Motivation behind introduction of measure theory

Is the motivation behind the introduction of measure theory the Lebesgue integral? In order to evaluate such an integral we need the length of each of the horizontal strip of width $h$. I have a question here. Why do we need such a general concept of measure? Length is a kind of measure, but why did Lebesgue think of so general a concept of “measure” when he just needed the length to evaluate his integrals? Is there any other motivation behind this ?

Solutions Collecting From Web of "Motivation behind introduction of measure theory"

I’m not sure you can say there’s a single motivation behind introducing a concept, but I found multiple motivations behind the introduction to measure theory I saw.

First, the Cantor set. It’s hard to talk about the length of the Cantor set rigorously since it’s not a single interval, but the result of a countable intersection of unions of intervals. Lebesgue measure makes it easier to see that the “length” of the Cantor set is zero, and then to see that length and cardinality are not very well correlated.

Second, once Lebesgue measure is defined for $\mathbb{R}^d$, integration in multiple dimensions is essentially as easily defined as integration in one dimension (see Stein and Shakarchi’s Real Analysis where the Lebesgue integral is immediately defined for arbitrary positive integer dimension). Another matter brought up in that book is that not all possible Fourier series, in the sense of sequences $\{ a_n \} \in \ell^2(\mathbb{Z})$, have corresponding Riemann integrable functions. However, they do have corresponding Lebesgue integrable functions, and this integral requires the Lebesgue measure.

But for more complicated measures, I think the main motivations I saw in my case were probability spaces (which leads to cool applications in probability), and the counting measure. One of the really nice things about the counting measure is that it clearly shows that sums and integrals are “the same”, so that you can prove theorems about discrete and continuous objects at the same time (for example, Hölder’s, Minkowski’s, and Hilbert’s inequalities).