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The Future of Infinity: Solving Math’s Most Notorious Problem

Saturday, June 1, 2013
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

In 1873, Georg Cantor proved that there are different sizes of infinity. Cantor tried to answer the question by proposing the Continuum Hypothesis. A solution of sorts was found in 1963, but the answer—proof that there was no proof—raised questions about the foundations of mathematics. Most deemed that counting the infinite was beyond mathematical precision. Recently, progress has been made, and the Continuum Hypothesis might have a definite answer—true or false.

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Keith DevlinMathematician

Known as the “Math Guy” on National Public Radio and author of 30 books and over 80 published research articles, Keith Devlin is a recognized mathematician. In 2003, he was lauded by the California State Assembly for his “innovative work and longtime service in the field of mathematics and its relation to logic and linguistics.”

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Joel David HamkinsMathematician, Philosopher

Joel David Hamkins conducts research in mathematical and philosophical logic, particularly set theory, with a focus on the mathematics and philosophy of the infinite.

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Steven StrogatzMathematician

Steven Strogatz is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University. He studied at Princeton, Cambridge, and Harvard and taught at MIT before moving to Cornell. He is a renowned teacher and one of the world’s most highly cited mathematicians.

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W. Hugh WoodinMathematician

William Hugh Woodin is a set theorist at University of California, Berkeley. He has made many notable contributions to the theory of inner models and determinacy. His recent work on Ω-logic suggests an argument that the continuum hypothesis is false.

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