Why don't we use the equivalence sign ≡ in set identities?I am currently studying Discrete...

Sonia Ayers

Sonia Ayers



Why don't we use the equivalence sign in set identities?
I am currently studying Discrete Maths in my 1st year.
Consider the following equivalences : (I'll just use absorption law as example)
In logical expression: p ( p q ) p
In set theory: P ( P Q ) = P
Every article I see uses only the "=" sign for laws of set identities.
I have tried searching for this, but to no avail. I also emailed my professor, in which he replied "the reasoning is simple, as the equivalence sign can only be used for logic expression." I don't quite understand this and would like to have a more intuitive approach.
My thoughts on this: the only possible reason that I could think of is because in set theory, the LHS and RHS are not completely "identical" to each other, as there are different ways of representing the LHS and RHS (for example, I could shade the venn diagrams differently). Whereas, in logical expressions, we are only interested in binary values T/F, as such, they are completely identical because there can only be "one" way of expressing the LHS and RHS.
I am not quite sure whether my trail of thoughts is clear... but I hope someone can share some light on this.

Answer & Explanation

Aryanna Caldwell

Aryanna Caldwell


2022-07-06Added 11 answers

Step 1
By definition, two statements are equivalent exactly when they have the same truth value in all interpretations of their symbols.
Statements p ( p q ) and p have the same truth value in all interpretations of literals p,q. So these statements are (logically) equivalent.
Although their evaluations are equal (in any particular interpretation), the statements are composed of different strings of symbols.
Step 2
By definition, two sets are equivalent exactly when they have the same cardinality; that their is a one-to-one mapping between their elements.
This is much weaker than saying that their elements are identical; which is exactly when they are equal.
Sets P ( P Q ) and P will have exactly the same elements. So these sets are equal.
Jamison Rios

Jamison Rios


2022-07-07Added 6 answers

Step 1
The idea is that when dealing with logical equivalence, two "statements" cannot be equal unless they are exactly the same statement. As mentioned by your instructor, you can indeed have logical equivalences between statements, but it does not make sense for them to be "equal"
Step 2
However, with sets, you do in fact have equality. Recall that sets have elements, and two sets are equal if and only if they contain the exact same set of elements. If two sets are indeed equal, you will be shading the exact same portions of the Venn Diagram. If this does not happen, the sets are NOT equal.
One way that we define two sets to be equal in mathematics is as follows:
Let A and B be sets. We say A = B if:

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