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This course is part of the MAGIC core.


This course is an introduction to set theory, focusing on foundational issues but with an eye also on the study of combinatorial properties of infinite objects.
We will start by motivating and introducing ZFC. Then we will develop the basic theory of the ordinals and cardinals in this theory, and will prove some classical theorems of combinatorial flavour. Possible topics may include cardinal arithmetic, Aronszajn trees, infinite Ramsey theory and/or some results on determinacy of games. Time permitting, I will briefly discuss large cardinal axioms, the independence phenomenon, and the problem of finding natural extensions of ZFC.
One of the goals of the course is to engage a working mathematician into looking at the foundations of the mathematical building.


Autumn 2018 (Monday, October 8 to Friday, December 14)


  • Live lecture hours: 10
  • Recorded lecture hours: 0
  • Total advised study hours: 40


  • Thu 15:05 - 15:55


There are no prerequisites for this course, except for a reasonable level of mathematical maturity. Having been exposed to a course in mathematical logic would be desirable but not necessary. I will in fact give brief introductions to the relevant notions from logic.


Naive set theory: Sets as foundational framework for mathematics. Paradoxes.
Axiomatic set theory: ZFC.
Ordinals and cardinals. Transfinite recursion and induction. The cumulative hierarchy.
Countable and uncountable sets.
The Axiom of Choice.
Basic cardinal artihmetic.
Some combinatorial set theory: Aronszajn trees, infinite Ramsey theory.
Determinacy of infinite games.
Large cardinal axioms: Weakly compact, measurable, and beyond.
Natural axioms for mathematics: Extending ZFC.


David Aspero
Phone +44 (0)1603 591433
Photo of David Aspero
Profile: I am a lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the School of Mathematics of the University of East Anglia. My work in mathematics is in set theory, and more specifically in infinite combinatorics, forcing, forcing axioms, large cadinals, definability issues, and the interactions between these areas.


Set theory: an introduction to independence proofsKenneth Kunen
Set Theory: The Third Millenium Edition, Revised and ExpandedThomas Jech
A mathematical introduction to logic (2nd. edition)Herbert Enderton


Clicking on the link for a book will take you to the relevant Google Book Search page. You may be able to preview the book there. On the right hand side you will see links to places where you can buy the book. There is also link marked 'Find this book in a library'. This sometimes works well, but not always. (You will need to enter your location, but it will be saved after you do that for the first time.)


There will be a take-home exam at the end of the course. The questions will be posted shortly after the end of the lecture period. Solutions may be submitted as scanned pdf's.

Set theory exam

Files:Exam paper
Released: Sunday 6 January 2019 (260.3 days ago)
Deadline: Sunday 20 January 2019 (245.3 days ago)

This paper will be marked as pass/fail. Attempt FIVE out of the following six question. Do not submit solutions to all six questions. In order to pass you are required to obtain 50 marks out of 100. With the exceptions of the results you are asked to prove, you may use any of the results we have seen in the lectures. However, you must always clearly quote the theorems you are using. You may consult any references you want. Work in ZF for all questions unless specified otherwise.

Recorded Lectures

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