Ad infinitum

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This article is about the Latin phrase. For the musical group, see Ad Infinitum (band).

Ad infinitum is a Latin phrase meaning "to infinity" or "forevermore".

Description[edit]

In context, it usually means "continue forever, without limit" and thus can be used to describe a non-terminating process, a non-terminating repeating process, or a set of instructions to be repeated "forever," among other uses. It may also be used in a manner similar to the Latin phrase et cetera to denote written words or a concept that continues for a lengthy period beyond what is shown. Examples include:

  • "The sequence 1, 2, 3, ... continues ad infinitum."
  • "The perimeter of a fractal may be iteratively drawn ad infinitum."
  • The 17th-century writer Jonathan Swift wrote lightheartedly the idea of self-similarity in natural philosophy with the following lines in his poem "On Poetry: A Rhapsody":[1]
...
"So nat'ralists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite 'em.
And so proceeds Ad infinitum."
...
"Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on."


This text is part of the nursery rhyme "The Siphonaptera".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jonathan Swift, "On Poetry: A Rhapsody", pub. 1733
  2. ^ Augustus de Morgan, A Budget of Paradoxes, pub. 1872, p. 377