Month: March 2016

Georg Cantor, Disruptive Thinker 100 Years Ahead of His Time

Happy Birthday Georg Cantor, legendary German mathematician (and philosopher).  He would have been 161, today, March 3, 2016.  Without Cantor, the Buzz Lightyear Toy Story mantra, “To infinity and beyond” would be nonsense.  (Ah, did you laugh at that because it was nonsense?)  Well Cantor wouldn’t be laughing based upon  his invention of transfinite numbers.

Inventor of Set Theory and Transfinite Numbers

German mathematician, Georg Cantor (b.1845 d.1918)

It is well-established in set theory (which Cantor also invented) that there are an infinity of infinities, each more infinite than the one prior.  If you’re interested in learning about this concept, try the fast-paced entertaining book or audio performance that includes Cantor’s set of infinities, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea.

Sadly Cantor was too far ahead of his time.  He started suffering bouts of depression later in life, which historians often link with the harsh criticism he faced in his own time.  His former professor, Leopold Kronecker, himself an elder statesman of German mathematicians and number theory, called Cantor a “corrupter of youth” for teaching his crazy number ideas at university.  The journal Acta Methematica withheld publishing important work by Cantor.  The editor wrote him that his paper was “…about one hundred years too soon.”  I won’t go any further into Cantor’s history as it is well-covered across the Internet.

SALESPHASE owes a debt of gratitude to Cantor for his invention of set theory, one of the fundamental underpinnings of mathematics.  His mingling of mathematics and philosophy were personally inspirational to me during the early formation of SALESPHASE and its new calculus for measuring, modeling, evaluating and interpreting imperfect information about complex strategic “deals” that can involve commercial, social, research or political opportunities.

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