MAGIC050: Set Theory

Course details

A core MAGIC course


Autumn 2023
Monday, October 2nd to Friday, December 8th


Live lecture hours
Recorded lecture hours
Total advised study hours


16:05 - 16:55 (UK)

Course forum

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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.


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.


  • Dr Andrew Brooke-Taylor

    Dr Andrew Brooke-Taylor

    University of Leeds


No bibliography has been specified for this course.


The assessment for this course will be released on Monday 8th January 2024 at 00:00 and is due in before Friday 19th January 2024 at 11:00.

Assessment for all MAGIC courses is via take-home exam which will be made available at the release date (the start of the exam period).

You will need to upload a PDF file with your own attempted solutions by the due date (the end of the exam period).

If you have kept up-to-date with the course, the expectation is it should take at most 3 hours’ work to attain the pass mark, which is 50%.

Please note that you are not registered for assessment on this course.


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