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Sets

Sets are one of the most fundamental concepts in modern mathematics. In mathematical terms, a set can be thought of as any unordered collection of distinct objects. The objects in a set are called elements, or members, of the set.

Set Notation

To denote that an element a, is a member of the set A, we use the notation: a A

To denote that an element a, is not a member of the set A, we use the notation: a A

A set containing no elements is an empty set (or null set) denoted by: or { }

Examples:

The set V of all vowels in the English alphabet can be written as: V = {a, e, i, o, u}

The set O of all odd positive integers less than 10 can be written as: O = {1, 3, 5, 7, 9}

The set, E, of even positive integers less than 100 can be written as: E = {2, 4, 6,…, 96, 98}

Exercises:

Write the set, P, of all integers less than 100 that are powers of 2:

Write the set, N, of all letters in your first name:

Sets can also be described by using what is known as set builder notation. This involves stating some property or properties that all elements of the set must have.

Example:

The set of all odd positive integers less that 10 can be written as:

O = {x | x is an odd positive integer less than 10}

or:

O

=

{

x

+

| x is odd and x

<

10

}

Where Z is a standard set of all integers. The + superscript denotes that the set is all positive integers.

Example:

+

=

{ x

The set of all positive rational numbers

+

can be written as:

| x

=

p q
p q

, for some positive integers p and q}

Set builder notation is often used to describe sets for which listing all elements of the set are impractical or impossible.

Z and are examples of standard sets. These sets play an important role in discrete mathematics.

or { } , the empty set

Z = {

, 2, 1,0,1, 2,

} , the set of integers

Z

Z

+

=

{1, 2,3,

}

, the set of positive integers

{

= − −

1,

2,

3,

}

, the set of negative integers

=

{

p | q
p
|
q

p Z q Z

,

, and

q

0}

, the set of real numbers

, the set of rational numbers

Classification of Sets

- A set is finite if it contains a specific number of distinct elements. Otherwise the set is infinite.

A = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} is a finite set of 5 distinct elements

(the set of all real numbers) is an example of an infinite set

- Two sets, A and B, are equal if they contain the same elements. Order of elements and repeated elements does not matter.

Example: If A = {x, y}, B = {y, x}, and C = {x, y, y, x}, then A = B = C

- Two sets A and B are equivalent if they have the same number of elements. There is a one- to-one correspondence between elements in equivalent sets. Here are examples of three equivalent sets:

W = {0, 1}, X = {yes, no},

Y = {+, -}

- A null set is a set that contains no elements, denoted by .

- The entire group of objects under consideration is known as the universal set. It is a pool of all values from which a valid set member may be drawn. The set of real numbers, , is the universal set for many mathematical processes.

Exercises:

1. List all members of the following sets:

a)

b)

c)

d)

A x

B

x

D

x

C

{

=

{

5

<

x

<

14

}

=

=

x x is a suit in a standard deck of 52 cards

{

{

+

| x

x

2

<

0

}

− =

8

0

}

= ∈

}

2. Write the following statement using set builder notation: The set, S, of the square roots of all positive integers less than 20.

3. Given the sets:

V

= {

m a t h

,

,

,

}

W =

{

1, 4,9,16, 25

}

 

X

= x

{

 

x

> 10

}

Y

{

= x

x

=

2

y

,

1

y

5,

y

}

Z

{

= 2, 4,8,16

}

 

a)

Which sets are finite? Which are infinite?

b)

Which sets are equal?

 

c)

Which sets are equivalent?

 

4. What is a universal set that can be used for constructing the set V of all lower case vowels in the English alphabet?

Answers:

1. List all members of the following sets:

a)

b)

c)

d)

{

A x

=

5

<

x

<

14

}

{6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13}

B

{clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades}

=

{

x x is a suit in a standard deck of 52 cards

C

=

{

x

+

| x

<

0

}

D

=

{4}

{

x

2

x

− =

8

0

}

}

2. Write the following statement using set builder notation: The set, S, of the square roots of all positive integers less than 20.

S = { x x = y , y ∈ Z 3. Given the sets:
S
=
{ x
x
=
y
,
y
∈ Z
3. Given the sets:
V
= {
m a t h
,
,
,
}
W =
{
1, 4,9,16, 25
}
X
= x
{
x > 10
}
Y
= x
{
x
= y
2 1
,
y
Z
= 2, 4,8,16
{
}

+

, y <

5, y

20

}

}

d) Which sets are finite? Which are infinite?

Finite: V, W, Y, Z.

Infinite: X

e) Which sets are equal? W and Y are equal.

f) Which sets are equivalent? V and Z are equivalent.

W and Y are equivalent.

4. What is a universal set that can be used for constructing the set V of all lower case vowels in the English alphabet? U = {a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z}