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1 Author: Prof.

Dr Md Abdul Hoque

Set

Definition. A set is a well defined collection of objects. The objects of a set are called
elements, or the points or the members of the set.
The { } Notation for sets: We sometimes denote a set by listing its elements, separated
by commas, between second braces. Thus the set of all positive integers that are less than
4 can be written as {1, 2, 3}. The order in which the elements of a set, is listed is not
important. Thus
{1, 3, 2}, (2, 1, 3}, {2, 3, 1}, {3, 2, 1} and {3, 1, 2},
are all representation of the set above. In addition, repetitions of some of the elements
(which may occur in different description of a set) do not alter the set. Thus, {1, 3, 3, 2,
1} is another representation of the above set. We use upper case letters such as A, B, C,
etc to denote sets, and lower case letters such as a, b, c, x, y, z, t, r etc to denote the
member of a set. We indicate the fact that x is an element of the set A by writing x  A ,
read as ‘x belongs to A’ and ‘x does not belongs to A’ is denoted by x  A.. Let
A = {1, 3, 7, 9}
Then 1  A, 3  A, 7  A, 9  A but 2  A.
Sometimes it is inconvenient or impossible to describe a set by listing all its elements. To
fill up this gap another useful way to define a set is by specifying a property that the
elements of the set have in common. For example, the set A = {1, 2, 3} can be
represented as
A = { x x is a positive integer and less than 4}
Examples
Z  { x x is an integer}
Z   { x x is a positive integer}
N = { x x is a positive integer}
Q = { x x is a rational number}
R = { x x is a real number}

Empty Set
Definition: The set that has no element in it is denoted either by { } or the symbol 
and is called the empty set.
Example: The set { x x is a real number and x 2  4 }=  , since the square of a real
number is always nonnegative.

Singleton Set
Definition: A set consisting of only one element is called a singleton set.
Example:. {3} is a singleton set.

Universal Set
An universal set U is a set containing all the sets under discussion. For example, if we
were discussing finite sets of positive integers, then the set of natural number N would be
2 Author: Prof. Dr Md Abdul Hoque

the universal set. If we are dealing with real numbers, then the set of real numbers R
would be the universal set.

Finite Set, Cardinality and Infinite Set

A set A is called finite if it has finite number of elements, i. e., if A has distinct n
elements, where n  N. In this case n is called the cardinality of A. That is, the number
of elements in a finite set is called its cardinality. A set that is not finite is called an
infinite set.
Examples
A = {1, 2, 3, 4} is a finite set while N, Z, Q and R all are infinite sets.

Countable set
A set is called countable if there exiss a one-one correspondence between elements of the
set N to the given set. A countable set may be finite or infinite.
Example: The finite set {2, 3, 5, 7} is countable because 1 corresponds to 2, 2
corresponds to 3, 3 corresponds to 5 and 4 corresponds to 7. Also the infinite set
{1, ½, 1/3, ¼, …} is countable because 1  1, 2  1 / 2, 3  1 / 3, 4  1 / 4,....

Complement of a Set
Definition: If A and B are two sets, we define the complement of B with respect to A as
the set of all elements that belong to A but do not belong to B and denote it by A - B.
Symbolically: A – B = { x x  A and x B}.
Example. Let A = {a, b, c} and B = {b, c, d, e}. Then A – B = {a} and B – A = {d, e}.
The complement of A denoted by Ac, is the set of all elements x in the universal set U
such that x is not in A.

Equality of Sets
Two sets A and B are said to be equal if they have the same elements and write A = B
Example. If A = {1, 2, 3, 4} and B = { x x is a positive integer and x 2  20 }, then A = B.

Subset
Definition. If A and B are sets, then A is called a subset of B, written A  B , if, and only
if, every element of A is also an element of B.
Symbolically: A  B  x, if x  A then x  B
The phrase A is contained or included in B and B contains or includes A are alternative
ways of saying that A is a subset of B.
It follows from the definition of subset that a set A is not a subset of B, if, and only if,
there is at least one element of A that does not belongs to B.
Example. Let A = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}, B = {2, 4, 5}, C = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}
Then B  A, C  A but A is not a B or C.

Proper Subset
Definition. Let A and B be sets. A is a proper subset of B if, and only if, every element of
A is in B but there is at least one element in B that is not in A. In the previous example
both B and C are proper subsets of A.
3 Author: Prof. Dr Md Abdul Hoque

Operations on Sets
Union and Intersection of sets
Let A and B be the subsets of a universal set U
Definition: The union of A and B, denoted by A  B, is the set of all elements x in U such
that x is in A or x is in B. Symbolically:
A  B  {x  U x  A or x  B}
The Venn diagram for union is as follows:

A B

Example: Let A = {a, b, c, e, f} B = {b, d, r, s}. Then

A  B  {a, b, c, d , e, f , r , s}
Example: Let A  {x  R  1  x  1} and B = {x  R 0  x  2} . Then
A  B  {x  1  x  2}
The intersection of A and B, denoted by A  B, is the set of all elements in U such that x
in A and x is in B. Symbolically:
A  B  x U x  A and x  B
The Venn diagram of the intersection of A and B is shown below:

A B

Example: Let A = {1, 4, 5, 6 7} B = {3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 15, 20}

Then A  B  {4, 5, 6}
Example: Let A = { x 2  x  5} and B = { x 3  x  8}
Then A  B  {x 3  x  5}

Partition of Sets
Definition. In many applications of set theory, sets are divided up into non-overlapping
(or disjoint) pieces. Such a division is called a partition.
4 Author: Prof. Dr Md Abdul Hoque

Two sets are called disjoint if, and only if, they have no common element. Symbolically:
The sets A and B are disjoint  A  B  .
Example: Let A = {1, 3, 5, 7}and B = { 2, 4, 6}. Then A  B  . So, A and B are
disjoint.

Mutually disjoint sets

Sets A1 , A 2 ,...A n are mutually disjoint (or pair-wise disjoint) if, and only if, no two sets
A i and A j with distinct subscripts have any elements in common. More precisely, for all
i, j =1, 2,…, n, Ai  A j   whenever i  j.
Example: Let A1 = {3, 5,}, A2 = {1, 4, 6} and A3 = {2}. Here the sets have no common
element. So, they are disjoint. However, the sets A1 = (3, 4, 5,6}, A2 = [ 4, 7, 9} and
A3 = {1, 2, 8}are not disjoint because A1 and A2 have common element 4.

Definition. A collection of non-empty sets { A1 , A 2 ,...A n } is a partition of a set A if, and

only if,
1. A  A1  A 2  ...  A n
2. A1 , A 2 ,...A n are mutually disjoint.
This type of partition is is shown below:

A AA

Examples: Let A = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7}, A1 = {1, 2, 3}, A2 = {4, 5}, A3 = {6, 7}. Here A
is the union of A1, A2 and A3 and they have no common element. So, they are mutually
disjoint.

Power Sets.
Definition. Given a set A. Then the power set of A, denoted by P(A), is the set of all
subsets of A.
Example: Let A = {a, b}. Then P(A) = { ,{a}, {b}, {a, b}}
Ordered n-tuple
Let n be a positive integer and let x1 , x2 ,..., xn be any elements (not necessarily distinct).
The ordered n-tuple, ( x1 , x2 ,..., xn ) consists of x1 , x2 ,..., xn along with the ordering first
x1, then x2, and so forth up to xn. An ordered 2-tuple is called an ordered pair and an
ordered 3-tuple is called ordered triple. Two ordered tuples are said to be equal if, only if,
the corresponding components are equal. Symbolically:
5 Author: Prof. Dr Md Abdul Hoque

( x1 , x2 ,..., xn ) = ( y1 , y 2 ,..., y n )  xi  yi i.

Examples: i) Is (1, 2) = (2, 1) ?
ii) Is (3, (-2)2, ½) = ( 9 , 4, 3 / 6)
Answer. i) Not because the corresponding components are not equal
ii) Note that the corresponding components are equal and hence they are equal.

Cartesian Products
Definition. Given two sets A and B, the Cartesian product of A and B, denoted by AxB
(read as ‘A cross B’) is the set of all ordered pairs (a, b), where a is in A and b is in B.
Given sets A1 , A 2 ,...A n , the Cartesian product of A1 , A 2 ,...A n , denoted by
A1xA 2 x...xA n , is the set of all ordered n-tuples ( a1 , a 2 ,..., a n ) where
ai  Ai i  1,2,..., n
Symbolically:
AxB = {(a, b) a  A, b  B} )
A1xA 2 x...xA n  {(a1, a2 ,..., an ) ai  Ai  1,2,..., n}

Example: Let A = {x, y} and B = {1, 2, 3). C = {a, b} Find AxB and (AxB)xC.
Answer. AxB = {(x, 1), (x, 2), (x, 3), (y, 1), (y, 2), (y, 3)}
(AxB)xC = {((x, 1), a) ((x, 1), b), ((x, 2), a), ((x, 2),b), ((x, 3), a), ((x, 3), b),
((y, 1), a) ((y, 1), b), ((y, 2), a), ((y, 2),b), ((y, 3), a), ((y, 3), b)}

Properties of Sets
Some Subset Relations
i) Inclusion of Intersection: For all sets A and B,
A  B  A and A  B  B
ii) Inclusion in Union:
A  A  B and B  A  B
iii) Transitive property of subsets:
AB and B  C, then A  C

Element Argument: The Basic Method of Proving That One set is a Subset of
Another
Let set X and Y be given. To prove that X , Y,
1. Suppose that x is a particular but arbitrary chosen element of X
2. Show that x is an element of Y.

Procedural Version of Set Definitions

Let X and Y be subsets of a universal set U and suppose x and y are elements of U. Then
1. x  X  Y  x  X or x  Y
2. x  X  Y  x  X and x  Y
3. x  X - Y  x  X and x  Y
6 Author: Prof. Dr Md Abdul Hoque

4. x  X  x  U and x  X
c

5. ( x, y )  XxY  x  X and y  Y

Proof of Subset Relation

i) Let x  A  B. Then x  A and x  B
So, A  B  A and A  B  B
From logical point of view we can also write
pq
p where p: x is in A; q: x is in B
Prove the others yourself as an exercise

Set Identities
Let all sets included in the set identities below be subsets of a universal set.
1. Commutative Laws: For all sets A and B
A  B  B  A and A  B  B  A
2. Associative Laws: For all sets A, B and C
(A  B)  C  A  (B  C) and (A  B)  C  A  (B  C)
3. Distributive Laws: For all sets A, B and C
A  (B  C)  (A  B)  (A  C) and A  (B  C)  (A  B)  (A  C)
4. Identity laws: For a set A
A    A and A  U  A
5. Complement laws: For any set A
A  Ac  U and A  Ac  
6. Double Complement law: For any set (A )  A
c c

7. Idempotent Laws: For any set A

A  A  A and A  A  A
8. Universal Bound Laws: For any set A
A  U  U and A    
9. De Morgan’s Law: For any sets A and B
(A  B) c  A c  Bc and (A  B) c  A c  Bc
10. Absorption Laws: For any sets A and B
A  (A  B)  A and A  (A  B)  A
11. Complements of U and  :
U c   and  c  U
12. Set Difference laws: For any set A and B
A - B  A  Bc

Basic Method of Showing That Two Sets are Equal

Let sets X and Y be given sets. To prove that X = Y,
prove that X  Y and Y  X
7 Author: Prof. Dr Md Abdul Hoque

Proof.
3. Let x  A  (B  C) . Then x  A or x  B  C ,
which implies x  A or x  B and x  A or x  C
xAB and x  A  C
 x  (A  B)  (A  C)
Thus A  (B  C)  (A  B)  (A  C)
Again let x  (A  B)  (A  C)
Then x  A  B and x  A  C That is,
x  A or x  B and x  A or x  C
Implying x  A or x  B  C leading to x  A  ( B  C)
Thus (A  B)  (A  C)  A  (B  C)
Therefore, A  (B  C)  (A  B)  (A  C)
The other one prove yourself.
5. For any x  A  Ac , x  U. So, A  Ac  U
Again let x  U. Then if x  A, x  A c . But x  A  Ac
If x  A c , then x  A . But x  A  Ac
In both cases U  A  Ac and hence A  Ac  U.
6. Let x  (A c ) c . Then x  A c . So x  A. Thus (A c ) c  A.
Again let x  A. Then x  A c and hence x  (A c ) c . Thus A  (A c ) c .
Therefore, ( A )  A .
c c

9. Let x  (A  B) c . Then x  A  B, which implies x  A and x  B , which implies

x  A c and x  Bc , that is, x  Ac  Bc . Thus (A  B) c  Ac  Bc .
Again let x  Ac  Bc . Then x  A c and x  Bc , which implies x  A and x  B.
So, x  A  B and hence x  (A  B) c . Thus Ac  Bc  (A  B)c . Therefore,
(A  B) c  A c  Bc and (A  B) c  A c  Bc
12. Let x  A - B.
Then x  A but x  B. This implies x  A and x  Bc and hence x  A  B .
c

c
Thus A  B  A  B .
Again let x  A  B . Then x  A and x  Bc , which implies x  A and x  B .
c

c c