August 28, 2010

The wikiBerry paradox

RechentischThe interesting number paradox pretends to show that there is no smallest uninteresting number (because otherwise it would be interesting for this reason).

Yesterday one of my friends (I think it was Stuart) suggested the Wikipedia version: the smallest integer without a page in Wikipedia. A quick check suggests the smallest integer without its own page (at the point of writing) is 217. Given this important property, clearly it deserves its own page (and if it got it does not deserve it, and so on).

Of course, Wikipedia has an easy way out: declare that the whole issue is not notable. This is similar to declaring that all numbers and their properties are uninteresting. Declaring it not notable works unless it becomes a big debate like malamanteau (214,000 hits according to Google right now). Overall, XKCD has amply demonstrated that like complex formal systems powerful enough to allow self-reference Wikipedia has Gödel-like topics it cannot cover according to its own rules. Of course, not being a formal system and run by intelligent agents the attempts of getting out of such states are pretty inventive.

Posted by Anders3 at August 28, 2010 11:53 PM