My *nix world

Does the barber shave himself?

I would like to suggest a brain teaser:

The barber is a man in town who shaves all those, and only those, men in town who do not shave themselves.
Does the barber shave himself?


According to the statement above if the barber is gonna shave himself then the barber is not going to shave him because the barber shaves only these who don't shave themselves. If your answer is "it's a paradox!" then you are right. It is called "The barber paradox" and is derived from the Bertrand Russell's paradox.

According to naive set theory any definable collection is a set. Let R be the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. If R is not a member of itself, then its definition dictates that it must contain itself, and if it contains itself, then it contradicts its own definition as the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. This contradiction is Russell's paradox. Symbolically: \text{Let } R = \{ x \mid x \not \in x \} \text{, then } R \in R \iff R \not \in R
(source: Wikipedia)


By using Russell's paradox you can derive yourself many such paradox. If you are interested in the set theory and its limits then I would recommend you reading this article.

Now, if you think that this article was interesting don't forget to rate it. It shows me that you care and thus I will continue write about these things.

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Does the barber shave himself?

Eugen Mihailescu

Founder/programmer/one-man-show at Cubique Software
Always looking to learn more about *nix world, about the fundamental concepts of math, physics, electronics. I am also passionate about programming, database and systems administration. 16+ yrs experience in software development, designing enterprise systems, IT support and troubleshooting.
Does the barber shave himself?

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