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As for the mathematical infinite, to the extent that it has found a justified application in science and contributed to is usefulness, it seems to me that it has hitherto appeared principally in the role of a variable quantity, which either grows beyond all bounds or diminishes to any desired minuteness, but always remains finite. I call this the improper infinite [das Uneigentlich-unendliche].
Georg Cantor
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In order for there to be a variable quantity in some mathematical study, the domain of its variability must strictly speaking be known beforehand through a definition. However, this domain cannot itself be something variable, since otherwise each fixed support for the study would collapse. Thus this domain is a definite, actually infinite set of values. Hence each potential infinite, if it is rigorously applicable mathematically, presupposes an actual infinite.
Georg Cantor
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Infinity, in its first form (the improper-infinite) presents itself as a variable finite [veranderliches Endliches]; in the other form (which I call the proper infinite [Eigentlich-unendliche]) it appears as a thoroughly determinate [bestimmtes] infinite.
Georg Cantor
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The potential infinite means nothing other than an undetermined, variable quantity, always remaining finite, which has to assume values that either become smaller than any finite limit no matter how small, or greater than any finite limit no matter how great.
Georg Cantor
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There is no doubt that we cannot do without variable quantities in the sense of the potential infinite. But from this very fact the necessity of the actual infinite can be demonstrated.
Georg Cantor
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Of course, relative citation frequencies are no measure of relative importance. Who has not aspired to write a paper so fundamental that very soon it is known to everyone and cited by no one?
Abraham Pais
Georg Cantor
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Born:
March 3, 1845
Died:
January 6, 1918
(aged 72)
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