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Paradox of Tristram Shandy

The Tristram Shandy paradox has its origins in an eighteenth century Lawrence Sterneís novel "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman". The storyteller, Tristram Shandy, was attempting to write his autobiography. However, it took him one year to record the events of a single day of his life. Tristram bewailed that, at this rate, he would never finish.

Bertrand Russell argued that if Tristram Shandy were immortal, and that he would be able to finish his autobiography. Russell's objection that Tristram would be able to complete this task is the source of the Tristram Shandy paradox.

Let us do not discuss Russellís supposition about Tristram Shandyís immortality, and consider paradox from the mathematical point of view only.

There is a one-to-one correspondence between each year that Tristram Shandy writes in and each day he writes about.

1
day
2
days
3
days
4
days
5
days
... n
days
...
pairing numbers pairing numbers pairing numbers pairing numbers pairing numbers ... pairing numbers ...
1
year
2
years
3
years
4
years
5
years
... n
years
...

Therefore, no matter what day of his life we consider, there will eventually come a year in which he will be able to write about it.

by Tetyana Butler

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