Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Sets with negative number of elements?

  1. Jan 18, 2007 #1
    Hi. :)
    Look what I've found here http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/nth_quantization.html
    Can anyone say is this nonsense or what, negative cardinality?
    I am very curious. :eek:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Such generalizations are easy enough to construct. I imagine you have no trouble with the notion of a multiset: a set that's allowed to contain multiple copies of something. e.g. <1, 1, 2> would be different from <1, 2>.

    It's easy to see that a multiset can be described as a function that tells you how many copies of an object there are. e.g. if S = <1, 1, 2>, then S(1) = 2, S(2) = 1, and S(x) = 0 for anything else.

    From there, it's a small step to allow functions to have negative values. Then *voila*, you have a generalization of the notion of a set that permits a set to have a negative number of elements.

    I don't know exactly what sort of generalization that article is planning on discussing, though. It might be this one, or it might be something entirely different.
  4. Jan 21, 2007 #3
  5. Jul 9, 2008 #4
    isn't that a good methodological abbreviation for anything that is "hyper-nonexistent"?

    of similar interest would be considering circles with a negative radius (my favourite object) etc.
    any ideas about this??

  6. Jul 24, 2008 #5
    This would imply that the circle's negative radius causes the circle to "fold in on itself" so-to-speak into a negative dimension below the circle's two. This raises the question of negative dimensions... Theories?
  7. Jul 25, 2008 #6


    User Avatar

    Quite simple. A circle of radius r is the solutions to x2+y2=r2. So negative radius circle is the same as positive radius.

    imaginary radius is probably more interesting. You'd get the hyperbolic plane, depending on how you define it.
  8. Aug 26, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?