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# Set Theory and the Continuum Hypothesis (Dover Books on Mathematics)

### Customer Reviews:

#### All-time classic -- a "desert island book"

By **Joseph L. Shipman** - July 4, 2003
#### Definitive and Brilliant

By **C. P. Cohen** - April 27, 2007
#### A readable and approachable book on set theory and cardinal numbers

By **Vincent Poirier** - August 13, 2012

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This exploration of a notorious mathematical problem is the work of the man who discovered the solution. The independence of the continuum hypothesis is the focus of this study by Paul J. Cohen. It presents not only an accessible technical explanation of the author's landmark proof but also a fine introduction to mathematical logic. An emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University, Dr. Cohen won two of the most prestigious awards in mathematics: in 1964, he was awarded the American Mathematical Society's Bôcher Prize for analysis; and in 1966, he received the Fields Medal for Logic.

In this volume, the distinguished mathematician offers an exposition of set theory and the continuum hypothesis that employs intuitive explanations as well as detailed proofs. The self-contained treatment includes background material in logic and axiomatic set theory as well as an account of Kurt Gödel's proof of the consistency of the continuum hypothesis. An invaluable reference book for mathematicians and mathematical theorists, this text is suitable for graduate and postgraduate students and is rich with hints and ideas that will lead readers to further work in mathematical logic.

In this volume, the distinguished mathematician offers an exposition of set theory and the continuum hypothesis that employs intuitive explanations as well as detailed proofs. The self-contained treatment includes background material in logic and axiomatic set theory as well as an account of Kurt Gödel's proof of the consistency of the continuum hypothesis. An invaluable reference book for mathematicians and mathematical theorists, this text is suitable for graduate and postgraduate students and is rich with hints and ideas that will lead readers to further work in mathematical logic.

Paul Cohen's "Set Theory and the Continuum Hypothesis" is not only the best technical treatment of his solution to the most notorious unsolved problem in mathematics, it is the best introduction to mathematical logic (though Manin's "A Course in Mathematical Logic" is also remarkably excellent and is the first book to read after this one). Although it is only 154 pages, it is remarkably wide-ranging, and has held up very well in the 37 years since it was first published. Cohen is a very good mathematical writer and his arrangement of the material is irreproachable. All the arguments are well-motivated, the number of details left to the reader is not too large, and everything is set in a clear philosophical context. The book is completely self-contained and is rich with hints and ideas that will lead the reader to further work in mathematical logic.It is one of my two favorite math books (the other being Conway's "On Numbers and Games"). My copy... read more

This is still the definitive work on set theory and the continuum hypothesis. Although extremely terse, it is wonderfully clear and unburdened by the technical and pedantic details that doom many books in the subject. If you cannot track this down right now be patient, the American Mathematical Society is going to be reprinting it.

Professor Cohen passed away in March of 2007, but thankfully this book remains as a testament to his genius. Originally trained as an analyst, he began working on the continuum hypothesis knowing almost nothing about logic or set theory. Within two years he mastered the subject and solved the greatest outstanding problem in the field (and arguably in all of mathematics). Read this book if you want to understand one of the deepest ideas in all of human thought.

As a work of science, "Set Theory and the Continuum Hypothesis" stands on a par with Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". First, like Darwin's book, Cohen's work is a profound contribution to its field; second it is also accessible to any educated and interested reader, although with some effort.

This edition is a reproduction of the first edition. You might be shocked by the type-this is a plain, typewritten document with no illustrations (I find it charming)-but Paul Cohen's crystal clear prose makes the book eminently readable.

=WHAT YOU NEED=

This is a graduate level book but you don't need to be a graduate student in mathematics to understand it. You do need a laymen's interest in mathematics; for instance you should enjoy reading Euclid, Ian Stewart, Douglas Hoftstadter, Martin Gardner. If you've enjoyed Douglas Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, and Bach" then there is no reason you can't understand this book.

=WHAT IT DELIVERS=... read more

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