Hyperreal number
In mathematical logic, the hyperreal numbers or nonstandard reals (usually denoted as *R) is an ordered field which is a proper extension of the ordered field of real numbers R. An important property of *R is that it has infinitely large as well as infinitesimal numbers to R, where an infinitely large number is one that is larger than all numbers representable in the form
- 1+1+ ... + 1.
The study of these numbers, their functions and properties is called nonstandard analysis; some find it more intuitive than standard real analysis. When Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz introduced differentials, they used infinitesimals and these were still regarded as useful by Leonhard Euler and Augustin Louis Cauchy. Nonetheless these concepts were from the beginning seen as suspect, notably by Bishop Berkeley, and when in the 1800s calculus was put on a firm footing through the development of the epsilon-delta definition of a limit by Cauchy, Karl Weierstrass and others, they were largely abandoned.
However, in the 1960s Abraham Robinson showed how infinitely large and infinitesimal numbers can be rigorously defined and used to develop the field of nonstandard analysis. Because his theory in its full-fledged form makes unrestricted use of classical logic and set theory and, in particular, of the axiom of choice, it is suspected to be nonconstructive from the outset. The construction given below is a simplified version of Robinson's more general construction and is generally attributed to E. Zakon.
Table of contents |
2 Construction 3 Infinitesimal and infinite numbers 4 References 5 External links |
Properties
The hyperreals *R form an ordered field containing the reals R as a subfield. Unlike the reals, the hyperreals do not form a metric space, but by virtue of their order they carry an order topology.
The hyperreals are defined in such a way that every true first-order logic statement that uses basic arithmetic (the natural numbers, plus, times, comparison) and quantifies only over the real numbers is also true if we presume that it quantifies over hyperreal numbers. For example, we can state that for every real number there is another number greater than it:
The transfer principle however doesn't mean that R and *R have identical behavior. For instance, in *R there exists an element w such that
Construction
We are going to construct the hyperreals via sequences of reals. In fact we can add and multiply sequences: (a_{0}, a_{1}, a_{2}, ...) + (b_{0}, b_{1}, b_{2}, ...) = (a_{0} + b_{0}, a_{1} + b_{1}, a_{2} + b_{2}, ...) and analogously for multiplication. This turns the set of such sequences into a commutative ring A. Moreover, we can identify the real number r with the sequence (r, r, r, ...) and this identification preserves the corresponding algebraic operations of the reals.
We also need to be able to compare sequences, and there we run into trouble: some entries of the first sequence may be bigger than the corresponding entries of the second sequence, and some others may be smaller. We have to specify "which positions matter". Since there are infinitely many indices, we don't want finite sets of indices to matter. A consistent choice of "index sets that matter" is given by any free ultrafilter U on the natural numbers which does not contain any finite sets. Such an U exists by the axiom of choice. (In fact, there are many such U, but it turns out that it doesn't matter which one we take.) We think of U as singling out those sets of indices that "matter": We write (a_{0}, a_{1}, a_{2}, ...) ≤ (b_{0}, b_{1}, b_{2}, ...) if and only if the set of natural numbers { n : a_{n} ≤ b_{n} } is in U. This is a total preorder and it turns into a total order if we agree not to distinguish between two sequences a and b if a≤b and b≤a. With this identification, the ordered field *R of hyperreals is constructed.
For more information about this method of construction, check out ultraproducts.
Infinitesimal and infinite numbers
- x is real if and only if
- st is monotone: In fact x < y if and only if
It can be shown the map st is continuous with respect to the order topology on the finite hyperreals.
Compare with:
References
- Robert Goldblatt, Lectures on the hyperreals : an introduction to nonstandard analysis, Springer, 1998.
External links
- Jordi Gutierrez Hermoso: Nonstandard Analysis and the Hyperreals, http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/analysis_hyperreals.html. A gentle introduction.
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