Georg Cantor

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George Cantor invented Infinity in order to prove that mathematics was all wrong. After succeeding with this difficult task he retired to a mental asylum to relax in company with a finite number of friends, plus one.

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In 1992 the Mathematical Association of America published a book by defendant Underwood Dudley, a professor of mathematics at DePauw University in Indiana, entitled Mathematical Cranks. One of these "cranks" is the plaintiff, William Dilworth, an engineer who (the complaint alleges) has published a half dozen articles in mathematics journals. One of these articles, "A Correction in Set Theory," published in 1974 in the Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, drew Dudley's ire. Dilworth, according to Dudley, "chose to prove that Cantor's diagonal process is a snare and a delusion." "The reply to this argument," writes Dudley, "--which usually elicits an 'Oh' after a few seconds' thought from bright undergraduates--that the list [of the real numbers between 0 and 1] contains only the terminating decimals and none of the non-terminating ones, might not affect [Dilworth] at all. His article reads as if it is by someone convinced, whose mind is not going to be changed by anything. It is, in two words, a crank, and it is no credit to the state of [Wisconsin]."