Nishant Kothary on Perfection

Thoughtful musings by Nishant Kothary on perfection in web development and design, but I most enjoyed this description of Russel’s Paradox, from Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem:

Russell’s paradox is often explained using the tale of the meticulous librarian. One day, while wandering between the shelves, the librarian discovers a collection of catalogues. There are separate catalogues for novels, reference, poetry, and so on. The librarian notices that some of the catalogues list themselves, while others do not.

In order to simplify the system the librarian makes two more catalogues, one of which lists all the catalogues which do list themselves and, more interestingly, one which lists all the catalogues which do not list themselves. Upon completing the task the librarian has a problem: should the catalogue which lists all the catalogues which do not list themselves, be listed in itself? If it is listed, then by definition, it should not be listed. However, if it is not listed, then by definition it should be listed. The librarian is in a no-win situation.

Check out Nishant’s work on Microsoft’s Build 2013 website.

And also his copyright statement.


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