Set Theory is a branch of mathematics and is a collection of objects known as numbers or elements of the set. Set theory is a vital topic and lays stronger basics for the rest of the Mathematics. You can learn about the axioms that are essential for learning the concepts of mathematics that are built with it. For instance, Element a belongs to Set A can be denoted by a ∈ A and a ∉ A represents the element a doesn’t belong to Set A.

{ 3, 4, 5} is an Example of Set. In this article of Introduction to Set Theory, you will find Representation of Sets in different forms such as Statement Form, Roster Form, and Set Builder Form, Types of Sets, Cardinal Number of a Set, Subsets, Operations on Sets, etc.

Set Definition

Set can be defined as a collection of elements enclosed within curly brackets. In other words, we can describe the Set as a Collection of Distinct Objects or Elements. These Elements of the Set can be organized into smaller sets and they are called the Subsets. Order isn’t that important in Sets and { 1, 2, 4} is the same as { 4,2, 1}.

Examples of Sets

  • Odd Numbers less than 20, i.e., 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19
  • Prime Factors of 15 are 3, 5
  • Types of Triangles depending on Sides: Equilateral, Isosceles, Scalene
  • Top two surgeons in India
  • 10 Famous Engineers of the Society.

Among the Examples listed the first three are well-defined collections of elements whereas the rest aren’t.

Important Sets used in Mathematics

N: Set of all natural numbers = {1, 2, 3, 4, …..}

Q: Set of all rational numbers

R: Set of all real numbers

W: Set of all whole numbers

Z: Set of all integers = {….., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, …..}

Z+: Set of all positive integers

Representation of a Set

Set can be denoted using three common forms. They are given along the following lines by taking enough examples

  • Statement Form
  • Roaster Form or Tabular Form
  • Set Builder Form

Statement Form: In this representation, elements of the set are given with a well-defined description. You can see the following examples for an idea


Consonants of the Alphabet

Set of Natural Numbers less than 20 and more than 5.

Roaster Form or Tabular Form: In Roaster Form, elements of the set are enclosed within a pair of brackets and separated by commas.


N is a set of Natural Numbers less than 7 { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}

Set of Vowels in Alphabet = { a, e, i, o, u}

Set Builder Form: In this representation, Set is given by a Property that the members need to satisfy.

{x: x is an odd number divisible by 3 and less than 10}

{x: x is a whole number less than 5}

Size of a Set

At times, we are curious to know the number of elements in the set. This is called cardinality or size of the set. In general, the Cardinality of the Set A is given by |A| and can be either finite or infinite.

Types of Sets

Sets are classified into many kinds. Some of them Finite Set, Infinite Set,  Subset, Proper Set, Universal Set, Empty Set, Singleton Set, etc.

Finite Set: A Set containing a finite number of elements is called Finite Set. Empty Sets come under the Category of Finite Sets. If at all the Finite Set is Non-Empty then they are called Non- Empty Finite Sets.

Example: A = {x: x is the first month in a year}; Set A will have 31 elements.

Infinite Set: In Contrast to the finite set if the set has infinite elements then it is called Infinite Set.

Example: A = {x : x is an integer}; There are infinite integers. Hence, A is an infinite set.

Power Set: Power Set of A is the set that contains all the subsets of Set A. It is represented as P(A).

Example:  If set A = {-5,7,6}, then power set of A will be:

P(A)={ϕ, {-5}, {7}, {6}, {-5,7}, {7,6}, {6,-5}, {-5,7,6}}

Sub Set: If Set A contains the elements that are in Set B as well then Set A is said to be the Subset of Set B.


If set A = {-5,7,6}, then Sub Set of A will be:

P(A)={ϕ, {-5}, {7}, {6}, {-5,7}, {7,6}, {6,-5}, {-5,7,6}}

Universal Set:

This is the base for all the other sets formed. Based on the Context universal set is decided and it can be either finite or infinite. All the other Sets are Subsets of Universal Set and is given by U.

Example: Set of Natural Numbers is a Universal Set of Integers, Real Numbers.

Empty Set: 

There will be no elements in the set and is represented by the symbol ϕ or {}. The other names of Empty Set are Null Set or Void Set.

Example: S = { x | x ∈ N and 9 < x < 10 } = ∅

Singleton Set:

If a Set contains only one element then it is called a Singleton Set.

Example: A = {x : x is an odd prime number}

Operations on Sets

Consider Two different sets A and B, they are several operations that are frequently used

Union: Union Operation is given by the symbol U. Set A U B denotes the union between Sets A and B. It is read as A union B or Union of A and B. It is defined as the Set that contains all the elements belonging to either of the Sets.

Intersection: Intersection Operation is represented by the symbol ∩. Set A ∩ B is read as A Intersection B or Intersection of A and B. A ∩ B is defined in general as a set that contains all the elements that belong to both A and B.

Complement: Usually, the Complement of Set A is represented as Ac or A or ~A. The Complement of Set A contains all the elements that are not in Set A.

Power Set: The power set is the set of all possible subsets of S. It is denoted by P(S). Remember that Empty Set and the Set itself also comes under the Power Set. The Cardinality of the Power Set is 2n in which n is the number of elements of the set.

Cartesian Product: Consider A and B to be Two Sets. The Cartesian Product of the two sets is given by AxB i.e. the set containing all the ordered pairs (a, b) where a belong to Set A, b belongs to Set B.

Representation of Cartesian Product A × B = {(a, b) | a ∈ A ∧ b ∈ B}.

The cardinality of AxB is N*M where N is the cardinality of A and M is the Cardinality of B. Remember that AxB is not the same as BxA.