Date: 05/07/2001 at 17:31:55 From: Ariel Klugman Subject: Paradox What is a paradox? How does it work? Is it right?
Date: 05/08/2001 at 14:33:33 From: Doctor Twe Subject: Re: Paradox Hi Ariel - thanks for writing to Dr. Math. According to the Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary at: http://www.m-w.com/home.htm a paradox is: 1: a tenet contrary to received opinion 2a: a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true b: a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true c: an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises 3: one that possesses seemingly contradictory qualities or phases In math, we usually use the term in the context of definition 2a. The key is that a paradox *seems* to be contradictory, but is in fact true or valid. Here is an entry from our Ask Dr. Math archives that discusses the difference between a paradox and a fallacy: Paradox and Fallacy http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/lee.01.25.01.html Some famous math paradoxes include: Russell's Paradox http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/weibel7.2.96.html http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/mcallister3.25.98.html Zeno's Paradox http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/bearclaw.8.22.96.html http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/gut10.19.html The Infinity Hotel Paradox http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/evening.9.15.99.html The Unexpected Exam Paradox http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/mcdaniel3.26.98.html Bertrand's Paradox http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/krasik.05.09.99.html I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, write back. - Doctor TWE, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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