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org/wiki/Class_(set_theory)

The paradoxes of naive set theory can be explained in terms of the inconsistent assumption that "all classes are sets".

With a rigorous foundation, these paradoxes instead suggest proofs that certain classes are proper (i.e., that they are

not sets). For example, Russell's paradox suggests a proof that the class of all sets which do not contain themselves is

proper, and the Burali-Forti paradox suggests that the class of all ordinal numbers is proper. The paradoxes do not

arise with classes because there is no notion of classes containing classes. Otherwise, one could, for example, define a

class of all classes that do not contain themselves, which would lead to a Russell paradox for classes. A conglomerate,

on the other hand, can have proper classes as members.

ZF set theory does not formalize the notion of classes, so each formula with classes must be reduced syntactically to a

formula without classes.[1] For example, one can reduce the formula to .

Semantically, in a metalanguage, the classes can be described as equivalence classes of logical formulas: If is a

structure interpreting ZF, then the object language class builder expression is interpreted in by the

collection of all the elements from the domain of on which holds; thus, the class can be described as the set of

all predicates equivalent to (including itself). In particular, one can identify the "class of all sets" with the set of all

predicates equivalent to .

Because classes do not have any formal status in the theory of ZF, the axioms of ZF do not immediately apply to

classes. However, if an inaccessible cardinal is assumed, then the sets of smaller rank form a model of ZF (a

Grothendieck universe), and its subsets can be thought of as "classes".

In ZF, the concept of a function can also be generalised to classes. A class function is not a function in the usual sense,

since it is not a set; it is rather a formula with the property that for any set there is no more than one set

such that the pair satisfies . For example, the class function mapping each set to its successor may be expressed

as the formula . The fact that the ordered pair satisfies may be expressed with the shorthand

notation .

Another approach is taken by the von Neumann–Bernays–Gödel axioms (NBG); classes are the basic objects in this

theory, and a set is then defined to be a class that is an element of some other class. However, the class existence

axioms of NBG are restricted so that they only quantify over sets, rather than over all classes. This causes NBG to be a

conservative extension of ZF.

Morse–Kelley set theory admits proper classes as basic objects, like NBG, but also allows quantification over all proper

classes in its class existence axioms. This causes MK to be strictly stronger than both NBG and ZF.

In other set theories, such as New Foundations or the theory of semisets, the concept of "proper class" still makes sense

(not all classes are sets) but the criterion of sethood is not closed under subsets. For example, any set theory with a

universal set has proper classes which are subclasses of sets.

Every element of a class is a set. A conglomerate, on the other hand, can have proper classes as members.

Notes

1. "abeq2 - Metamath Proof Explorer" (http://us.metamath.org/mpegif/abeq2.html). us.metamath.org. 1993-08-05.

Retrieved 2016-03-09.

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