# Re: MATH: Surreal numbers?

Michael Lorrey (*retroman@together.net*)

*Wed, 12 Nov 1997 09:34:36 -0500*

Geoff Smith wrote:

*> *

*> On Mon, 10 Nov 1997, byteboy wrote:*

*> *

*> > This might have already been covered in the infinities thread, it seems*

*> > I came into this mailing list a bit late. If this tidbit has already*

*> > been covered, please accept my apologies and ignore this message.*

*> >*

*> > Awhile back I read an article in some magazine that I can't remember -*

*> > maybe it was a MENSA thing (eep, the M-word!), maybe Popular Science, I*

*> > don't know - but it was on this new concept called Surreal Numbers.*

*> *

*> Discover Magazine. "Surreal Numbers." Forget which issue.*

*> *

*> > Now, at the time, I was just learning about _imaginary_ numbers, so*

*> > the thought that numbers could be surreal was something I liked to think*

*> > about from time to time, but never got into - no one could teach me but*

*> > myself. Anyway, it seems that some mathematics theorist was coming up*

*> > with all these crazy notions about numbers such as infinity + 1, and was*

*> > calling them surreal numbers. Has anyone else heard of such a thing or*

*> > is my memory playing tricks on me?*

*> *

*> Yep. Surreal numbers are denoted by up and down arrows. An up arrow with*

*> a dot on top means go up omega times (omega being the set of all integers)*

*> Surreal numbers are used to distinguish from different types of*

*> infinities. For example, the number of integers is obviously different*

*> than the number of real numbers, yet we call them both infinity.*

*> *

Yeah, the idea that the number of numbers between 0 and 1 was equal to

the total number of numbers was a bit incomprehenible to me back in

school. Glad to see that there is at least SOME differentiation.

--
TANSTAAFL!!!
Michael Lorrey
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