## The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel"The Library of Babel" is arguably Jorge Luis Borges' best known story--memorialized along with Borges on an Argentine postage stamp. Now, in The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel, William Goldbloom Bloch takes readers on a fascinating tour of the mathematical ideas hidden within one of the classic works of modern literature. Written in the vein of Douglas R. Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gödel, Escher, Bach, this original and imaginative book sheds light on one of Borges' most complex, richly layered works. Bloch begins each chapter with a mathematical idea--combinatorics, topology, geometry, information theory--followed by examples and illustrations that put flesh on the theoretical bones. In this way, he provides many fascinating insights into Borges' Library. He explains, for instance, a straightforward way to calculate how many books are in the Library--an easily notated but literally unimaginable number--and also shows that, if each book were the size of a grain of sand, the entire universe could only hold a fraction of the books in the Library. Indeed, if each book were the size of a proton, our universe would still not be big enough to hold anywhere near all the books. Given Borges' well-known affection for mathematics, this exploration of the story through the eyes of a humanistic mathematician makes a unique and important contribution to the body of Borgesian criticism. Bloch not only illuminates one of the great short stories of modern literature but also exposes the reader--including those more inclined to the literary world--to many intriguing and entrancing mathematical ideas. |

### What people are saying - Write a review

#### LibraryThing Review

User Review - Eoin - LibraryThingOk, so I'm an easy mark for this book. I was concerned that this would be insufficiently mathy or literary or both, but it is a careful balance of readablity and high concept math. What the title promises, the book delivers. Read full review

#### LibraryThing Review

User Review - KXF - LibraryThingThe author does a very good job of explaining some of the mathematics that are implied from Borges' short story, and thus uses this as a generative point. The section on the manifold may be a bit ... Read full review

### Contents

3 | |

Contemplating Variations of the 23 Letters | 11 |

Cataloging the Collection | 30 |

The Book of Sand | 45 |

The Universe Which Others Call the Library | 57 |

Ambiguity and Access | 93 |

Disorderings into Order | 107 |

Structure into Meaning | 120 |

CHAPTER 9 Openings | 141 |

AppendixDissecting the 3Sphere | 148 |

Notations | 157 |

Notes | 159 |

Glossary | 165 |

Annotated Suggested Readings | 175 |

181 | |

187 | |

### Other editions - View all

The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel William Goldbloom Bloch Limited preview - 2008 |

The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel William Goldbloom Bloch Limited preview - 2008 |

The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel William Goldbloom Bloch No preview available - 2008 |

### Common terms and phrases

3-Klein 3-space 3-sphere 3-torus adjacent hexagons analysis arrows Book of Sand Borges calculate the number catalogue chapter circle Combinatorics contained countable cube cylinder digits dimensions distance from origin distinct books equation Euclidean plane Euclidean space exactly example figure fill finite flattened function geometry Grand Pattern Hayles Here’s homomorphism hyperreal hyperreal numbers hypotenuse ideas identified imagine infinite number infinitely thin infinitesimals intersect interval of length intuition Jorge Luis Borges Klein bottle letters libit librarian Library of Babel logarithm manifold Math Aftermath mathematicians mathematics Miguel Cané mirror mirror-reversed nonstandard analysis number of books number of distinct number of hexagons object orthographic symbols path perhaps positive integer possible orderings prime numbers problem Pythagorean theorem reader real number line sides slice slots sphere spine spiral staircase square step story theory thickness three-dimensional topology torus transfinite numbers triangle Turing machine twin primes two-dimensional unimaginable universe volume well-ordering principle