The Info List - Subset

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In mathematics, especially in set theory, a set A is a subset of a set B, or equivalently B is a superset of A, if A is "contained" inside B, that is, all elements of A are also elements of B. A and B may coincide. The relationship of one set being a subset of another is called inclusion or sometimes containment. A is a subset of B may also be expressed as B includes A; or A is included in B. The subset relation defines a partial order on sets. The algebra of subsets forms a Boolean algebra
Boolean algebra
in which the subset relation is called inclusion.


1 Definitions 2 Properties 3 ⊂ and ⊃ symbols 4 Examples 5 Other properties of inclusion 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Definitions[edit] If A and B are sets and every element of A is also an element of B, then:

A is a subset of B, denoted by

A ⊆ B ,

displaystyle Asubseteq B,

or equivalently

B is a superset of A, denoted by

B ⊇ A .

displaystyle Bsupseteq A.

If A is a subset of B, but A is not equal to B (i.e. there exists at least one element of B which is not an element of A), then

A is also a proper (or strict) subset of B; this is written as

A ⊊ B .

displaystyle Asubsetneq B.

or equivalently

B is a proper superset of A; this is written as

B ⊋ A .

displaystyle Bsupsetneq A.

For any set S, the inclusion relation ⊆ is a partial order on the set


( S )

displaystyle mathcal P (S)

of all subsets of S (the power set of S) defined by

A ≤ B

A ⊆ B

displaystyle Aleq Biff Asubseteq B

. We may also partially order


( S )

displaystyle mathcal P (S)

by reverse set inclusion by defining

A ≤ B

B ⊆ A .

displaystyle Aleq Biff Bsubseteq A.

When quantified, A ⊆ B is represented as: ∀x x∈A → x∈B .[1]


A set A is a subset of B if and only if their intersection is equal to A.


A ⊆ B ⇔ A ∩ B = A .

displaystyle Asubseteq BLeftrightarrow Acap B=A.

A set A is a subset of B if and only if their union is equal to B.


A ⊆ B ⇔ A ∪ B = B .

displaystyle Asubseteq BLeftrightarrow Acup B=B.

A finite set A is a subset of B if and only if the cardinality of their intersection is equal to the cardinality of A.


A ⊆ B ⇔

A ∩ B




displaystyle Asubseteq BLeftrightarrow Acap B=A.

⊂ and ⊃ symbols[edit] Some authors use the symbols ⊂ and ⊃ to indicate subset and superset respectively; that is, with the same meaning and instead of the symbols, ⊆ and ⊇.[2] So for example, for these authors, it is true of every set A that A ⊂ A. Other authors prefer to use the symbols ⊂ and ⊃ to indicate proper subset and proper superset instead of ⊊ and ⊋.[3] This usage makes ⊆ and ⊂ analogous to the inequality symbols ≤ and <. For example, if x ≤ y then x may or may not equal y, but if x < y, then x definitely does not equal y, and is less than y. Similarly, using the convention that ⊂ is proper subset, if A ⊆ B, then A may or may not equal B, but if A ⊂ B, then A definitely does not equal B. Examples[edit]

The regular polygons form a subset of the polygons

The set A = 1, 2 is a proper subset of B = 1, 2, 3 , thus both expressions A ⊆ B and A ⊊ B are true. The set D = 1, 2, 3 is a subset of E = 1, 2, 3 , thus D ⊆ E is true, and D ⊊ E is not true (false). Any set is a subset of itself, but not a proper subset. (X ⊆ X is true, and X ⊊ X is false for any set X.) The empty set   , denoted by ∅, is also a subset of any given set X. It is also always a proper subset of any set except itself. The set x: x is a prime number greater than 10 is a proper subset of x: x is an odd number greater than 10 The set of natural numbers is a proper subset of the set of rational numbers; likewise, the set of points in a line segment is a proper subset of the set of points in a line. These are two examples in which both the subset and the whole set are infinite, and the subset has the same cardinality (the concept that corresponds to size, that is, the number of elements, of a finite set) as the whole; such cases can run counter to one's initial intuition. The set of rational numbers is a proper subset of the set of real numbers. In this example, both sets are infinite but the latter set has a larger cardinality (or power) than the former set.

Another example in an Euler diagram:

A is a proper subset of B

C is a subset but not a proper subset of B

Other properties of inclusion[edit]

A ⊆ B and B ⊆ C imply A ⊆ C

Inclusion is the canonical partial order in the sense that every partially ordered set (X,

displaystyle preceq

) is isomorphic to some collection of sets ordered by inclusion. The ordinal numbers are a simple example—if each ordinal n is identified with the set [n] of all ordinals less than or equal to n, then a ≤ b if and only if [a] ⊆ [b]. For the power set


( S )

displaystyle mathcal P (S)

of a set S, the inclusion partial order is (up to an order isomorphism) the Cartesian product
Cartesian product
of k = S (the cardinality of S) copies of the partial order on 0,1 for which 0 < 1. This can be illustrated by enumerating S = s1, s2, …, sk and associating with each subset T ⊆ S (which is to say with each element of 2S) the k-tuple from 0,1 k of which the ith coordinate is 1 if and only if si is a member of T. See also[edit]

Containment order


^ Rosen, Kenneth H. (2012). Discrete Mathematics
and Its Applications (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-07-338309-5.  ^ Rudin, Walter (1987), Real and complex analysis (3rd ed.), New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 6, ISBN 978-0-07-054234-1, MR 0924157  ^ Subsets and Proper Subsets (PDF), retrieved 2012-09-07 

Jech, Thomas (2002). Set Theory. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-44085-2. 

External links[edit]

Weisstein, Eric W. "Subset". MathWorld. 

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