# Basics of Set Theory Symbols, Operations and Properties Poli Sci ```Basics of Set Theory
Symbols, Operations and Properties
Poli Sci 200B
Our running example for this worksheet is the ever-exciting sample space given by the set of
outcomes for two coin flips. That is
S = {H H , H T, T H , T T }
1. Set membership (applies to an element).
(a) ∈ ‘is an element of.’ E.g. H H ∈ S ‘HH is an element of S’
(b) ∉ ‘is not an element of’ E.g. H H H ∉ S ‘HHH is not an element of S’
2. Set relationships (applies to a set).
(a) ⊂ ‘is contained in’ or ‘is a subset of’1
{H T, T H } ⊂ S
Note the distinction between subset and element {H H } ⊂ S but H H ∈ S
(b) ⊃ ‘contains’ or ‘is a superset of’
{H H , T H , H T } ⊃ {H T, T H }
3. Null set or empty set, ;. Set with no elements.
4. Logical operations
(a) A ∪ B . Union: The union of set A and set B is the set of elements in either A or B.
{H H , H T, T H } ∪ {T H , H T, T T } = S
Extended union:
n
∪
i =1
X i = X 1 ∪ X 2 ∪ ... ∪ X n
(b) A ∩ B . Intersection: The intersection of A and B is the set of elements contained
in both A and B. (note: Some books, Ross in particular, denote A ∩ B as AB )
{H H , H T, T H } ∩ {T H , H T, T T } = {H T, T H }
Extended intersection:
n
∩
i =1
1
X i = X 1 ∩ X 2 ∩ ... ∩ X n
In some contexts distinctions are drawn between weak and strong versions of these relationship operators.
E.g. ‘A ⊂ B ’ would be read as ‘A is a proper subset of B,’ or ‘A is strictly contained in B’ implying that there is
at least one member of B that is not in A. This could then be contrasted with ‘A ⊆ B ’ or ‘A is weakly contained
in B,’ which remains true even when A and B are identical. This distinction is rarely important in probability
theory, so most probability books use only the simpler symbol ⊂ to denote the more general relationship
that remains true when A and B are equal.
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(c) Complement. ∼ A or A c : The complement of set A is everything in the universal
set S (the sample space, in our context) that is not in A.
∼ {H H , H T, T T } = {T H }
Note:
∼ A∪A=S
∼ A∩A=;
5. Algebraic rules
(a) Commutative Laws
A ∪ B ⇔ B ∪ A and A ∩ B ⇔ B ∩ A
(b) Associative Laws
(A ∪ B ) ∪ C ⇔ A ∪ (B ∪ C )
(A ∩ B ) ∩ C ⇔ A ∩ (B ∩ C )
(c) Distributive Laws
(A ∪ B ) ∩ C ⇔ (A ∩ C ) ∪ (B ∩C )
(A ∩ B ) ∪ C ⇔ (A ∪ C ) ∩ (B ∪C )
(d) Demorgan’s Laws
∼ (A ∪ B ) =∼ A ∩ ∼ B
∼ (A ∩ B ) =∼ A ∪ ∼ B
(a) Mutually exclusive sets
They have an empty intersection. If A i ∩ A j = ;, for all i , j , then {A 1 , A 2 , ...A n } are
mutually exclusive.
(b) Partition
A partition divides a set into a set of mutually exclusive and exhaustive subsets.
∪
If A i ∩ A j = ;, for all i , j and ni=1 A i = B , then {A 1 , A 2 , ...A n } are a partition of B.
(c) A ‘divide and conquer’ rule for sets.
Any set can be broken down into the part of it that intersects with another set
and the part that does not. That is,
A = (A ∩ B ) ∪ (A ∩ ∼ B )
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