# The Infinite Hotel: Understanding Infinity Through Hilbert's Lens

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## Chapter 1: The Concept of an Infinite Hotel

Imagine stepping into a hotel boasting an infinite number of rooms. You arrive seeking accommodation, but the hotel is at full capacity. The receptionist, however, is resourceful. He instructs the guest in room 1 to move to room 2, the one in room 2 to move to room 3, and so forth, with each guest in room n relocating to room n+1.

Once this is executed, room 1 becomes vacant, enabling you to check in. This thought experiment illustrates the paradoxical nature of infinity, showing that ? + 1 = ? in a fully occupied infinite hotel; there’s always space for one more guest.

### The Brilliance of David Hilbert

David Hilbert, a towering figure in 20th-century mathematics, devised this analogy to clarify the perplexities surrounding infinite sets and transfinite arithmetic during his 1924 lecture "Über das Unendliche." He aimed to encourage a proper understanding and acceptance of infinity, countering the historical stigma associated with it.

Early mathematicians, like Georg Cantor, faced severe criticism for trying to define infinity, but Hilbert recognized its elegance and importance. One critical aspect is the distinction between the statements "every room has a guest" and "no additional guests can be accommodated"—these are not equivalent in the context of infinite rooms.

It is essential to approach the equation ? + 1 = ? with caution, as infinity does not function as a traditional number. We typically consider it within an extended number system, such as the extended real line, where we can manipulate numbers.

What if k guests arrive at the fully booked hotel? Simply instruct each guest to move to the room numbered by their current room plus k. For instance, if three guests show up, the occupant of room 1 would shift to room 4, the one in room 2 to room 5, and so on. Consequently, the first three rooms become available.

Now, addressing the question of ? - 1: we can ask the guest in room 1 to leave, allowing the occupant of room 2 to move into room 1, and so forth, resulting in ? once more. Thus, ? - 1 = ?.

### Into the Realm of Infinity

This logic works well until an infinite number of new guests arrives. Here, we specifically refer to a countably infinite scenario, meaning each guest can be identified using natural numbers.

Instead of simply shifting guests, we can relocate the occupant of room 1 to room 2, the occupant of room 2 to room 4, and so forth, which allows us to free up all odd-numbered rooms for the new arrivals. This indicates that the “size” or cardinality of the infinite set of natural numbers is equivalent to that of the even natural numbers, despite one being a subset of the other.

Wait… Does this imply there are just as many natural numbers as there are even natural numbers? Indeed!

In mathematics, we assess infinite sets by examining functions that link them. In this case, we can define a function f(n) = 2n from natural numbers to even natural numbers, which has an inverse g(n) = n/2 mapping from even to natural numbers. This bijective function means that every even natural number corresponds to a unique natural number, establishing a one-to-one relationship.

Consider counting two piles of stones without knowing their sizes; you could pair them by taking one from each pile until one or both are depleted. The process reveals which pile originally held more stones. This concept extends to infinite sets through bijective functions.

### Some Infinities Are Larger Than Others

What happens if an infinite number of buses, each with infinite passengers, arrives at the already full hotel? No issue! We can assign each bus and seat a natural number, creating a unique address for each passenger. The existing guests can be designated with b = 0.

By placing each person in room 2^s × 3^b, for instance, a person in room 1119744 corresponds to bus number 7, seat number 9. This method can be expanded to accommodate even more levels of infinity using additional prime numbers.

However, it’s crucial to note that not all infinite scenarios can be resolved. Some infinities surpass others in terms of cardinality! Yes, infinity isn't uniform; it varies based on the "size" of the sets involved.

For example, the cardinality of the set of all fractions of whole numbers matches that of natural numbers. Surprisingly, there are as many fractions as there are whole positive numbers, even though the latter are also fractions!

If there exists a bijection between natural numbers and a set A, A is deemed countable, with cardinality denoted as ?. This cardinality is often represented as ?0.

### The Continuum

While some infinities are indeed larger than others, this raises intriguing questions. What are examples of sets that have a greater cardinality than natural numbers? An excellent illustration of a set with greater cardinality is the set of real numbers, denoted as ?. This set is uncountable; no bijection exists between ? and ?.

The set of real numbers encompasses all fractions but also includes irrational numbers like ? and e, which cannot be expressed as fractions. The continuum hypothesis questions whether there exists an infinity greater than that of natural numbers but less than that of real numbers; it has been proven neither true nor false within our axiomatic system.

This leads us into the philosophical realms of metamathematics and mathematical logic, where discussions arise regarding the use of alternative axiomatic systems. This exploration can yield entirely new forms of mathematics, which is fascinating!

Lastly, there are infinitely many types of infinities. The question remains: what kind of infinity are we dealing with?

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## Chapter 2: Exploring Hilbert's Hotel

Hilbert's Hotel and Infinity - YouTube: This video delves into the fascinating paradox of Hilbert's Hotel, illustrating the counterintuitive aspects of infinity.

Infinite Hotel Paradoxes - YouTube: This video explores various paradoxes related to infinite hotels, expanding on the implications of infinite sets and their cardinalities.