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# Cardinality_1

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02/22/2014

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The Size of a Set – 1
Cardinality, Finite Sets
Amber HabibDepartment of MathematicsShiv Nadar University
Abstract
Notes for the Precalculus course taught to 1st year students of the B.S.Mathematics program.
1 Cardinality
Exercise 1.1
Consider the following sets. Which has more elements?
A
=
{♣
,
,
,
♠}
B
=
{∀
,
,
¬
, , 
}
Chances are that you solved this exercise by counting and reasoned that
A
has four elements while
B
has ﬁve elements, and therefore
B
has more elementsthan
A
. However, the problem can be solved without counting. We simply pairoﬀ elements one by one, for example matching
with
,
with
,
with
¬
,and
with
. Finding that
A
has been emptied but
B
has not (in our example,
still remains) we can conclude that
B
has more elements.In fact, it has been recorded that children who have not yet made the con-nection between numbers and measurement can still compare sizes of small col-lections in this manner. A child asked to distribute toﬀees in equal amountsamong two dolls will take two toﬀees at a time, give one to each doll, and repeatuntil the toﬀees are exhausted.
1
What we are working up to is the idea that for talking about the size of setsthe fundamental step is to deﬁne what we mean by two sets having the samesize, and we can do this without involving numbers.
1
For example, see
Paper 2: Understanding Whole Numbers
of the report
Key Understand-ings in Mathematics Learning
commissioned by the Nuﬃeld Foundation, 2009. URL: http://www.nuﬃeldfoundation.org/key-understandings-mathematics-learning.
1

Deﬁnition 1.2
Two sets are said to have the same
cardinality
if there is a bijection from one to the other. We write
|
A
|
=
|
B
|
to indicate that sets
A
and
B
have the same cardinality.
We have introduced the word ‘cardinality’ as a substitute for ‘size’ or ‘numberof elements’ partly as a reminder that the fundamental idea does not involvecounting as such. A bijection is the formal equivalent of matching elementsone-by-one.
Example 1.3
Consider the sets
A
=
{♣
,
,
,
♠}
=
{∀
,
,
¬
,
}
We can deﬁne a bijection
:
A
by
(
) =
,
(
) =
,
(
) =
¬
,
(
) =
Therefore
A
and
have the same cardinality:
|
A
|
=
|
|
.
2
Example 1.4
Let
A
be a non-empty set. It does not have the same cardinalityas the empty set
. For, let
:
A
be a bijection and take any element
a
A
.Then
(
a
)
.
2
These examples illustrate two aspects. To show two sets have the samecardinality we have to exhibit a bijection between them, typically by constructingone. To show they do not have the same cardinality, denoted
|
A
|
=
|
B
|
, wehave to show the impossibility of having a bijection and this is usually done bycontradiction.
Exercise 1.5
Show that1.
|
A
|
=
|
A
|
if
A
is non-empty.2. If
|
A
|
=
|
B
|
and
|
B
|
=
|
|
then
|
A
|
=
|
|
It should be kept in mind that we have not yet deﬁned “cardinality of a set”as a stand-alone concept. We have only set up a deﬁnition of what we wouldmean by having the “same cardinality”! In other words, we have deﬁned whatwe mean by writing
|
A
|
=
|
B
|
but we have not given a speciﬁc meaning to
|
A
|
itself. This is why
|
A
|
=
|
A
|
is not a complete triviality. In order to justify thisstatement we need to produce a bijection
A
A
.With our current notion of a function as a rule for associating elements of one set to those of another, we cannot conceive of a function with domain
, anddo not automatically get
|∅|
=
|∅|
. We will therefore adopt this as a convention.2

It can happen that a proper subset of a set can have the same cardinality!For example, deﬁne
:
N
N
\{
1
}
by
(
n
) =
n
+1. Then
is easily seen to bea bijection and so
|
N
|
=
|
N
\{
1
}|
. The following example is even more striking –a subset we would normally think of as having half the size of the original, turnsout to have the same cardinality.
Example 1.6
Let 2
N
denote the set of even natural numbers. Then
:
N
2
N
deﬁned by
(
n
) = 2
n
is a bijection. Hence
|
N
|
=
|
2
N
|
.
2
Deﬁnition 1.7
Let
n
N
. Deﬁne
n
=
{
1
,...,n
}
. Also deﬁne
0
=
.
Exercise 1.8
Show that
|
m
×
n
|
=
|
mn
|
.
Example 1.9
We shall prove that
|
n
|
=
|
N
|
for any
n
= 0
,
1
,
2
,...
. For sup-pose
:
n
N
is any function. Let
m
= 1 +
ni
=1
(
i
). Then
m >
(
i
) foreach
i
and so
m
(
n
). Therefore
is not surjective.
2
Theorem 1.10
Let
A
B
. If
|
A
|
=
|
|
then
|
B
|
=
|
|
.
Proof:
Let
:
A
be a bijection. Deﬁne
1
=
\
B
and, inductively,
n
+1
=
(
n
). Let
=
n
n
. Deﬁne
g
:
B
by
g
(
x
) =
(
x
)
x
x x
We ﬁrst check the codomain of
g
is indeed
B
. If
x
, then
g
(
x
) =
(
x
)
A
B
. If
x
then
x
1
implies
g
(
x
) =
x
B
.Next we check that
g
is an injection. The only interesting case is when
g
(
x
) =
g
(
y
) with
x
,
y
. But then we have
y
=
(
x
)
(
)
g
is a surjection. Let
b
B
. First, suppose
b
.Then
b
1
and so
b
n
+1
=
(
n
) with
n
1. Let
x
n
with
(
x
) =
b
.Then
g
(
x
) =
(
x
) =
b
. Finally, let
b
. The
g
(
b
) =
b
.
2
Once we have ﬁxed the idea of ‘same size’ we can go farther and talk of ‘larger’ or ‘smaller’.
Deﬁnition 1.11
We say that the cardinality of a non-empty set
A
is not morethan that of
B
if there is an injection
:
A
B
. In this case we write
|
A
| |
B
|
.We also deﬁne
|∅| ≤ |
A
|
for every set
A
.
The idea is that the injection succeeds in matching every element of
A
withsome element of
B
and thus shows that
B
has at least as many elements as
A
.
Exercise 1.12
Show that
|
A
| |
B
|
if and only if
B
has a subset with the samecardinality as
A
.3