Reasons why infinity hasn't been implemented into modern math


by epkid08
Tags: implemented, infinity, math, modern, reasons
epkid08
epkid08 is offline
#1
Jul5-08, 09:59 PM
P: 267
I don't really understand why it hasn't been numerically added into modern math. I mean, we make all kinds of properties for zero, but we can't make properties for infinity? It gets messy from time to time, but we could define everything strictly so that it still works algebraically.

Example: (quoted from http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.divideby0.html)

5/0 = [tex]\infty[/tex]
5 = 0*[tex]\infty[/tex]
Multiplicative property of 0.
5=0
WRONG!

If we defined [tex]\infty[/tex] numerically:
5/0 = 1/0
5 = 0/0
We then, could define 0/0 as truly undefined, or all real numbers, or some other name. I don't think we need to classify something as undefined, or anything for that matter, unless it is 0/0, 0^0, [tex]\infty^\infty[/tex] etc.

As for infinity, it should be implemented carefully into our modern math.

Now it's time for you to post "Reasons why infinity hasn't been implemented into modern math."
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur
Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers
Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior
slider142
slider142 is offline
#2
Jul5-08, 11:39 PM
P: 876
Infinity is present everywhere in modern math. From simple implementations such as the extended real numbers to the more abstract cardinal and exotic ordinal numbers.
CRGreathouse
CRGreathouse is offline
#3
Jul6-08, 12:23 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 3,680
Don't forget the projective reals!

matt grime
matt grime is offline
#4
Jul6-08, 04:56 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 9,398

Reasons why infinity hasn't been implemented into modern math


Or indeed the projective anything, the compactifications of spaces, the Riemann sphere, the theory of poles and singularities going back hundred+ years, Laurent series, Mobius transformations,....
epkid08
epkid08 is offline
#5
Jul6-08, 12:06 PM
P: 267
I'm talking numerically, 1/0. You won't ever see its notation in a function etc...
Hurkyl
Hurkyl is offline
#6
Jul6-08, 12:17 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Hurkyl's Avatar
P: 16,101
Quote Quote by epkid08 View Post
I'm talking numerically, 1/0. You won't ever see its notation in a function etc...
Unless you're working with extended real numbers, cardinal numbers, projective reals, projective anything, compactified spaces, the Riemann sphere, meromorphic functions, Laurent series, Möbius transformations....

You don't see an infinite integer simply because the ring of integers doesn't contain such a thing. The ring of integers doesn't contain 1/2 either.
kts123
kts123 is offline
#7
Jul6-08, 12:48 PM
P: 72
Quote Quote by epkid08 View Post
I'm talking numerically, 1/0. You won't ever see its notation in a function etc...
You won't usually see it in a function over the real numbers, in the same sense you won't see 1/2 in functions over the integers. Infinity is a special class of number, just like rational numbers, irrational numbers, transcendental numbers, imaginary numbers, complex numbers, etc. If you're working with functions that have a domain and range over the real numbers you won't see infinity (OR imaginary numbers or complex numbers.)
CRGreathouse
CRGreathouse is offline
#8
Jul6-08, 06:38 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 3,680
Actually, I'm pretty tired of the word "infinity". A good tenth of the posts on these math forums could be avoided if posters instead named the sort of infinite number they were thinking about. The one-point compactification of the reals? Aleph-2? Epsilon-naught? The IEEE +Infinity?
kts123
kts123 is offline
#9
Jul6-08, 09:58 PM
P: 72
location.reimannsphere(santa) ???
epkid08
epkid08 is offline
#10
Jul6-08, 10:14 PM
P: 267
Quote Quote by kts123 View Post
You won't usually see it in a function over the real numbers, in the same sense you won't see 1/2 in functions over the integers. Infinity is a special class of number, just like rational numbers, irrational numbers, transcendental numbers, imaginary numbers, complex numbers, etc. If you're working with functions that have a domain and range over the real numbers you won't see infinity (OR imaginary numbers or complex numbers.)
My main problem is that low-level algebra defines infinity as undefined, when in reality we have no reason to classify it so. Zero is also a special class of number, which has its limited uses, but we find the time to define that.
matt grime
matt grime is offline
#11
Jul7-08, 04:32 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 9,398
It doesn't 'define infinity as undefined' (which is a contradiction in terms). It merely, and correctly, states that you can't cancel off zeroes in multiplicative expressions.
arildno
arildno is offline
#12
Jul7-08, 05:04 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
P: 12,016
Quote Quote by epkid08 View Post
I don't really understand why it hasn't been numerically added into modern math.
Quote Quote by epkid08 View Post
My main problem is that low-level algebra defines infinity as undefined, when in reality we have no reason to classify it so.
So, according to you, low-level algebra is the heart of modern maths?
Hurkyl
Hurkyl is offline
#13
Jul7-08, 08:20 AM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Hurkyl's Avatar
P: 16,101
Well, epkid08, your post has been answered: mathematics does 'implement infinity'. Allow me to suggest that, before you continue ranting, you spend some time studying mathematics so as to gain an understanding both of how mathematics works and how the notion of infinite is treated and used in mathematics.

Incidentally, your comment on zero is unfounded. It is so incredibly useful that natural languages have evolved to give it special treatment -- the difference between 'zero' and 'not zero' is quite deeply ingrained in grammar. (Apparently so deeply that some people have difficulty comprehending how they could be united into a notion of 'quantity') Grammar can also split the latter case into 'one' and 'more than one', but not in such an essential way. (There is some limited direct linguistic support for larger quantities, but going beyond one usually entails using ordinal or cardinal numbers)
arildno
arildno is offline
#14
Jul7-08, 09:09 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
P: 12,016
Quote Quote by epkid08 View Post
. Zero is also a special class of number, which has its limited uses, but we find the time to define that.
I hardly ever use 2.17, but I am really glad it has already been defined!
D H
D H is online now
#15
Jul7-08, 09:55 AM
Mentor
P: 14,436
Quote Quote by Hurkyl View Post
, your comment on zero is unfounded. It is so incredibly useful that natural languages have evolved to give it special treatment -- the difference between 'zero' and 'not zero' is quite deeply ingrained in grammar. (Apparently so deeply that some people have difficulty comprehending how they could be united into a notion of 'quantity') Grammar can also split the latter case into 'one' and 'more than one', but not in such an essential way. (There is some limited direct linguistic support for larger quantities, but going beyond one usually entails using ordinal or cardinal numbers)
As an aside, one of my jobs is writing software standards. One such is "All magic numbers shall be named and referenced by that name. For example 'circumference=2*3.14159*radius' violates this rule and is wrong to boot. Pi is a magic number. Whether two is a magic number is debatable. A good starting point is that the only non-magical numbers are zero and one. You can use an unnamed small integer if the usage is well-commented." I never mentioned that zero and one, being the root of almost all mathematics, are actually the most magical numbers of all.
D H
D H is online now
#16
Jul7-08, 10:27 AM
Mentor
P: 14,436
Quote Quote by epkid08 View Post
My main problem is that low-level algebra defines infinity as undefined, when in reality we have no reason to classify it so.
No. It does define infinity in terms of limits. It does not define operations with infinity as undefined. It simply does not define such operations, period, and for good reason. They are a superfluous and confusing distraction in the topic at hand, which is getting students to grasp the main concepts of elementary algebra.

Quote Quote by matt grime View Post
It doesn't 'define infinity as undefined' (which is a contradiction in terms).
That's going a bit too far. Computer science can be viewed as an offshoot of applied logic / applied mathematics. Several computer programming languages explicitly define "undefined behaviors". Defining what is undefined is not inherently a contradiction in terms. It is just a warning about the potential for nasal demons.
kts123
kts123 is offline
#17
Jul7-08, 01:27 PM
P: 72
My main problem is that low-level algebra defines infinity as undefined, when in reality we have no reason to classify it so. Zero is also a special class of number, which has its limited uses, but we find the time to define that.

We call it undefined for the same reason we tell grade-schoolers they can't sqaure root negative numbers -- it'd confuse the hell out of them and it's off-topic. When their minds are ripe, and the contexts of our discussion is proper, these concepts are introduced. Crawl before you can walk.

Oh, and, surprise, some infinities are bigger than others and we can divide by zero. Hehehe.
matt grime
matt grime is offline
#18
Jul7-08, 02:40 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
P: 9,398
Quote Quote by D H View Post
Computer science can be viewed as an offshoot of applied logic / applied mathematics. Several computer programming languages explicitly define "undefined behaviors". Defining what is undefined is not inherently a contradiction in terms. It is just a warning about the potential for nasal demons.
Declaring something to be undefined is not the same as *defining* it to be undefined. It might be a useful bastardisation of the language, but it is technically cobblers.... "coming up at ten: what is a pin head and how many angels can we make dance on it."


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Has modern philosophy a modern perspective? General Discussion 19
BitTorrent implemented in Python. Computing & Technology 3
Reasons for Radioactivity General Physics 3
How is LaTeX implemented on this site? Math & Science Software 5
Rudimentary Reasons General Discussion 17