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Question about proof of associative law for sets

  1. Mar 21, 2009 #1

    Trying to go through Tom Apostle text on Calculus. There is an exercise about proving the associative law for sets:

    So, (A U B) U C = A U (B U C)

    So, if we assume x to be an element in set in left hand side, than we can say x belongs at least to either A, B or C which in turn means that x is also an element in set in right hand side and then we can say that the LHS and RHS are subsets of each other...

    Is this a valid proof? I am never sure with these. It is really tricky to prove such ideas that we take for granted in every day life!

    Anyway, I would be really grateful for any help you can give this old man.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2009 #2
    Hi pamparana,

    What it comes down to is that "or" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_disjunction" [Broken] for
    ((p or q) or r)
    (p or (q or r))
    are the same.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Mar 21, 2009 #3


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    Homework Helper

    You are essentially correct. (The other post is correct too, but is really a round-a-bout way to assume exactly what you want to prove). You might see the proof of your statement organized formally this way.

    x \in (A \cup B) \cup C & \leftrightarrow x \in (A \cup B) \text{ or } x \in C \\
    & \leftrightarrow x \in A \text{ or } x \in B \text{ or } x \in C \\
    & \leftrightarrow x \in A \text{ or } x \in (B \cup C) \\
    & \leftrightarrow x \in A \cup (B \cup C)

    I've use [tex] \leftrightarrow [/tex] to represent the phrase "if and only if" (I couldn't get the usual double arrow to work, sorry).
    Hope this helps.
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