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  • A set is a collection of elements, such as:
    • A = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}
  • A set does not have order:
    • {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} is the same as {5, 4, 3, 2, 1}
    • It is convenient to write the elements of a set in consecutive order, but this is only for convenience.
  • Every element in a set is unique, multiples of the same element are ignored:
    • The set {1, 2, 2} has a size of 2, and is the same as {1, 2}
  • It is common for sets to be denoted by a uppercase letter, and for its elements to be wrapped in curly braces:k

    LaTeX: \mathbf{A} = \{ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 \}
  • Sets can also be defined using set builder notation:
    • A rule is used to show which elements are members of the set:
    • The set A defined above would contain all even integers between 0 and 2000.
    • The format of the rule is: (formula: conditions) or (formula| conditions).
    • If it is not specified as a condition, then it is assumed that a is a real number.
Elements in a set
  • Elements in a set are usually represented by a lowercase letter.
  • To demonstrate that an element is part of a set, we use the set membership symbol:

    LaTeX: \mathbf{a} \in \mathbf{A}
  • This can also be done with proper elements:

    LaTeX: \1 \in \{ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 \}
  • To show that an element is not part of a set, we use the 'not member of' symbol:

    LaTeX: 6 \notin \{ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 \}
The Empty Set

The Empty Set (or Null Set) is a set containing no items. It is represented by the empty set symbol:

LaTeX: \varnothing = \{\}
A = frozenset([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

print(1 in A) # prints 'True'
print(6 not in A) # prints 'True'
Ordered Pairs

  • An ordered pair is simply a pair of objects, e.g. (a, b)
  • In an ordered pair, the order matters:
    (\mathbf{a}, \mathbf{b})\neq (\mathbf{b}, \mathbf{a}) 
    \text{ unless } 
    \mathbf{a} = \mathbf{b}
  • This contrasts with the unordered pair, in which (a, b) = (b, a) regardless of the values of a and b.
  • An ordered pair is not a type of set. An ordered pair may contain duplicate elements, and its order is important.
Ordered Pairs are represented by a comma separated pair of elements wrapped in brackets:
a = (1, 2)
LaTeX: \mathbf{a} = (1, 2)
a = (1, 2)


  • A function is mapping between two sets:
  • The first set (denoted by X) is called the domain.
  • The second set (denoted by Y) is called the codomain.
  • Each mapping can be represented as an ordered pair, e.g. (a, 1). The set of all ordered pairs for the entire function is called the graph of the function, and is given the name G.
  • For each element x in X, there exists a unique y in Y.
    • X is called the 'argument', 'input', or 'preimage'
    • y is called the 'value', 'ouput', or 'image'
  • In the above example, not all elements of Y were mapped to from X. The subset of Y that has mappings from X is called the range.
    • This is also called the image of the function, and is denoted:
Functional Notation
  • One common way to denote functions is using the functional notation.

    LaTeX: \mathbf{y} = f(\mathbf{x})
  • This is pronounced 'F of X'
  • It is commonly used in areas of Mathematics which do not have a basis in set theory (such as calculus).
Arrow Notation
  • Another way to denote functions is using arrow notation.

    LaTeX: f\colon \mathbf{X} \to \mathbf Y
  • This is pronounced 'the function f from set X to set Y.
  • It is commonly used in areas of Mathematics which have a basis in set theory.
def f(x):
    graph = {
        'a': 1,
        'b': 3,
        'c': 1

    return graph.get(x)

y = f('a')