Ordinals (the basics)

This note is meant to collect a few basic facts about ordinals. I found that I didn’t really know how they work and this was embarrassing. I also couldn’t find any source that covered both the basics and some interesting applications, so I tried to assemble them here. Some results proved below are

  • The Borel {\sigma}-algebra has the cardinality of the continuum
  • (Sierpinski) There is a set {A} in the plane such that every line intersects it in exactly two points
  • (Cantor-Bendixson) Any closed subset of {{\mathbb R}} is a union of a perfect set and a countable set.

In what follows, many set-theoretical subtleties are ignored. In particular, von Neumann’s construction of ordinals is not presented.

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