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Why sets?
 PILLARS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE: ESSAYS DEDICATED TO BORIS (BOAZ) TRAKHTENBROT ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 85TH BIRTHDAY, VOLUME 4800 OF LECTURE NOTES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
, 2008
"... Sets play a key role in foundations of mathematics. Why? To what extent is it an accident of history? Imagine that you have a chance to talk to mathematicians from a faraway planet. Would their mathematics be setbased? What are the alternatives to the settheoretic foundation of mathematics? Besi ..."
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Sets play a key role in foundations of mathematics. Why? To what extent is it an accident of history? Imagine that you have a chance to talk to mathematicians from a faraway planet. Would their mathematics be setbased? What are the alternatives to the settheoretic foundation of mathematics? Besides, set theory seems to play a significant role in computer science; is there a good justification for that? We discuss these and some related issues.
SET THEORY FROM CANTOR TO COHEN
"... Set theory is an autonomous and sophisticated field of mathematics, enormously successful not only at its continuing development of its historical heritage but also at analyzing mathematical propositions and gauging their consistency strength. But set theory is also distinguished by having begun int ..."
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Set theory is an autonomous and sophisticated field of mathematics, enormously successful not only at its continuing development of its historical heritage but also at analyzing mathematical propositions and gauging their consistency strength. But set theory is also distinguished by having begun intertwined with pronounced metaphysical attitudes, and these have even been regarded as crucial by some of its great developers. This has encouraged the exaggeration of crises in foundations and of metaphysical doctrines in general. However, set theory has proceeded in the opposite direction, from a web of intensions to a theory of extension par excellence, and like other fields of mathematics its vitality and progress have depended on a steadily growing core of mathematical proofs and methods, problems and results. There is also the stronger contention that from the beginning set theory actually developed through a progression of mathematical moves, whatever and sometimes in spite of what has been claimed on its behalf. What follows is an account of the development of set theory from its beginnings through the creation of forcing based on these contentions, with an avowedly Whiggish emphasis on the heritage that has been retained and developed by the current theory. The