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Prob/Stats Axiomatic Set Theory

  1. Apr 27, 2015 #1
    So I just finished "Book of Proof" and I'm looking for a more rigourous book on axiomatic set theory, including Gödel's theorems.Any recommendations?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2015 #2
    First of all, Gödel's theorems are not a part of set theory, they are rather a part of mathematical logic.

    If you just finished book of proof, then you are likely not ready to tackle Gödel's theorems or axiomatic set theory. I'm sure you could formally understand the notions though. But you wouldn't understand the underlying motivations and intuition. For example, why was axiomatic set theory necessary, and what exactly is Gödel's theorems about? This requires some familiarity with the rest of mathematics. Furthermore, if you finished the book of proof, then you are likely not very skilled in proofs yet.

    So what I propose is to first learn a bit on abstract algebra and real analysis. This will help you greatly to obtain more intuition for set theory and Gödel. Furthermore, I encourage you to read up on the history and philosophy of mathematics. Gödel is merely the last chapter in a story that has been going on since the ancient Greeks! So knowing the full story is important.

    Some good books to read:
    Pinter's "A book of abstract algebra" https://www.amazon.com/Book-Abstract-Algebra-Edition-Mathematics/dp/0486474178
    This is necessary because abstract structures such as groups and rings will be generalized in mathematical logic. So it is good to be acquainted with such structures first, before seeing the generalization.

    Bloch's "The real numbers and real analysis" https://www.amazon.com/Real-Numbers-Analysis/dp/0387721762
    This book is good because it develops mathematics from the ground up. It only accepts sets as given, and then it builds the natural, integers, rational numbers and real numbers. It goes on to develop most of calculus rigorously. This book is necessary because you need to understand what questions set theory wanted to answer. Knowing the Peano axioms and the construction of the real numbers is absolutely crucial for that. Not an easy book though!

    Stillwell's "The real numbers : an introduction to set theory and analysis" https://www.amazon.com/Real-Numbers-Introduction-Undergraduate-Mathematics/dp/3319015761/
    This book starts with some very foundational questions important to set theory, and then answers them. Stillwell is a great writer too!

    Kline's "Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, Vol 1 and 2" https://www.amazon.com/Mathematical-Thought-Ancient-Modern-Times/dp/0195061357
    Very comprehensive history of mathematics. Very worth reading. You don't need to read all of them of course, but it's important to get a historical grasp on what questions were important in set theory.

    Gensler: "Gödel's theorem simplified" https://www.amazon.com/Godels-Theorem-Simplified-Harry-Gensler/dp/081913869X
    If you're interested in Gödel's theorem (or one of them), then there is no better book to start than this. It is quite easy, but very worth reading.

    Do not hesitate to contact me for more questions or for guidance!
  4. Apr 27, 2015 #3
    Thanks a lot. Looks like I have a lot to catch up on. :p
  5. Apr 27, 2015 #4


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    If you want set theory, I recall that Jech/Hrbacek is quite decent, if concise. Just don't accidentally get Jech's graduate book on set theory, that would be way too advanced.

    If you want a wordier book, Suppes is nice because he proves every theorem in the book, so it's nice to try to prove them yourself to gain confidence.
  6. Apr 27, 2015 #5
    Hrbacek and Jech is awesome. It's still my favorite book on axiomatic set theory.

    A word of warning: I have seen a few people who read Suppes and who somehow were very misinformed about things. I don't know why that is, because the book really is decent. I just think it is not safe to self-study things like this.
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