module specification

MA6051 - Mathematics of Infinity (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Mathematics of Infinity
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Essay (Comprehension test, 1200 word max.)
Coursework 60%   Essay (1800 words max.)
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module is designed to be accessible to both mathematics and non-mathematics students alike. The prerequisite for this module is basic arithmetic and desire to think about abstract ideas.
This module is centred around Cantor’s theory of infinite sets. The historical background of the idea of infinity will be given from the ancient Greek philosophers up to Immanuel Kant. The main ideas behind the Cantor’s theory of transfinite numbers will be developed and then we will look at some of the consequences of Cantor’s work present in Mathematics, Computer Science and Philosophy.


The idea of infinity through history: Greeks to Kant. Cantor and the origin of his Set Theory.  LO1

Transfinite numbers: Ordinals (definition and arithmetic). Transfinite numbers: Cardinals (definition and arithmetic). LO2

Cantor's Theorem and Continuum Hypothesis. Self-reference and Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem(s). Limitations of Thought. LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module will be taught in 3-hour blocks divided into 1-hour lecture and 2-hour tutorial. Tutorials will be used for open discussion of the main topics covered in lectures. Students will be asked to read relevant material beforehand and offer their understanding during the tutorials. In addition to standard VLE presence there will be links available for further readings and discussion groups.

Learning outcomes

LO1: Understand the origins of Cantor's set theory.
LO2: Understand definitions and arithmetic of transfinite numbers.
LO3: Understand the implications of the limitations of any formal system.


Core Text:
A.W. Moore (2001) The Infinite 2ND Edition Routledge
Recommended Reading:
Dauben, J. W.( 1979), Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02447-2. Rucker, R.( 1995), Infinity and the Mind, Princeton University Press,  ISBN 0-69-100172-3
Priest, G. (2006), Beyond the Limits of Thought, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-924421-9.
Fatconi, T.G.( 2006), The Mathematics of Infinity, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 10 0-471-79432-5.