# Sean Carroll: Hilbert Space and Infinity | Summary and Q&A

119.6K views
November 6, 2019
by
Lex Fridman
Sean Carroll: Hilbert Space and Infinity

## Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the concepts of Hilbert space and Euclidean space. They explain that while most people think of space as the three-dimensional world we live in, mathematicians use the term more broadly to refer to any abstract collection of elements. Hilbert space, specifically, is the space of all possible quantum wave functions for the universe or a specific system. It can be infinite-dimensional or large-dimensional but finite. The speaker also explores the meaning of dimensions in Hilbert space, the concept of entropy, the uncertainty of whether quantum mechanical systems are infinite or finite but very large, and the challenges of dealing with infinity in mathematics and in understanding the real world.

### Q: What is the difference between Hilbert space and Euclidean space?

While we commonly think of space as the three-dimensional world we inhabit, mathematicians use the term more abstractly. Hilbert space refers to the space of all possible quantum wave functions, while Euclidean space is the familiar three-dimensional physical space.

### Q: How do dimensions in Hilbert space represent information?

Dimensions in Hilbert space represent the amount of information needed to specify the state of a system. In classical mechanics, the location and velocity of an object can be represented by six dimensions in a mathematical space known as phase space.

### Q: What is entropy and how does it relate to quantum mechanical systems?

Entropy is a measure of the unknown information about the state of a system. In the context of a quantum mechanical system, entropy characterizes the amount of information that is uncertain or unknown. It quantifies the difference between what is known and the full microscopic state of the system.

### Q: Is the size of Hilbert space infinite or finite?

The size of Hilbert space can vary depending on the system. It could be infinite-dimensional or large-dimensional but finite. The size of Hilbert space determines the potential entropy of the system, which represents the amount of information that could potentially be known about the system.

### Q: Can we comprehend the concept of infinity?

Infinity is a challenging concept to grasp fully, but we can use mathematical tools to manipulate and work with it. While we can define infinity mathematically and understand its properties, our intuition may struggle to comprehend its full implications.

### Q: Are you comfortable with the idea of infinity being part of the real world?

The speaker is open-minded about the nature of the fundamental level of the universe. However, infinity poses challenges to our intuition and could be an overreach of our understanding. It is a concept that requires careful consideration and may not align with our typical way of thinking.

### Q: How does infinity factor into the idea of the real world?

Infinity can be seen as a number that naturally exists in the real world, along with zero and one. It is a useful concept in situations where things become very large or when it helps to imagine an infinite number of things. However, it can also be seen as a way to simplify or abstract details, similar to how averages can obscure the variety within a dataset.

### Q: Why is infinity often used in mathematics?

Infinity tends to arise in mathematics, not because it aligns perfectly with real-world scenarios, but because it can help solve problems and create mathematical consistency. When dealing with large or complex systems, infinity can provide a convenient way to describe or handle certain situations.

### Q: Does infinity have limitations in being used to describe the real world?

While infinity can be a useful mathematical tool, its application to the real world may have limitations. It is essential to consider how infinity aligns with our intuition and whether it accurately represents the complexities and details of the physical universe.

### Q: How does infinity affect computer science?

In computer science, infinity can play a role in determining the runtime of programs. Some programs may take an infinitely long time to complete their execution, which highlights the challenges and complexities that infinity brings to computational systems.

## Takeaways

Infinity and the concepts of Hilbert space and Euclidean space are important in understanding quantum mechanics and the nature of information in physical systems. While infinity can be a challenging concept to comprehend fully, it is a useful tool in mathematics and can help simplify and solve complex problems. The real-world applications and limitations of infinity are still subjects of debate and exploration. It is crucial to explore its relationship to our intuition and its capacity to accurately represent the intricacies of the physical universe.