In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, WM <email@example.com> wrote:
> Matheology § 172 > > Wallis in 1684  accepts, without any great enthusiasm, the use of > Stevin's decimals. He still only considers finite decimal expansions > and realises that with these one can approximate numbers (which for > him are constructed from positive integers by addition, subtraction, > multiplication, division and taking nth roots) as closely as one > wishes. However, Wallis understood that there were proportions which > did not fall within this definition of number, such as those > associated with the area and circumference of a circle: > > Real numbers became very much associated with magnitudes. No > definition was really thought necessary, and in fact the mathematics > was considered the science of magnitudes. Euler, in Complete > introduction to algebra (1771) wrote in the introduction: > "Mathematics, in general, is the science of quantity; or, the science > which investigates the means of measuring quantity." He also defined > the notion of quantity as that which can be continuously increased or > diminished and thought of length, area, volume, mass, velocity, time, > etc. to be different examples of quantity. All could be measured by > real numbers. > > Cauchy, in Cours d'analyse (1821), did not worry too much about the > definition of the real numbers. He does say that a real number is the > limit of a sequence of rational numbers but he is assuming here that > the real numbers are known. Certainly this is not considered by Cauchy > to be a definition of a real number, rather it is simply a statement > of what he considers an "obvious" property. He says nothing about the > need for the sequence to be what we call today a Cauchy sequence and > this is necessary if one is to define convergence of a sequence > without assuming the existence of its limit.
Today, over 190 years later, the definition of the real number field is fairly well settled, certainly well enough that someone as grossly incompetent at mathematics as WM, will not be able to find anything as yet unknown about it.