We introduce the idea of a `Cauchy sequence of rational numbers'. The notion is in fact logically problematic. It involves epsilons and N's, much as does the notion of a limit, and suffers from similiar issues: how to guarantee that we can find an infinite number of N's for an infinite number of epsilons (making the very generous assumption that the term `sequence' does not really have to be defined properly!)Built on top of this idea is the most familiar story for the `construction' of real numbers: to imagine that the limit of a Cauchy sequence of rationals can be defined to be essentially the sequence itself! The `essentially' refers to the fact that different Cauchy sequences can head in the same direction: so it means that we must introduce a complicated notion of equivalence into the story (more infinite numbers of checks, repeated an uncountably infinite number of times!). This crude and dubious attempt at pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps renders most computations with real numbers essentially vacuous. Of course this is not what current pure mathematicians want to hear! We want to believe in real numbers as Cauchy sequences, for reasons that will become clearer in the next video.
Does mathematics make logical sense? No, it does not. Foundational issues have been finessed by modern mathematicians, and this series aims to turn things around. And it will have interesting things to say also about mathematics education---especially at the primary and high school level. The plan is to start right from the beginning, and to define all the really important concepts of basic mathematics without any waffling or appeals to authority. Roughly we discuss first arithmetic, then geometry, then algebra, then analysis, then set theory. This course is aimed for a general audience, interested in mathematics, or willing to learn.