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103Natural Numbers

The natural numbers \(0,~1,~2,~3,\ldots\), otherwise known as the non-negative integers1, are the numbers familiar even to young children. It is the natural numbers that we use for the very basic mathematical purpose of counting things (see cardinal numbers). We also can use them to order things (see ordinal numbers).

From the formal point of view, natural numbers can be constructed using sets. In particular, we can use the concept of the empty set \(\emptyset\) and call it \(0\), then construct a set containing this empty set and call it \(1\), then construct a set containing the empty set and also the previous set and call it \(2\), etc.:

\[\begin{array}{cclcl}0&:=&\emptyset&=&\emptyset\\1&:=&\left\{0\right\}&=&\left\{\emptyset\right\}\\2&:=&\left\{0,~1\right\}&=&\left\{\emptyset,~\left\{\emptyset\right\}\right\}\\3&:=&\left\{0,~1,~2\right\}&=&\left\{\emptyset,~\left\{\emptyset,~\left\{\emptyset\right\}\right\}\right\}\\\vdots&&\vdots&&\vdots\\\end{array}\]

Another way to define natural numbers is to use a suitable axiomatic system. One of such axiomatic systems are the Peano Axioms.

1 Please note: Another common way is to understand the set of natural numbers is as positive integers, excluding the number 0. In bookofproofs.org, natural numbers are always including 0, by convention.

| | | | Contributors: bookofproofs

2151.Order

8772.Proposition: Algebraic Structure Of Natural Numbers Together With Multiplication

5043.Axiom: Peano Axioms (Peano)

7184.Definition: Set-theoretic Definitions of Natural Numbers (Ernst Zermelo 1908, John von Neumann 1923)

8415.Proposition: Algebraic Structure Of Natural Numbers Together With Addition

10306.Proposition: Distributivity Law For Natural Numbers

14367.Proposition: Right-Distributivity Law For Natural Numbers


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