cardinality
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In
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no general consensus abo ...
, the cardinality of a set is a measure of the "number of elements" of the set. For example, the set A = \ contains 3 elements, and therefore A has a cardinality of 3. Beginning in the late 19th century, this concept was generalized to
infinite set In set theory illustrating the intersection (set theory), intersection of two set (mathematics), sets. Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic that studies Set (mathematics), sets, which informally are collections of objects. Although any ...
s, which allows one to distinguish between the different types of infinity, and to perform
arithmetic Arithmetic (from the Ancient Greek, Greek wikt:en:ἀριθμός#Ancient Greek, ἀριθμός ''arithmos'', 'number' and wikt:en:τική#Ancient Greek, τική wikt:en:τέχνη#Ancient Greek, έχνη ''tiké échne', 'art' or 'cra ...
on them. There are two approaches to cardinality: one which compares sets directly using
bijection In , a bijection, bijective function, one-to-one correspondence, or invertible function, is a between the elements of two , where each element of one set is paired with exactly one element of the other set, and each element of the other set is p ...

bijection
s and
injection Injection or injected may refer to: Science and technology * Injection (medicine) An injection (often referred to as a "shot" in US English, a "jab" in UK English, or a "jag" in Scottish English and Scots Language, Scots) is the act of adminis ...

injection
s, and another which uses
cardinal number 150px, Aleph null, the smallest infinite cardinal In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ca ...
s. The cardinality of a set is also called its size, when no confusion with other notions of size is possible. The cardinality of a set A is usually denoted , A, , with a
vertical bar The vertical bar, , is a glyph with various uses in mathematics, computing, and typography. It has many names, often related to particular meanings: Sheffer stroke (in mathematical logic, logic), pipe, vbar, stick, vertical line, bar, verti-bar ...
on each side; this is the same notation as absolute value, and the meaning depends on Ambiguity, context. The cardinality of a set A may alternatively be denoted by n(A), A, \operatorname(A), or \#A.


Comparing sets

While the cardinality of a finite set is just the number of its elements, extending the notion to infinite sets usually starts with defining the notion of comparison of arbitrary sets (some of which are possibly infinite).


Definition 1: =

:Two sets ''A'' and ''B'' have the same cardinality if there exists a
bijection In , a bijection, bijective function, one-to-one correspondence, or invertible function, is a between the elements of two , where each element of one set is paired with exactly one element of the other set, and each element of the other set is p ...

bijection
(a.k.a., one-to-one correspondence) from ''A'' to ''B'', that is, a function (mathematics), function from ''A'' to ''B'' that is both injective and surjective. Such sets are said to be ''equipotent'', ''equipollent'', or ''equinumerous''. This relationship can also be denoted ''A'' ≈ ''B'' or ''A'' ~ ''B''. :For example, the set ''E'' = of non-negative even numbers has the same cardinality as the set N = of natural numbers, since the function ''f''(''n'') = 2''n'' is a bijection from N to ''E'' (see picture).


Definition 2: ≤

:''A'' has cardinality less than or equal to the cardinality of ''B'', if there exists an injective function from ''A'' into ''B''.


Definition 3: <

:''A'' has cardinality strictly less than the cardinality of ''B'', if there is an injective function, but no bijective function, from ''A'' to ''B''. :For example, the set N of all natural numbers has cardinality strictly less than its power set ''P''(N), because ''g''(''n'') = is an injective function from N to ''P''(N), and it can be shown that no function from N to ''P''(N) can be bijective (see picture). By a similar argument, N has cardinality strictly less than the cardinality of the set R of all real numbers. For proofs, see Cantor's diagonal argument or Cantor's first uncountability proof. If ≤ and ≤ , then = (a fact known as Schröder–Bernstein theorem). The axiom of choice is equivalent to the statement that ≤ or ≤ for every ''A'', ''B''.


Cardinal numbers

In the above section, "cardinality" of a set was defined functionally. In other words, it was not defined as a specific object itself. However, such an object can be defined as follows. The relation of having the same cardinality is called equinumerosity, and this is an equivalence relation on the class (set theory), class of all sets. The equivalence class of a set ''A'' under this relation, then, consists of all those sets which have the same cardinality as ''A''. There are two ways to define the "cardinality of a set": #The cardinality of a set ''A'' is defined as its equivalence class under equinumerosity. #A representative set is designated for each equivalence class. The most common choice is the Von Neumann cardinal assignment, initial ordinal in that class. This is usually taken as the definition of
cardinal number 150px, Aleph null, the smallest infinite cardinal In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ca ...
in axiomatic set theory. Assuming the axiom of choice, the cardinalities of the
infinite set In set theory illustrating the intersection (set theory), intersection of two set (mathematics), sets. Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic that studies Set (mathematics), sets, which informally are collections of objects. Although any ...
s are denoted :\aleph_0 < \aleph_1 < \aleph_2 < \ldots . For each Ordinal number, ordinal \alpha, \aleph_ is the least cardinal number greater than \aleph_\alpha. The cardinality of the natural numbers is denoted aleph number, aleph-null (\aleph_0), while the cardinality of the real numbers is denoted by "\mathfrak c" (a lowercase fraktur (script), fraktur script "c"), and is also referred to as the cardinality of the continuum. Cantor showed, using the Cantor's diagonal argument, diagonal argument, that >\aleph_0. We can show that \mathfrak c = 2^, this also being the cardinality of the set of all subsets of the natural numbers. The continuum hypothesis says that \aleph_1 = 2^, i.e. 2^ is the smallest cardinal number bigger than \aleph_0, i.e. there is no set whose cardinality is strictly between that of the integers and that of the real numbers. The continuum hypothesis is independence (mathematical logic), independent of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of choice, ZFC, a standard axiomatization of set theory; that is, it is impossible to prove the continuum hypothesis or its negation from ZFC—provided that ZFC is consistent. For more detail, see Cardinality#Cardinality of the continuum, § Cardinality of the continuum below.


Finite, countable and uncountable sets

If the axiom of choice holds, the trichotomy (mathematics), law of trichotomy holds for cardinality. Thus we can make the following definitions: *Any set ''X'' with cardinality less than that of the natural numbers, or ,  ''X'' , < ,  N , , is said to be a finite set. *Any set ''X'' that has the same cardinality as the set of the natural numbers, or ,  ''X'' , = ,  N , = \aleph_0, is said to be a countably infinite set. *Any set ''X'' with cardinality greater than that of the natural numbers, or ,  ''X'' , > ,  N , , for example ,  R , = \mathfrak c > ,  N , , is said to be uncountable set, uncountable.


Infinite sets

Our intuition gained from finite sets breaks down when dealing with
infinite set In set theory illustrating the intersection (set theory), intersection of two set (mathematics), sets. Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic that studies Set (mathematics), sets, which informally are collections of objects. Although any ...
s. In the late nineteenth century Georg Cantor, Gottlob Frege, Richard Dedekind and others rejected the view that the whole cannot be the same size as the part.
Reprinted in: Here: p.413 bottom
One example of this is Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel. Indeed, Dedekind defined an infinite set as one that can be placed into a one-to-one correspondence with a strict subset (that is, having the same size in Cantor's sense); this notion of infinity is called Dedekind infinite. Cantor introduced the cardinal numbers, and showed—according to his bijection-based definition of size—that some infinite sets are greater than others. The smallest infinite cardinality is that of the natural numbers (\aleph_0).


Cardinality of the continuum

One of Cantor's most important results was that the cardinality of the continuum (\mathfrak) is greater than that of the natural numbers (\aleph_0); that is, there are more real numbers R than natural numbers N. Namely, Cantor showed that \mathfrak = 2^ = \beth_1 (see Beth number#Beth one, Beth one) satisfies: :2^ > \aleph_0 :(see Cantor's diagonal argument or Cantor's first uncountability proof). The continuum hypothesis states that there is no
cardinal number 150px, Aleph null, the smallest infinite cardinal In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ca ...
between the cardinality of the reals and the cardinality of the natural numbers, that is, :2^ = \aleph_1 However, this hypothesis can neither be proved nor disproved within the widely accepted ZFC axiomatic set theory, if ZFC is consistent. Cardinal arithmetic can be used to show not only that the number of points in a real number line is equal to the number of points in any line segment, segment of that line, but that this is equal to the number of points on a plane and, indeed, in any finite-dimensional space. These results are highly counterintuitive, because they imply that there exist proper subsets and proper supersets of an infinite set ''S'' that have the same size as ''S'', although ''S'' contains elements that do not belong to its subsets, and the supersets of ''S'' contain elements that are not included in it. The first of these results is apparent by considering, for instance, the tangent function, which provides a one-to-one correspondence between the Interval (mathematics), interval (−½π, ½π) and R (see also Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel). The second result was first demonstrated by Cantor in 1878, but it became more apparent in 1890, when Giuseppe Peano introduced the space-filling curves, curved lines that twist and turn enough to fill the whole of any square, or cube, or hypercube, or finite-dimensional space. These curves are not a direct proof that a line has the same number of points as a finite-dimensional space, but they can be used to obtain Space-filling curve#Proof that a square and its side contain the same number of points, such a proof. Cantor also showed that sets with cardinality strictly greater than \mathfrak c exist (see his Cantor's diagonal argument#General sets, generalized diagonal argument and Cantor's theorem, theorem). They include, for instance: :* the set of all subsets of R, i.e., the power set of R, written ''P''(R) or 2R :* the set RR of all functions from R to R Both have cardinality :2^\mathfrak = \beth_2 > \mathfrak c :(see Beth number#Beth two, Beth two). The Cardinality of the continuum#Cardinal equalities, cardinal equalities \mathfrak^2 = \mathfrak, \mathfrak c^ = \mathfrak c, and \mathfrak c ^ = 2^ can be demonstrated using cardinal arithmetic: :\mathfrak^2 = \left(2^\right)^2 = 2^ = 2^ = \mathfrak, :\mathfrak c^ = \left(2^\right)^ = 2^ = 2^ = \mathfrak, : \mathfrak c ^ = \left(2^\right)^ = 2^ = 2^.


Examples and properties

* If ''X'' = and ''Y'' = , then ,  ''X'' , = ,  ''Y'' , because is a bijection between the sets ''X'' and ''Y''. The cardinality of each of ''X'' and ''Y'' is 3. * If ,  ''X'' , ≤ ,  ''Y'' , , then there exists ''Z'' such that ,  ''X'' , = ,  ''Z'' , and ''Z'' ⊆ ''Y''. *If ,  ''X'' , ≤ ,  ''Y'' , and ,  ''Y'' , ≤ ,  ''X'' , , then ,  ''X'' , = ,  ''Y'' , . This holds even for infinite cardinals, and is known as Cantor–Bernstein–Schroeder theorem. * Cardinality of the continuum#Sets with cardinality of the continuum, Sets with cardinality of the continuum include the set of all real numbers, the set of all irrational numbers and the interval [0, 1].


Union and intersection

If ''A'' and ''B'' are disjoint sets, then :\left\vert A \cup B \right\vert = \left\vert A \right\vert + \left\vert B \right\vert. From this, one can show that in general, the cardinalities of Union (set theory), unions and Intersection (set theory), intersections are related by the following equation:Applied Abstract Algebra, K.H. Kim, F.W. Roush, Ellis Horwood Series, 1983, (student edition), (library edition) : \left\vert C \cup D \right\vert + \left\vert C \cap D \right\vert = \left\vert C \right\vert + \left\vert D \right\vert.


See also

* Aleph number * Beth number * Cantor's paradox * Cantor's theorem * Countable set * Counting * Ordinality * Pigeonhole principle


References

{{Authority control Cardinal numbers, Basic concepts in infinite set theory