A deck of cardsAn illustrative example is the standard 52-card deck. The Playing cards#Anglo-American, standard playing card ranks form a 13-element set. The card suits form a four-element set. The Cartesian product of these sets returns a 52-element set consisting of 52 ordered pairs, which correspond to all 52 possible playing cards. returns a set of the form . returns a set of the form . These two sets are distinct, even disjoint.
A two-dimensional coordinate systemThe main historical example is the Cartesian plane in . In order to represent geometrical shapes in a numerical way, and extract numerical information from shapes' numerical representations, assigned to each point in the plane a pair of real numbers, called its coordinates. Usually, such a pair's first and second components are called its ''x'' and ''y'' coordinates, respectively (see picture). The set of all such pairs (i.e., the Cartesian product , with ℝ denoting the real numbers) is thus assigned to the set of all points in the plane.
Most common implementation (set theory)A formal definition of the Cartesian product from set theory, set-theoretical principles follows from a definition of ordered pair. The most common definition of ordered pairs, Ordered pair#Kuratowski's definition, Kuratowski's definition, is . Under this definition, is an element of , and is a subset of that set, where represents the power set operator. Therefore, the existence of the Cartesian product of any two sets in ZFC follows from the axioms of axiom of pairing, pairing, axiom of union, union, axiom of power set, power set, and axiom schema of specification, specification. Since function (mathematics), functions are usually defined as a special case of relation (mathematics), relations, and relations are usually defined as subsets of the Cartesian product, the definition of the two-set Cartesian product is necessarily prior to most other definitions.
Non-commutativity and non-associativityLet ''A'', ''B'', ''C'', and ''D'' be sets. The Cartesian product is not commutative, : because the ordered pairs are reversed unless at least one of the following conditions is satisfied: * ''A'' is equal to ''B'', or * ''A'' or ''B'' is the empty set. For example: : ''A'' = ; ''B'' = :: ''A'' × ''B'' = × = :: ''B'' × ''A'' = × = : ''A'' = ''B'' = :: ''A'' × ''B'' = ''B'' × ''A'' = × = : ''A'' = ; ''B'' = ∅ :: ''A'' × ''B'' = × ∅ = ∅ :: ''B'' × ''A'' = ∅ × = ∅ Strictly speaking, the Cartesian product is not associative (unless one of the involved sets is empty). : If for example ''A'' = , then .
Intersections, unions, and subsetsThe Cartesian product satisfies the following property with respect to Intersection (set theory), intersections (see middle picture). : In most cases, the above statement is not true if we replace intersection with Union (set theory), union (see rightmost picture). : In fact, we have that: : For the set difference, we also have the following identity: : Here are some rules demonstrating distributivity with other operators (see leftmost picture):Singh, S. (August 27, 2009). ''Cartesian product''. Retrieved from the Connexions Web site: http://cnx.org/content/m15207/1.5/ : : where denotes the absolute complement of ''A''. Other properties related with subsets are: : :
CardinalityThe cardinality of a set is the number of elements of the set. For example, defining two sets: and Both set ''A'' and set ''B'' consist of two elements each. Their Cartesian product, written as , results in a new set which has the following elements: : ''A'' × ''B'' = . where each element of ''A'' is paired with each element of ''B'', and where each pair makes up one element of the output set. The number of values in each element of the resulting set is equal to the number of sets whose Cartesian product is being taken; 2 in this case. The cardinality of the output set is equal to the product of the cardinalities of all the input sets. That is, : , ''A'' × ''B'', = , ''A'', · , ''B'', . In this case, , ''A'' × ''B'', = 4 Similarly : , ''A'' × ''B'' × ''C'', = , ''A'', · , ''B'', · , ''C'', and so on. The set is infinite set, infinite if either ''A'' or ''B'' is infinite, and the other set is not the empty set.
Cartesian products of several sets
n-ary Cartesian productThe Cartesian product can be generalized to the ''n''-ary Cartesian product over ''n'' sets ''X''1, ..., ''Xn'' as the set : of tuple, ''n''-tuples. If tuples are defined as Tuple#Tuples_as_nested_ordered_pairs, nested ordered pairs, it can be identified with . If a tuple is defined as a function on that takes its value at ''i'' to be the ''i''th element of the tuple, then the Cartesian product ''X''1×⋯×''X''''n'' is the set of functions :
n-ary Cartesian powerThe Cartesian square of a set ''X'' is the Cartesian product . An example is the 2-dimensional plane (mathematics), plane where R is the set of real numbers: R2 is the set of all points where ''x'' and ''y'' are real numbers (see the Cartesian coordinate system). The ''n''-ary Cartesian power of a set ''X'', denoted , can be defined as : An example of this is , with R again the set of real numbers, and more generally R''n''. The ''n''-ary Cartesian power of a set ''X'' is isomorphism, isomorphic to the space of functions from an ''n''-element set to ''X''. As a special case, the 0-ary Cartesian power of ''X'' may be taken to be a singleton set, corresponding to the empty function with codomain ''X''.
Infinite Cartesian productsIt is possible to define the Cartesian product of an arbitrary (possibly Infinity, infinite) indexed family of sets. If ''I'' is any index set, and is a family of sets indexed by ''I'', then the Cartesian product of the sets in is defined to be : that is, the set of all functions defined on the index set such that the value of the function at a particular index ''i'' is an element of ''Xi''. Even if each of the ''Xi'' is nonempty, the Cartesian product may be empty if the axiom of choice, which is equivalent to the statement that every such product is nonempty, is not assumed. For each ''j'' in ''I'', the function : defined by is called the ''j''th Projection (mathematics), projection map. Cartesian power is a Cartesian product where all the factors ''Xi'' are the same set ''X''. In this case, : is the set of all functions from ''I'' to ''X'', and is frequently denoted ''XI''. This case is important in the study of cardinal exponentiation. An important special case is when the index set is , the natural numbers: this Cartesian product is the set of all infinite sequences with the ''i''th term in its corresponding set ''Xi''. For example, each element of : can be visualized as a Euclidean vector, vector with countably infinite real number components. This set is frequently denoted , or .
Abbreviated formIf several sets are being multiplied together (e.g., ''X''1, ''X''2, ''X''3, …), then some authorsOsborne, M., and Rubinstein, A., 1994. ''A Course in Game Theory''. MIT Press. choose to abbreviate the Cartesian product as simply ×''X''''i''.
Cartesian product of functionsIf ''f'' is a function from ''A'' to ''B'' and ''g'' is a function from ''X'' to ''Y'', then their Cartesian product is a function from to with : This can be extended to tuples and infinite collections of functions. This is different from the standard Cartesian product of functions considered as sets.
CylinderLet be a set and . Then the ''cylinder'' of with respect to is the Cartesian product of and . Normally, is considered to be the Universe (mathematics), universe of the context and is left away. For example, if is a subset of the natural numbers , then the cylinder of is .
Definitions outside set theory
Category theoryAlthough the Cartesian product is traditionally applied to sets, category theory provides a more general interpretation of the product (category theory), product of mathematical structures. This is distinct from, although related to, the notion of a Cartesian square (category theory), Cartesian square in category theory, which is a generalization of the fiber product. Exponential object, Exponentiation is the right adjoint of the Cartesian product; thus any category with a Cartesian product (and a final object) is a Cartesian closed category.
Graph theoryIn graph theory, the Cartesian product of graphs, Cartesian product of two graphs ''G'' and ''H'' is the graph denoted by , whose vertex (graph theory), vertex set is the (ordinary) Cartesian product and such that two vertices (''u'',''v'') and (''u''′,''v''′) are adjacent in , if and only if and ''v'' is adjacent with ''v''′ in ''H'', ''or'' and ''u'' is adjacent with ''u''′ in ''G''. The Cartesian product of graphs is not a product (category theory), product in the sense of category theory. Instead, the categorical product is known as the tensor product of graphs.
See also* Binary relation * Concatenation#Concatenation of sets of strings, Concatenation of sets of strings * Coproduct * Cross product * Direct product of groups * Empty product * Euclidean space * Exponential object * Finitary relation * Join (SQL)#Cross join, Join (SQL) § Cross join * Total order#Orders on the Cartesian product of totally ordered sets, Orders on the Cartesian product of totally ordered sets * Axiom of power set#Consequences, Axiom of power set (to prove the existence of the Cartesian product) * Product (category theory) * Product topology * Product type * Ultraproduct