Barber's paradox

  • Thread starter Edgardo
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  • #1
Edgardo
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There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.

That is a nice story. But it raises the question: Did the barber shave himself?
 

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  • #2
croxbearer
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Yes. Because i suppose he is the only barber in town. And to satisfy the third sentence, he must also shave. The barber is not included in "the men"(third person) as referred in the last sentence.
 
  • #3
DaveC426913
Gold Member
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Part II:
A little known fact: There were actually TWO barbers in Seville (and the next nearest barber is a hundred mile train ride away in Quadalquivir).

The barber mentioned by Edguardo runs a very tight ship; his shop is spotlessly clean, as is his attire. He has perfectly groomed nails, teeth and hair - the very model of a clean, well-groomed gentleman. The other barber, on the other side of the tracks has a dirty shop, with hair on the floor. He's dressed in old clothes, with grimy nails, yellow teeth, B.O. and a terrible haircut - he's a slob.

You've just blown into town for a convention and absolutely must get a haircut. Who do you go to?
 
  • #4
croxbearer
18
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>>>
I will go to the second barber - the slob one. Since, there are only TWO barbers in town, and it was mentioned that he has a terrible haircut. That means, the well-groomed barber did his haircut. And also maybe, the reason why his shop was dirty is because he has lot of customers, which means he is really a good a barber, and probably he did also the haircut of the first barber. :biggrin:
 
  • #5
Jeff Ford
155
2
Edgardo said:
There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.

That is a nice story. But it raises the question: Did the barber shave himself?

Since the barber only shaves the men who did not shave themselves, he could not shave himself. Therefore the barber had a beard.
 
  • #6
Edgardo
705
15
First of all,

a) the barber lives in Seville too. Therefore he should be included in the "men" mentioned in the orginal text.

Just a clue: examine the two cases with
(i) he shaves himself. What follows?
(ii) he does not shave himself. What follows?
The conclusion should be strange.

Remember, the barber is also among the "men".

I think Jeff understood the paradoxon. But to add something, the men definitely get shaved. So what's the problem with my story?



Secondly

b) Huh?? :bugeye: What's that thing about Part II?! LoL, you're changing my original question, Dave. But it's good anyway, hehe.
 
  • #7
quark
231
1
Never mind it. The barber is low on hormones.
 
  • #8
Lisa!
Gold Member
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Edgardo said:
First of all,

a) the barber lives in Seville too. Therefore he should be included in the "men" mentioned in the orginal text.

Just a clue: examine the two cases with
(i) he shaves himself. What follows?
He just shaved men who did not shave themselves!



(ii) he does not shave himself. What follows?
The conclusion should be strange.
All of the men in this town were shaved anyway whether by themselves or by the barber!

But this story doesn't make sense to me:
1.Why someone can't/don't shave himself if he's able to shave others?(as you say there are some people who even aren't barber but can shave themselves!)

(2.If there are some people who can shave themselves, why they can't shave the barber? :wink:

3.Supppose the barber can't shave himself because of some reasons, so perhaps we can find someone else who's the same! I mean he can't shave himself but he can shave the barber! :rolleyes:
4. It's important where he exactly lives! Perhaps he went to another city for shaving! :rofl: )



Lol! I'm not a man, so I have no information about men's shaving! :blushing:
 
  • #9
LarrrSDonald
71
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This is kind of a more commonly (and thus badly) worded version of Russell's Antinomy, i.e.

[tex]R= \{x:x \notin x \}[/tex]
[tex]R \in R?[/tex]

By some (common) definitions it's a paradox (similar to the liar paradox mentioned in another thread). Both [tex] R \in R[/tex] and [tex] R \notin R[/tex] violates the definitions. It was a rather embarresing problem at the time (or so I understand, I was too young to care). I have no idea what resolutions were offered or if it was just determined mostly irrelevant for general appliactions - I imagine it's mostly a philosophical problem rather then a common issue with definitions.
 
  • #10
Tide
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The logical inconsistency that follows constitutes a proof that such a barber cannot exist. Brand the person who provided the question a liar (a Cretan??) and move on. :)
 
  • #11
Curious3141
Homework Helper
2,858
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LarrrSDonald said:
This is kind of a more commonly (and thus badly) worded version of Russell's Antinomy, i.e.

[tex]R= \{x:x \notin x \}[/tex]
[tex]R \in R?[/tex]

By some (common) definitions it's a paradox (similar to the liar paradox mentioned in another thread). Both [tex] R \in R[/tex] and [tex] R \notin R[/tex] violates the definitions. It was a rather embarresing problem at the time (or so I understand, I was too young to care). I have no idea what resolutions were offered or if it was just determined mostly irrelevant for general appliactions - I imagine it's mostly a philosophical problem rather then a common issue with definitions.

One can read more about Russell's Paradox here.

Russell himself attempted to resolve the paradox with his Theory of Types. Modern set theory - Zermelo Fraenkel (ZF) - also resolves this paradox.
 
  • #12
mezarashi
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Edgardo said:
There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.

That is a nice story. But it raises the question: Did the barber shave himself?

The answer is that no such barber exists. The answer is clearly indeterminate through ad absurdum. You logically reduce it to adsurdity, in which the statement will have no meaning.

1. Assume the barber does not shave.
2. Then by the said rules, he will shave himself.
3. If he shaves himself, that means that he will not shave himself, for he does not shave people who shave themselves.
4. If he does not shave himself, then by said rules he will shave himself. (this loops back to #2)

There's nothing too fancy about this. Here, I have a "paradox" of my own. Have fun.

The sentence below is true.
The sentence above is false.
 
  • #13
amcavoy
665
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mezarashi said:
The answer is that no such barber exists. The answer is clearly indeterminate through ad absurdum. You logically reduce it to adsurdity, in which the statement will have no meaning.

1. Assume the barber does not shave.
2. Then by the said rules, he will shave himself.
3. If he shaves himself, that means that he will not shave himself, for he does not shave people who shave themselves.
4. If he does not shave himself, then by said rules he will shave himself. (this loops back to #2)

There's nothing too fancy about this. Here, I have a "paradox" of my own. Have fun.

The sentence below is true.
The sentence above is false.
:rofl: This one goes around and around. :rofl:

Alex
 
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  • #14
nnnnnnnn
66
0
mezarashi said:
The answer is that no such barber exists. The answer is clearly indeterminate through ad absurdum. You logically reduce it to adsurdity, in which the statement will have no meaning.
1. Assume the barber does not shave.
2. Then by the said rules, he will shave himself.
3. If he shaves himself, that means that he will not shave himself, for he does not shave people who shave themselves.
4. If he does not shave himself, then by said rules he will shave himself. (this loops back to #2)
There's nothing too fancy about this. Here, I have a "paradox" of my own. Have fun.
The sentence below is true.
The sentence above is false.

Well if he doesn't exist then no, he doesn't shave himself.
 
  • #15
Lisa!
Gold Member
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This thread is still alive? Where is Edgardo?
 
  • #16
Edgardo
705
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Hello, I am still here :smile:

As mentioned by some posters here, the paradox was discovered by the famous mathematician Bertrand Russel.

Here are some websites that explain what the problem is about (WARNING, SPOILER!):
http://plus.maths.org/issue20/xfile/
http://www.jimloy.com/logic/russell.htm [Broken]

I personally found the paradox quite interesting and thought about it about an hour until I fully understood it.

Have fun!
 
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  • #17
moving finger
1,689
1
the barber had had electrolysis to remove all of his facial hair, and did not need to be shaved.

MF
 
  • #18
Edgardo
705
15
moving finger said:
the barber had had electrolysis to remove all of his facial hair, and did not need to be shaved.
MF

Huh? Electrolysis?! What happened to him?
 
  • #20
Edgardo
705
15
oh, thanks for the information. But no, he didn't have electrolysis
because he once read that women like men with a three-day beard.
 
  • #21
Lisa!
Gold Member
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Edgardo said:
oh, thanks for the information. But no, he didn't have electrolysis
because he once read that women like men with a three-day beard.
:rofl: I agree with you that was an interesting paradox!
 
  • #22
trudginup
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The only conclusion is; The story is a lie.
 
  • #23
Ubern0va
61
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Tide said:
The logical inconsistency that follows constitutes a proof that such a barber cannot exist. Brand the person who provided the question a liar (a Cretan??) and move on. :)
Sorry to bring up another old one but I stumbled upon it and had this exact realization (the same as quoted above). This barber cannot exist, so your premises are contradictory (i.e. it's a lie). You say that there are two sets of men A and B and every man is either in A (gets shaved by the barber) or B(shaves themselves) but not in both because if someone is in B they are not in A and vice versa. So any element/man is either in A or in B but not both. But the existence the barber in the "paradox" implies the existence of an element/man that is both in A and in B. So the barber is not a man who lives in the town. Therefore, the barber is either a female/non-male, does not live in Seville, or doesn't exist all together. Where's the paradox?
 
  • #24
BTruesdell07
17
0
About the Barber

Since only the men in Seville are shaved than the barber must be a woman
 
  • #25
kant
388
0
Edgardo said:
There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.

That is a nice story. But it raises the question: Did the barber shave himself?

if the barber shave himself, he does not shave himself.

if the barber do not shave himself, he has to shave himself.
 
  • #26
midnite13
7
0
DaveC426913 said:
Part II:
The barber mentioned by Edguardo runs a very tight ship; his shop is spotlessly clean, as is his attire. He has perfectly groomed nails, teeth and hair - the very model of a clean, well-groomed gentleman. The other barber, on the other side of the tracks has a dirty shop, with hair on the floor. He's dressed in old clothes, with grimy nails, yellow teeth, B.O. and a terrible haircut - he's a slob.

You've just blown into town for a convention and absolutely must get a haircut. Who do you go to?

Sorry if I'm digging up an old thread.
I'd go to the other barber, because it's evident that he has more customers?
 
  • #27
Parlyne
551
3
BTruesdell07 said:
Since only the men in Seville are shaved than the barber must be a woman

But, the barber is referred to as "he." Hence, the barber must, in fact, be a transgendered woman.
 
  • #28
Archosaur
331
1
Did the barber shave himself?

Let's see. Everyone in the town is shaved somehow, either by the barber or by themselves.
Well, the barber is the barber, and the barber is himself.
So we know that the barber either shaved himself, or he shaved himself.
But, he doesn't shave men who shave themselves.

In short, two statements must be true at the same time:
1. "He shaves himself"
2. "He doesn't shave people who shave themselves"

This isn't a paradox. It's just a lie.
This is just like saying "An apple is red and it is green. What color is the apple?"
That's not a paradox! It's just lying.
 
  • #29
The riddler
88
0
What if the barber is a woman?
 
  • #30
The riddler
88
0
Oh, someone already suggested that.
 
  • #31
gordian5
1
0
No one shaves the barber since the barber has a beard.
 
  • #32
AUMathTutor
498
0
Chuck Norris shaved the barber.
 
  • #33
getitright
43
0
Part II:
A little known fact: There were actually TWO barbers in Seville (and the next nearest barber is a hundred mile train ride away in Quadalquivir).

The barber mentioned by Edguardo runs a very tight ship; his shop is spotlessly clean, as is his attire. He has perfectly groomed nails, teeth and hair - the very model of a clean, well-groomed gentleman. The other barber, on the other side of the tracks has a dirty shop, with hair on the floor. He's dressed in old clothes, with grimy nails, yellow teeth, B.O. and a terrible haircut - he's a slob.

You've just blown into town for a convention and absolutely must get a haircut. Who do you go to?

Who charges less?? The second guy sounds like my dad. Tell him I said 'hey'
 
  • #34
Office_Shredder
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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The Barber of Seville was actually a code name for a CIA operative investigating a former Soviet scientist now allegedly in the employ of Al Qaeda. From what little can be gleaned from the below records, between the years of 2000 and 2004 the "Barber" investigateed at least three unidentifed suspects in the Seville area. Former CIA employee Valerie Plame confirms that the CIA would regularly use the euphamism "close shave" to refer to missed assassination attempts, and a "full shave" to indicate one was successful. Operatives in the field were equipped with a singe cyanide suicide pill, and hence could "shave" themselves to avoid capture. As we all know, the Barber did not shave himself, and hence must still be alive and perhaps even working for the CIA today

A request through the Open Records Act to the CIA retrieved this censored debriefing file on the mission, complete with review notes and fingerprint smudges

http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/3598/thebarberofseville.jpg [Broken]
 
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  • #35
Alsdfj12
11
0
Who said the barber even HAD hair to shave :rofl:
 

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