# Analysis: Chapter 1: part 10: algebraic operations with real numbers

Algebraic operations with real numbers.

We now proceed to meaning of the elementary algebraic operations such as addition, as applied to real numbers in general.

(i),  Addition. In order to define the sum of two numbers $\alpha$ and $\beta$, we consider the following two classes: (i) the class (c) formed by all sums $c=a+b$, (ii) the class (C) formed by all sums $C=A+B$. Clearly, $c < C$ in all cases.

Again, there cannot be more than one rational number which does not belong either to (c) or to (C). For suppose there were two, say r and s, and let s be the greater. Then, both r and s must be greater than every c and less than every C; and so $C-c$ cannot be less than $s-r$. But,

$C-c=(A-a)+(B-b)$;

and we can choose a, b, A, B so that both $A-a$ and $B-b$ are as small as we like; and this plainly contradicts our hypothesis.

If every rational number belongs to (c) or to (C), the classes (c), (C) form a section of the rational numbers, that is to say, a number $\gamma$. If there is one which does not, we add it to (C). We have now a section or real number $\gamma$, which must clearly be rational, since it corresponds to the least member of (C). In any case we call $\gamma$ the sum of $\alpha$ and $\beta$and write

$\gamma=\alpha + \beta$.

If both $\alpha$ and $\beta$ are rational, they are the least members of the upper classes (A) and (B). In this case it is clear that $\alpha + \beta$ is the least member of (C), so that our definition agrees with our previous ideas of addition.

(ii) Subtraction.

We define $\alpha - \beta$ by the equation $\alpha-\beta=\alpha +(-\beta)$.

The idea of subtraction accordingly presents no fresh difficulties.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

# Analysis — Chapter 1 — Real Variables — part 8

8. Real numbers. We have confined ourselves so far to certain sections of the positive rational numbers, which we have agreed provisionally to call “positive real numbers.” Before we frame our final definitions, we must alter our point of view a little. We shall consider sections, or divisions into two classes, not merely of the positive rational numbers, but of all rational numbers, including zero. We may then repeat all that we have said about sections of the positive rational numbers in part 6 and 7 merely omitting the word positive occasionally.

Definitions. A section of the rational numbers, in which both classes exist and the lower class has no greatest member, is called a real number, or simply a number.

A number which does not correspond to a rational number is called an irrational number.

If the real number does correspond to a rational number, we shall use the term “rational” as applying to the real number line.

The term “rational number” will, as a result of our definitions, be ambiguous, it may mean the rational number of part 1, or the, corresponding real number. If we say that $1/2 > 1/3$, we may  be asserting either of the two different propositions, one a proposition of elementary arithmetic, the other a proposition concerning sections of the rational numbers. Ambiguities of this kind are common in mathematics, and are perfectly harmless, since the relations between different propositions are exactly the same whichever interpretation is attached to the propositions themselves. From $1/2>1/3$ and $1/3>1/4$ we can infer $1/2>1/4$; the inference is in no way affected by any doubt as to whether $1/2$, $1/3$ and $1/4$ are arithmetic fractions or real numbers. Sometimes, of course, the context in which (example) ‘$1/2$‘ occurs is sufficient to fix its interpretation. When we say (next blog part 9) that $1/2 < \sqrt{1/3}$we must mean by ‘$1/2$‘ the real number $1/2$.

The reader should observe, moreover, that no particular logical importance is to be attached to the precise form of definition of a ‘real number’ that we have adopted. We defined ‘a real number’ as being a section, that is, a pair of classes. We might equally well have defined it to being the lower, or the upper class; indeed it would be easy to define an infinity of classes of entities of each of which would possess the properties of the class of real numbers. What is essential in mathematics is that its symbols should be capable of some interpretation; generally they are capable of many, and then so far as mathematics is concerned, it does not matter which we adopt. Mr. Bertrand Russell has said that “mathematics is the science in which we do not know what we are talking about, and do not care what we say about it is true”, a remark which is expressed in the form of paradox but which in reality embodies a number of important truths. It would take too long to analyze the meaning of Mr Russell’s epigram in detail, but one at any rate of the implications is this, that the symbols of mathematics are capable of varying interpretations, and that we are in general at liberty to adopt whatever we prefer.

There are now three cases to distinguish. It may happen that all negative rational numbers belong to the lower class and zero and all positive rational numbers to the upper. We describe this section as the real number zero. Or, again it may happen that the lower class includes some positive numbers. Such a section we as a positive real number. Finally, it may happen that some negative numbers belong to the upper class. Such a section we describe as a negative real number.

Note: The difference between our presentation of a positive real number here and that or part 7 of the blogs amounts to the addition to the lower class of zero and all the negative rational numbers. An example of a negative real number is given by taking the property P of part 6 of the blogs to be $x+1<0$ and Q to be $x+1 \geq 0$/ This section plainly corresponds to the negative rational number $-1$. If we took P to be $x^{3}<-2$ and Q to be $x^{3}>-2$, we should obtain a negative real number which is not rational.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

# Analysis — Chapter 1 Real Variables — part 7 — continued

Part 7. Irrational numbers (continued).

In the first two cases, we say that the section corresponds to a positive rational number a, which is l in the one case and r in the other. Conversely, it is clear that to any such number a corresponds a section which we shall denote by

$\alpha^{*}$. For we might take P and Q to be the properties expressed by

$x \leq a, x > a$

respectively, or by $x and $x \leq a$. In the first case, a would be the greatest number of L, and in the second case the least member of R. These are in fact just two sections corresponding to any positive rational number. In order to avoid ambiguity we select one of them; let us select that in which the number itself belongs to the upper class. In other words, let us agree that we will consider only sections in which the lower class L has no greatest number.

There being this correspondence between the positive rational numbers and the sections defined by means of them, it would be perfectly legitimate, for mathematical purposes, to replace the numbers by the sections, and to regard the symbols which occur in our formulae as standing for the sections instead of for the numbers. Thus, for example,

$\alpha > \alpha^{'}$ would mean the same as $a > a^{'}$. If $\alpha$ and $\alpha^{'}$ are

the sections which correspond to a and $a^{'}$.

But, when we have in this way substituted sections of rational numbers for the rational numbers themselves, we are almost forced to a generalization of our number system. For there are sections (such as that of blog on Chapter 1 — part 4) which do not correspond to any rational number. The aggregate of sections is a larger aggregate than that of the positive rational numbers; it includes sections corresponding to all these numbers, and more besides. It is this fact which we make the basis of our generalization of the idea of a number. We accordingly frame the following definitions, which will however be modified in the next blog, and must therefore be regarded as temporary and provisional.

A section of the positive rational numbers, in which both classes exist and the lower class has no greatest member, is called a positive real number.

A positive real number which does not correspond to a positive rational number is called a positive irrational

number.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

# Analysis — Chapter I — Real Variables — Part 5 — Irrational numbers continued

We have thus divided the positive rational numbers into two classes, L and R, such that (i) every member of R is greater than every member of L, and (ii) we can find a member of L and a member of R, whose difference is as small as we please, (iii) L has no greatest and R has not least member. Our common-sense notion of the attributes of a straight line, the requirements of our elementary geometry and our elementary algebra, alike demand the existence of a number x greater than all the members of L and less than all the members of R, and of a corresponding point P on $\Lambda$ such that P divides the points which correspond to members of L from those which correspond to members of R.

Let us suppose for a moment that there is such a number x and that it may be operated upon in accordance with laws of algebra, so that, for example, $x^{2}$ has a definite meaning. Then $x^{2}$ cannot either be less than or greater than 2. For suppose, for example, that $x^{2}$ is less than 2. Then, it follows from what precedes that we can find a positive rational number $\xi$ such that $\xi^{2}$ lies between $x^{2}$ and 2. That is to say, we can find a member of L greater than x; and this contradicts the supposition that x divides the members of L from those of R. Thus, $x^{2}$ cannot be less than 2, and similarly, it cannot be greater than 2. We are therefore driven to the conclusion that $x^{2}=2$, and that x is the number which in algebra  we denote by $\sqrt{2}$. And, of course, this number $\sqrt{2}$ is not rational, for no rational number has its square equal to 2. It is the simplest example of what is called an irrational number.

But the preceding argument may be applied to equations other than $x^{2}=2$, almost word for word; for example, to

$x^{2}=N$, where N is an integer which is not a perfect square, or to

$latex$x^{3}=3\$ and $x^{2}=7$ and $x^{4}=23$,

or, as we shall see later on. to $x^{3}=3x+8$. We are thus led to believe for the existence of irrational numbers x and points P on $\Lambda$ such that x satisfies equations such as these, even when these lengths cannot (as $\sqrt{2}$ can) be constructed by means of elementary geometric methods.

The reader may now follow one or other of two alternative courses. He may, if he pleases, be content to assume that “irrational numbers” such as $\sqrt{2}$ and $\sqrt[5]{3}$ exist and are amenable to usual algebraic laws. If he does this, he will be able to avoid the more abstract discussions of the next few blogs.

If, on the other hand, he is not disposed to adopt so naive an attitude, he will be well advised to pay careful attention to the blogs which follow, in which these questions receive further consideration.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

# Analysis — Chapter I — Part II — Real Variables

The representation of rational numbers by points on a line.

It is convenient, in many branches of mathematical analysis, to make a good deal of use of geometrical illustrations.

The use of geometrical illustrations in this way does not, of course, imply that analysis has any sort of dependence upon geometry: they are illustrations and nothing more, and are employed merely for the sake of clearness of exposition. This being so, it is not necessary that we should attempt any logical analysis of the ordinary notions of elementary geometry, we may be content to suppose, however, far it may be from the truth, that we know what they mean.

Assuming, then, that we know what is meant by a straight line, a segment of a line, and the length of a segment, let us take a straight line A, produced indefinitely in both directions, and a segment $A_{0}A_{1}$ of any length. We call $A_{0}$ the origin, or the point 0, and $A_{1}$ the point 1, and we regard these points as representing the numbers 0 and 1.

In order to obtain a point which shall represent a rational number $r=p/q$, we choose the point A, such that

$A_{0}A_{r}/A_{0}A_{1}=r$,

$A_{o}A_{r}$, being a stretch of the line extending in the same direction along the line as $A_{0}A_{1}$, a direction which we shall suppose to be from left to right when, the line is drawn horizontally across the paper. In order to obtain a point to represent a negative rational number $r=-s$, it is natural to regard length as a magnitude capable of sign, positive if the length is measured in one direction (that of $A_{0}A_{1}$, and negative if measured in the other, so that $AB=-BA$, and to take as the point representing r the point

$A_{-s}$ such that

$A_{0}A_{-s}=-A_{-s}A_{0}=-A_{0}A_{s}$.

We thus obtain a point $A_{r}$ on the line corresponding to every rational value of r, positive or negative, and such that $A_{0}A_{r}=r.A_{0}A_{1}$;

and if, as is natural, we take $A_{0}A_{1}$ as our unit of length, and write $A_{0}A_{1}$, then we have

$A_{0}A_{r}=r$.

We shall call the points $A_{r}$, the rational points of the line.

More later…

Nalin Pithwa