Pre XXth Century Western Views of the Real Number / Continuum-
Condensed Soup Version:

(Thanks to The
MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive)

I. "Greek" Views:

Greek Numbers and Fractions:

Measurement and Finding Common Units

Irrationality: No common unit. The
square root of 2.

Eudoxus (408-355 BCE) / Euclid
(325-265 BCE)

Theory of Proportion.

Archimedes(287-212 BCE)

Estimation of Pi as a ratio:

Circumference to Diameter of a Circle.

II. Pre-Calculus and Early Calculus Views

Stevin: 1548-1620

Napier: 1550-1617

Briggs: 1561-1630

Descartes: 1596-1650

Newton 1643-1727/ Mercator 1620-1687:

Computation of hyperbolic logarithms using decimals.

Newton & Leibniz 1646-1716 "limits and functions"

III. The Age of Development and Conventions

Euler:1707-1783

Bolzano 1781- 1848 (1817 paper)

Cauchy:1789-1857

Dirichlet: 1805-1859

IV. The Age of Critical Awareness and Foundations

Weierstrass: 1815- 1897

Dedekind: 1831-1916

Frege: 1848-1925

Peano: 1858-1932

V. Cantor 1845-1918: Investigation of discontinuities with Fourier series and Set Theory Beginnings.

[ Another first type of diagonal argument.] 1874

The XXth Century: An Age of Exploration and Discovery.

Hilbert: (1862-1943) (Finitistic Formalization of Arithmetic)

The continuum hypothesis problem was the first of Hilbert's famous 23 problems delivered to the Second International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris in 1900. Hilbert's famous speech The Problems of Mathematics challenged (and still today challenge) mathematicians to solve these fundamental questions

Brouwer: (1881-1966) (Rejection of the law of excluded middle for infinite sets) He rejected in mathematical proofs the Principle of the Excluded Middle, which states that any mathematical statement is either true or false. In 1918 he published a set theory, in 1919 a measure theory and in 1923 a theory of functions all developed without using the Principle of the Excluded Middle.

Godel: (1906-1978)

Godel *Consistency of the axiom of choice and
of the generalized continuum-hypothesis with the axioms of set theory*
(1940)

Gödel showed, in 1940, that the Axiom of Choice
and/ or the Continuum Hypothesis cannot be disproved using the other axioms
of set theory

Cohen: (1934- )

It was not until 1963 that Paul Cohen proved that the
Axiom of Choice is independent of the other axioms of set theory. Cohen
used a technique called "forcing" to prove the independence in set theory
of the axiom of choice and of the generalised continuum hypothesis.

Scott/ Solovay:
*Models
for the real numbers based on Probability-Measure Theory.*

**Reading:**

*Philosophical Introduction to Set Theory*
by Stephen Pollard*The Mathematical Experience* by Philip J. Davis
and Reuben Hersh** What is mathematical logic? by J.N.**
Crossley et al.