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# What are the two ways of describing a set - rule form?

Updated: 12/23/2022

Wiki User

12y ago

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There are two ways of describing, or specifying the members of, a set. One way is by intensional definition, using a rule or semanticdescription:A is the set whose members are the first four positive integers.B is the set of colors of the French flag.

The second way is by extension - that is, listing each member of the set. An extensional definition is denoted by enclosing the list of members in curly brackets:C = {4, 2, 1, 3}D = {blue, white, red}.

Every element of a set must be unique; no two members may be identical. (A multiset is a generalized concept of a set that relaxes this criterion.) All set operations preserve this property. The order in which the elements of a set or multiset are listed is irrelevant (unlike for a sequence or tuple). Combining these two ideas into an example{6, 11} = {11, 6} = {11, 11, 6, 11}

because the extensional specification means merely that each of the elements listed is a member of the set.

For sets with many elements, the enumeration of members can be abbreviated. For instance, the set of the first thousand positive integers may be specified extensionally as:{1, 2, 3, ..., 1000},

where the ellipsis ("...") indicates that the list continues in the obvious way. Ellipses may also be used where sets have infinitely many members. Thus the set of positive even numbers can be written as {2, 4, 6, 8, ... }.

The notation with braces may also be used in an intensional specification of a set. In this usage, the braces have the meaning "the set of all ...". So, E = {playing card suits} is the set whose four members are â™ , â™¦, â™¥, and â™£. A more general form of this is set-builder notation, through which, for instance, the set F of the twenty smallest integers that are four less than perfect squares can be denoted:F = {n2 âˆ’ 4 : nis an integer; and 0 â‰¤ n â‰¤ 19}.

In this notation, the colon (":") means "such that", and the description can be interpreted as "F is the set of all numbers of the form n2 âˆ’ 4, such that n is a whole number in the range from 0 to 19 inclusive." Sometimes the vertical bar ("|") is used instead of the colon.

One often has the choice of specifying a set intensionally or extensionally. In the examples above, for instance, A = C and B = D.

Wiki User

12y ago
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