n. 1 (context mathematics English) The limit of a convergent sequence of rational numbers, whether the limit is a rational number such as 2, -5, or 2/7 or whether the limit is an irrational number such as the square root of two or the length of the circle whose radius is one. 2 (context computing English) A floating-point number.
n. any rational or irrational number [syn: real]
In mathematics, a real number is a value that represents a quantity along a continuous line. The adjective real in this context was introduced in the 17th century by Descartes, who distinguished between real and imaginary roots of polynomials.
The real numbers include all the rational numbers, such as the integer −5 and the fraction 4/3, and all the irrational numbers, such as (1.41421356…, the square root of 2, an irrational algebraic number). Included within the irrationals are the transcendental numbers, such as (3.14159265…). Real numbers can be thought of as points on an infinitely long line called the number line or real line, where the points corresponding to integers are equally spaced. Any real number can be determined by a possibly infinite decimal representation, such as that of 8.632, where each consecutive digit is measured in units one tenth the size of the previous one. The real line can be thought of as a part of the complex plane, and complex numbers include real numbers.
These descriptions of the real numbers are not sufficiently rigorous by the modern standards of pure mathematics. The discovery of a suitably rigorous definition of the real numbers – indeed, the realization that a better definition was needed – was one of the most important developments of 19th century mathematics. The current standard axiomatic definition is that real numbers form the unique complete totally ordered field up to an isomorphism, whereas popular constructive definitions of real numbers include declaring them as equivalence classes of Cauchy sequences of rational numbers, Dedekind cuts, or certain infinite "decimal representations", together with precise interpretations for the arithmetic operations and the order relation. These definitions are equivalent in the realm of classical mathematics.
The reals are uncountable; that is: while both the set of all natural numbers and the set of all real numbers are infinite sets, there can be no one-to-one function from the real numbers to the natural numbers: the cardinality of the set of all real numbers (denoted $\mathfrak c$ and called cardinality of the continuum) is strictly greater than the cardinality of the set of all natural numbers (denoted ℵ 'aleph-naught'). The statement that there is no subset of the reals with cardinality strictly greater than ℵ and strictly smaller than $\mathfrak c$ is known as the continuum hypothesis (CH). It is known to be neither provable nor refutable using the axioms of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory and the axiom of choice (ZFC), the standard foundation of modern mathematics, in the sense that some models of ZFC satisfy CH, while others violate it.
Usage examples of "real number".
Nichols beat some guy up at a sports bar in Inglewood, did a real number on him, broke some bones.
Somebody tried to organize a massacre at my place last night, and nearly did a real number on us.
The older Jack admitted that the mind techs had done a real number on him, during his months of captivity, messing with his thoughts and memories as they broke his spirit day by day.