Ages: 14+

We’ll examine the life and work of this revolutionary mathematician once called a “corrupter of youth.” Come and have your teens corrupted with Georg Cantor’s ideas: set theory (a concept that seems fundamental and even obvious today); his most famous proof; and more. Cantor’s life story is sad because of his struggle with mental illness. In discussing his personal story, we’ll question (1) the stereotype that the most successful mathematicians are somehow unbalanced, and (2) the apocryphal “math gene.” We will try to do what the mathematician Cantor is most famous for: attempt to make some discoveries about the nature of infinity/infinities using set theory. This course will also delve into math history and the behavioral sciences. And if there’s time, I’d like to at least expose students to the idea of using infinitesimal quantities to approximate the seemingly unmeasurable. This is one of the foundational ideas of calculus. However, neither “precalculus” nor “trigonometry” nor even “algebra 2” is a prerequisite for this course. Students should have a basic knowledge of algebra and geometry. Course material will be primarily derived from Dauben’s Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite.

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