as non-standard models of the real numbers.Robinson's original approach was based on these non-standard models of the field of real numbers. His classic foundational book on the subject Non-standard Analysis was published in 1966 and is still in print.BOOK, Robinson, Abraham, Non-standard analysis, 1996, Revised, Princeton University Press, 0-691-04490-2, On page 88, Robinson writes:The existence of non-standard models of arithmetic was discovered by Thoralf Skolem (1934). Skolem's method foreshadows the ultrapower construction [...]Several technical issues must be addressed to develop a calculus of infinitesimals. For example, it is not enough to construct an ordered field with infinitesimals. See the article on hyperreal numbers for a discussion of some of the relevant ideas.

Basic definitions

In this section we outline one of the simplest approaches to defining a hyperreal field ^*mathbb{R}. Let mathbb{R} be the field of real numbers, and let mathbb{N} be the semiring of natural numbers. Denote by mathbb{R}^{mathbb{N}} the set of sequences of real numbers. A field ^*mathbb{R} is defined as a suitable quotient of mathbb{R}^mathbb{N}, as follows. Take a nonprincipal ultrafilter F subset P(mathbb{N}). In particular, F contains the Fréchet filter. Consider a pair of sequences
u = (u_n), v = (v_n) in mathbb{R}^mathbb{N}
We say that u and v are equivalent if they coincide on a set of indices which is a member of the ultrafilter, or in formulas:
{n in mathbb{N} : u_n = v_n} in F
The quotient of mathbb{R}^mathbb{N} by the resulting equivalence relation is a hyperreal field ^*mathbb{R}, a situation summarized by the formula ^*mathbb{R} = {mathbb{R}^mathbb{N}}/{F}.


There are at least three reasons to consider non-standard analysis: historical, pedagogical, and technical.


Much of the earliest development of the infinitesimal calculus by Newton and Leibniz was formulated using expressions such as infinitesimal number and vanishing quantity. As noted in the article on hyperreal numbers, these formulations were widely criticized by George Berkeley and others. It was a challenge to develop a consistent theory of analysis using infinitesimals and the first person to do this in a satisfactory way was Abraham Robinson.In 1958 Curt Schmieden and Detlef Laugwitz published an Article "Eine Erweiterung der Infinitesimalrechnung"Curt Schmieden and Detlef Laugwitz: Eine Erweiterung der Infinitesimalrechnung, Mathematische Zeitschrift 69 (1958), 1-39 - "An Extension of Infinitesimal Calculus", which proposed a construction of a ring containing infinitesimals. The ring was constructed from sequences of real numbers. Two sequences were considered equivalent if they differed only in a finite number of elements. Arithmetic operations were defined elementwise. However, the ring constructed in this way contains zero divisors and thus cannot be a field.


H. Jerome Keisler, David Tall, and other educators maintain that the use of infinitesimals is more intuitive and more easily grasped by students than the "epsilon-delta" approach to analytic concepts.H. Jerome Keisler, (Elementary Calculus: An Infinitesimal Approach). First edition 1976; 2nd edition 1986: full text of 2nd edition This approach can sometimes provide easier proofs of results than the corresponding epsilon-delta formulation of the proof. Much of the simplification comes from applying very easy rules of nonstandard arithmetic, as follows:
infinitesimal × bounded = infinitesimal
infinitesimal + infinitesimal = infinitesimal
together with the transfer principle mentioned below.Another pedagogical application of non-standard analysis is Edward Nelson's treatment of the theory of stochastic processes.Edward Nelson: Radically Elementary Probability Theory, Princeton University Press, 1987, full text


Some recent work has been done in analysis using concepts from non-standard analysis, particularly in investigating limiting processes of statistics and mathematical physics. Sergio Albeverio et al.Sergio Albeverio, Jans Erik Fenstad, Raphael Høegh-Krohn, Tom Lindstrøm: Nonstandard Methods in Stochastic Analysis and Mathematical Physics, Academic Press 1986. discuss some of these applications.

Approaches to non-standard analysis

There are two very different approaches to non-standard analysis: the semantic or model-theoretic approach and the syntactic approach. Both these approaches apply to other areas of mathematics beyond analysis, including number theory, algebra and topology.Robinson's original formulation of non-standard analysis falls into the category of the semantic approach. As developed by him in his papers, it is based on studying models (in particular saturated models) of a theory. Since Robinson's work first appeared, a simpler semantic approach (due to Elias Zakon) has been developed using purely set-theoretic objects called superstructures. In this approach a model of a theory is replaced by an object called a superstructure {{math|V(S)}} over a set {{mvar|S}}. Starting from a superstructure {{math|V(S)}} one constructs another object {{math|*V(S)}} using the ultrapower construction together with a mapping {{math|V(S) → *V(S)}} that satisfies the transfer principle. The map * relates formal properties of {{math|V(S)}} and {{math|*V(S)}}. Moreover, it is possible to consider a simpler form of saturation called countable saturation. This simplified approach is also more suitable for use by mathematicians who are not specialists in model theory or logic.The syntactic approach requires much less logic and model theory to understand and use. This approach was developed in the mid-1970s by the mathematician Edward Nelson. Nelson introduced an entirely axiomatic formulation of non-standard analysis that he called Internal Set Theory (IST).Edward Nelson: Internal Set Theory: A New Approach to Nonstandard Analysis, Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, Vol. 83, Number 6, November 1977. A chapter on Internal Set Theory is available at weblink IST is an extension of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory (ZF) in that alongside the basic binary membership relation ∈, it introduces a new unary predicate standard, which can be applied to elements of the mathematical universe together with some axioms for reasoning with this new predicate.Syntactic non-standard analysis requires a great deal of care in applying the principle of set formation (formally known as the axiom of comprehension), which mathematicians usually take for granted. As Nelson points out, a fallacy in reasoning in IST is that of illegal set formation. For instance, there is no set in IST whose elements are precisely the standard integers (here standard is understood in the sense of the new predicate). To avoid illegal set formation, one must only use predicates of ZFC to define subsets.Another example of the syntactic approach is the Alternative Set TheoryVopěnka, P. Mathematics in the Alternative Set Theory. Teubner, Leipzig, 1979. introduced by Vopěnka, trying to find set-theory axioms more compatible with the non-standard analysis than the axioms of ZF.

Robinson's book

Abraham Robinson's book Non-standard analysis was published in 1966. Some of the topics developed in the book were already present in his 1961 article by the same title (Robinson 1961) Robinson, Abraham: 'Non-Standard Analysis', Kon. Nederl. Akad. Wetensch. Amsterdam Proc. AM (=Indag. Math. 23), 1961, 432-440.. In addition to containing the first full treatment of non-standard analysis, the book contains a detailed historical section where Robinson challenges some of the received opinions on the history of mathematics based on the pre–non-standard analysis perception of infinitesimals as inconsistent entities. Thus, Robinson challenges the idea that Augustin-Louis Cauchy's "sum theorem" in Cours d'Analyse concerning the convergence of a series of continuous functions was incorrect, and proposes an infinitesimal-based interpretation of its hypothesis that results in a correct theorem.

Invariant subspace problem

Abraham Robinson and Allen Bernstein used non-standard analysis to prove that every polynomially compact linear operator on a Hilbert space has an invariant subspace.Allen Bernstein and Abraham Robinson, Solution of an invariant subspace problem of K. T. Smith and P. R. Halmos, Pacific Journal of Mathematics 16:3 (1966) 421-431Given an operator {{mvar|T}} on Hilbert space {{mvar|H}}, consider the orbit of a point {{mvar|v}} in {{mvar|H}} under the iterates of {{mvar|T}}. Applying Gram-Schmidt one obtains an orthonormal basis {{math|(ei)}} for {{mvar|H}}. Let {{math|(Hi)}} be the corresponding nested sequence of "coordinate" subspaces of {{mvar|H}}. The matrix {{math|ai,j}} expressing {{mvar|T}} with respect to {{math|(ei)}} is almost upper triangular, in the sense that the coefficients {{math|a'i+1,i}} are the only nonzero sub-diagonal coefficients. Bernstein and Robinson show that if {{mvar|T}} is polynomially compact, then there is a hyperfinite index {{mvar|w}} such that the matrix coefficient {{math|a'w+1,w}} is infinitesimal. Next, consider the subspace {{math|Hw}} of {{math|*H}}. If {{mvar|y}} in {{math|Hw}} has finite norm, then {{math|T(y)}} is infinitely close to {{math|Hw}}.Now let {{math|Tw}} be the operator P_w circ T acting on {{math|Hw}}, where {{math|Pw}} is the orthogonal projection to {{math|Hw}}. Denote by {{mvar|q}} the polynomial such that {{math|q(T)}} is compact. The subspace {{math|Hw}} is internal of hyperfinite dimension. By transferring upper triangularisation of operators of finite-dimensional complex vector space, there is an internal orthonormal Hilbert space basis {{math|(ek)}} for {{math|Hw}} where {{mvar|k}} runs from {{math|1}} to {{mvar|w}}, such that each of the corresponding {{mvar|k}}-dimensional subspaces {{math|Ek}} is {{mvar|T}}-invariant. Denote by {{math|Πk}} the projection to the subspace {{math|Ek}}. For a nonzero vector {{mvar|x}} of finite norm in {{mvar|H}}, one can assume that {{math|q(T)(x)}} is nonzero, or {{math|{{!}}q(T)(x){{!}} > 1}} to fix ideas. Since {{math|q(T)}} is a compact operator, {{math|(q(Tw))(x)}} is infinitely close to {{math|q(T)(x)}} and therefore one has also {{math|{{!}}q(Tw)(x){{!}} > 1}}. Now let {{mvar|j}} be the greatest index such that |q(T_w) left (Pi_j(x) right)|

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