18085 | Values that approach zero, becoming less than any quantity, are 'infinitesimals' |
Full Idea: When the successive absolute values of a variable decrease indefinitely in such a way as to become less than any given quantity, that variable becomes what is called an 'infinitesimal'. Such a variable has zero as its limit. | |
From: Augustin-Louis Cauchy (Cours d'Analyse [1821], p.19), quoted by Philip Kitcher - The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge 10.4 | |
A reaction: The creator of the important idea of the limit still talked in terms of infinitesimals. In the next generation the limit took over completely. |
18084 | When successive variable values approach a fixed value, that is its 'limit' |
Full Idea: When the values successively attributed to the same variable approach indefinitely a fixed value, eventually differing from it by as little as one could wish, that fixed value is called the 'limit' of all the others. | |
From: Augustin-Louis Cauchy (Cours d'Analyse [1821], p.19), quoted by Philip Kitcher - The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge 10.4 | |
A reaction: This seems to be a highly significan proposal, because you can now treat that limit as a number, and adds things to it. It opens the door to Cantor's infinities. Is the 'limit' just a fiction? |