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UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, JAMAICA

SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICS AND STATISTICS

ENGINEERING MATHEMATICS 1 MAT 1032

ALGEBRA

SET / NUMBER THEORY ( A Brief Review)

Objectives:

At the end of this session, students should be able to:

 Use set-builder notation

 Define the following sets of numbers:

o Natural numbers

o Whole numbers

o Integers

o Rational numbers

o Irrational numbers

o Real numbers

o Complex numbers

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A SET may be defined as a collection of well- defined items or objects. These items are referred
to as ELEMENTS or MEMBERS of the set.  is used to denote ‘ is an element / member of…’.
An EMPTY or NULL SET contains no elements. The null set is denoted by Ø.

A set is FINITE if the number of elements can be counted and INFINITE if there is no end to the
counting. If A represents a particular set then n(A) is used to represent the number of elements in
the set A.

A set is usually described in two main ways:

 By LISTING the elements within curly braces; for example, A    2, 2 .

 SET-BUILDER NOTATION; for example, A   x : x 2  4 . In this case, the members of


the set must satisfy the condition x 2  4 .

A SUBSET is a smaller set within a larger one in which all elements share a common property
that is not shared by those outside the smaller set.  is used to denote ‘ is a proper subset of…’.
If the set A is a subset within a larger set, called the UNIVERSAL set, then the COMPLEMENT
of the set A is defined as the elements of the universal set which are not in A. This may be
represented, using set –builder notation, as follows:

A '   x : x  A, x  U  OR A '   x  U : x  A

The INTERSECTION of two sets A and B is the set of elements common to both A and B.

This may be represented as follows:

A  B   x : x  A  x  B

The UNION of two sets A and B is the set of elements in either or both A as well as B.

This may be represented as follows:

A  B   x : x  A  x  B

The difference of two sets is defined as:

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A  B   x : x  A  x  B

This is equivalent to A  B ' .

The set of REAL NUMBERS consists of the set of rational numbers together with the irrational
numbers. A real number is basically any number that has a decimal representation ( terminating
or not).

The real numbers have the following popular subsets:

 NATURAL or COUNTING NUMBERS, N

For example 1, 2, 3, … . They are the numbers that we were taught to count with at an
early stage. They are sometimes referred to as the positive integers.

 WHOLE NUMBERS, W

These include the natural numbers and zero; that is 0, 1, 2, …

 INTEGERS, Z

These are negative and positive natural numbers and zero.

 RATIONAL NUMBERS, Q

a
A rational number is any number that can be represented as a fraction   , where b is
b
not zero and a and b are integers. a is called the numerator and b is called the
denominator. The decimal representation is repeating or terminating.

 IRRATIONAL NUMBERS

These numbers can be represented as non-repeating and non-terminating decimal


numbers. Examples include 3,  .

Real numbers may be represented by points along a line called a REAL NUMBER LINE.

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Real numbers have the property that they can be ordered; so given any two real numbers, a and
b, one of the following conditions must hold: a  b, a  b, a  b .

SYMBOLS MEANING
ab a is greater than or equal to b
ab a is less than or equal to b
ab a is greater than b
ab a is less than b
ab a is equal to b
ab a is not equal to b

/ Is used for negation

There is another set of numbers called COMPLEX NUMBERS which does not possess the
ordering property. A complex number is comprised of two parts: real and imaginary. A complex
number cannot be represented on a real number line. An ARGAND diagram is used for complex
number representation.

A complex number has the format a  jb ; where a and b are real numbers and j 2  1 .

Complex numbers will be covered in Engineering Mathematics 2 (MAT 1033) so we will not go
into it any further here.

ACTIVITY 1

State TRUE or FALSE:

1) 4   3, 4, 5

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2)  7, 3, 5   7, 3, 5

3) All natural numbers are rational.

4) All integers are natural numbers.

5) All real numbers are irrational numbers.

List the elements of the following sets:

6)  x : x  4  7

7)  x : 2 x  5  8

8) x : x 2

9

Hint: If the universal set is not stated assume that it is the largest possible set of real numbers.

[Solution: 1) T 2)T 3)T 4)F 5) F 6) {11} 7) {6.5} 8) { -3, 3}]

T-A Russell ( 14 / 08 / 2010).