Satan, Cantor, and Infinity and Other Mind-Boggling Puzzles

Satan, Cantor, and Infinity and Other Mind-Boggling Puzzles

by Raymond M. Smullyan

View All Available Formats & Editions

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Smullyan's latest challenging collection of logic puzzles, the Sorcerer, a logician who uses logic so cleverly it seems like magic, visits an island where intelligent robots create other robots. King Zorn, Princess Annabelle, truth-telling knights and lying knaves lighten the presentation of puzzles as the Sorcerer explains the pioneering discoveries of mathematician Georg Cantor (1845-1918) who proved that there are different orders of infinity, and as he delves into paradoxes about probability, time and change. Smullyan ( The Lady or the Tiger? ) tosses in metapuzzles (which are solved on the basis of knowing that certain other puzzles can or cannot be solved) and explores self-referentiality, a property crucial to Kurt Godel's famous incompleteness theorem. The Sorcerer closes with a tale of how Satan is outwitted by a student of Cantor's. A mind-stretching entertainment for the serious, dedicated puzzle-solver. (Nov.)
Angus Trimnell
Smullyan is a logician who creates fictional worlds (e.g., The Island of Knights and Knaves, where the former tell only the truth and the latter only lies) for a couple of purposes. He teaches. It is through the persona of the Sorcerer, our guide, that he instructs the characters--and the reader--in the techniques of logical solutions and problems. Meanwhile, he engages the reader with the puzzles that he has created to be solved. By imposing a fictional facade, he is somewhat successful in enlivening these techniques, which can grow tedious when solution becomes obvious as a matter of mathematically graphing and eliminating options. His story progresses to more complex worlds wherein computers with letter codes dismantle and reconstruct themselves in response to their codes and those of others, and the reader must develop codes to bring about certain responses. This is not a book for casual crossword puzzlers. But for philosophers and the math-minded, it will provide good entertainment.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >