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Complement of a Set

Let's say that we have a set A that is a subset of some universal set U. The complement of A is
the set of elements of the universal set that are not elements of A. In our example above, the
complement of {-2, -1, 0, 1} is the set containing all the integers that do not satisfy the
inequality.
We can illustrate this definition using a new example. If our universal set is the states of the
United States, then a possible subset is the set of the New England states, which are shown here
in red: A = {Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont}.
The complement of A would then be the set
containing all of the other states that are not
part of New England. This set would contain
all of the states shown in white in the
accompanying map of the United States.
There are various ways to identify a set
complement using notation. For instance, a
prime mark can be used. Sometimes a
superscripted lower case c is used, as shown
here.

The New England States (shown in red)

Complement sets will be written in words, as show here. The name of the original set will have a
line or underscore symbol above it.
The complement of set A, denoted by Ac , is the set of all elements in the
universal set that are not in A.

Examples
Let's start off with a simple example. We will define our universal set as U =
{1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7}, and we will define our subset as E = {1, 3, 4}. The
complement of E is the set of all the elements in U that are not in E.
Therefore, the complement of E is {2, 5, 6, 7}.
Let's now go back to the set of integers as our universal set. Therefore, our
Figure 2
universal set is now U = {, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, }. Let's then call
set G the set of natural numbers: G = {1, 2, 3, 4, }.
The complement of G is the set of integers that are not natural numbers. We can write this
complement of G as {, -3, -2, -1, 0}. We can also show this complement of G using another
form of set notation, as show here.

Figure 3
The curvy e-symbol means 'is an element of,' and the vertical line means 'such that.' Therefore,
we can read this notation as 'the complement of G is all the elements of x of the universal set (the
set of integers), such that x is not an element of G (the natural numbers).'
Example #1.
Take a close look at the figure. d and f are in U, but they are
not in A.
Therefore Ac = {d, f}
Sometimes, instead of looking at a the Venn Diagrams, it
may be easier to write down the elements of both sets
Then, we show in bold the elements that are in U, but not in
A
A = { a, b, c}
U = { a, b, c, d, f}

Example #2.
Let B = {1 orange, 1 pinapple, 1 banana, 1 apple}
Let U = {1 orange, 1 apricot, 1 pinapple, 1 banana, 1 mango, 1 apple, 1 kiwifruit }
Again, we show in bold all elements in U, but not in B
Bc = {1 apricot, 1 mango, 1 kiwifruit}

Example #3.
Find the complement of B in U
B = { 1, 2, 4, 6}
U = {1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 }
Complement of B in U = { 7, 8, 9}

Example #4.
Find the complement of A in U
A = { x / x is a number bigger than 4 and smaller than 8}
U = { x / x is a positive number smaller than 7}
A = { 5, 6, 7} and U = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}
Ac = { 1, 2, 3, 4}
Or Ac = { x / x is a number bigger than 1 and smaller than 5 }
The graph shows the shaded region for the complement of set
A

Example #5
1) If A = { 1, 2, 3, 4} and U = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8} then find A complement ( A).
Solution :
A = { 1, 2, 3, 4} and Universal set = U = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8}
Complement of set A contains the elements present in universal set but not in set A.
Elements are 5, 6, 7, 8.
A complement = A = { 5, 6, 7, 8}.