Questions tagged [cardinals]

This tag is for questions about cardinals and related topics such as cardinal arithmetics, regular cardinals and cofinality. Do not confuse with [large-cardinals] which is a technical concept about strong axioms of infinity.

Cardinality is a notion of size for sets, usually denoted by $|A|$ as the "cardinality of $A$". With finite sets the cardinality is simply the number of elements which are members of a set.

Dealing with infinite sets we can measure them in different ways. Cardinal numbers are very natural in the sense that they do not require extra structure (such as relations and operations defined on the set to be preserved).

In formal terms, suppose $f\colon A\to B$ (i.e. $f$ is a function whose domain is $A$ and its range is a subset of $B$).

We say that $f$ is injective if $f(a)=f(b)$ implies $a=b$; we say $f$ is surjective if its range is all $B$, namely for any $b\in B$ there is $a\in A$ such that $f(a)=b$.

If $f$ is both surjective and injective we say that $f$ is a bijection from $A$ to $B$. The inverse of a bijection is also a bijection.

Now we can define an equivalence relation on sets, $A\sim B$ if and only if there is some $f\colon A\to B$ which is a bijection.

Assuming the Axiom of Choice, we have that every set can be well ordered, and therefore there is a least ordinal which is equivalent to $A$, so we can assign it as a canonical representative for the equivalence class, usually denoted by $\aleph_\alpha$ where $\alpha$ is an ordinal, or as general Greek letters such as $\kappa,\lambda$.

Before defining the $\aleph$ numbers we need to define initial ordinals. Let $\alpha$ be an ordinal, if there is no $\beta<\alpha$ and $f\colon\alpha\to\beta$ which is a bijection, then $\alpha$ is called an initial ordinal.

The $\aleph$ numbers are defined by transfinite induction as:

  1. $\aleph_0 = |\omega| = \omega$ (note that $\omega$ is an initial ordinal),
  2. $\aleph_{\alpha+1} = \aleph_\alpha^+$ (where the $\cdot^+$ means the smallest initial ordinal above the one defined for $\aleph_\alpha$)
  3. If $\beta$ is a limit ordinal, then $\displaystyle\aleph_\beta = \bigcup_{\delta<\beta}\aleph_\delta$ (It is easy to verify that the union of initial ordinals is an initial ordinal).

The confinality of an $\aleph$ number is the minimal cardinality of a set which is unbounded in the initial ordinal matching the $\aleph$ number.

A cardinal is called regular if its cofinality is itself, otherwise it is called singular.

Example: $\aleph_0$ is regular, because for a set to be unbounded below $\omega$ it cannot be finite.

$\aleph_1$ is also regular, every ordinal below $\omega_1$ is countable, and the union of countably many countable ordinals is just countable - which is still below $\aleph_1$.

Example: $\aleph_\omega$ is singular, recall $\displaystyle\aleph_\omega=\bigcup_{n<\omega}\aleph_n$. Therefore the set $\{\omega_n\mid n<\omega\}$ (the collection of initial ordinals whose cardinality is less than $\aleph_\omega$) is unbounded, and its cardinality is merely countable.

The question whether or not there exists $\aleph_\delta$ such that $\delta$ is a limit ordinal, but $\aleph_\delta$ is regular is unprovable in ZFC. It is known that it is consistent that there are none, but unknown that it is inconsistent that there are. Cardinals with this property are called Large cardinals and are used for consistency proofs.


In the absence of choice we can no longer have canonical representatives for the equivalence classes, and things become tricky. The class of cardinals can still be defined, however in a slightly different way - usually Scott's trick.

However, to show how things can break down it is consistent with ZF that there is no choice function on the equivalence classes (i.e. you cannot have canonical representatives).

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What is the cofinality of $2^{\aleph_\omega}$

There is a similar question in this site but I am not satisfied with the answer, which is basically the same as the proof in the mentioned textbook. The book(Karel Hrbacek&Thomas Jech, Introduction to Set Theory 3e, p165) states a lemma: For every…
gp120
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Cardinality of all subsets of cardinality $\aleph_0$ or $\aleph$ in $\mathbb{R}$

What is the cardinality of all subsets of cardinality $\aleph_0$ in $\mathbb{R}$? And of all subsets of cardinality $\aleph$ in $\mathbb{R}$? Since both are subsets of $P(\mathbb{R})$ , I conclude both have cardinality less or equal to…
Whyka
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What is the cardinality of $P(\mathbb{R})\setminus P(\mathbb{Q})$?

I'm a beginner in elementary set theory and I'm looking for a simple way (I can use facts from cardinal arithmetic) to show that: $|P(\mathbb{R})\setminus P(\mathbb{Q})|=|P(\mathbb{R})|$ I would like to see several approaches for this. thank you.
dorsh605
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Is the powerset of the reals any "more uncountable" (in some sense) than the reals are?

I know that $\mathbb{N}$ is countable and has cardinality $\aleph_0$, and that $\mathbb{R}$ has cardinality $2^{\aleph_0} = \text{C}$ and is uncountable. Are sets with cardinalities greater than $\text{C}$ (like $2^{\mathbb{R}}$, for instance) "more…
Soham Chowdhury
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Saturated models and $\kappa=\kappa^{<\kappa}$

Do not assume GCH. Can you characterize the cardinals $\kappa$ such that every theory $T$ with an infinite model has a saturated model of cardinality $\kappa$? I guess these are the cardinals such that $\kappa=\kappa^{<\kappa}$. (Correct?) Do these…
Primo Petri
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How to prove that $C\cdot\aleph_0=C$

How can I prove that $C\cdot\aleph_0=C$? I tried this: Given that $k\cdot 1=k$ and $C\cdot C=C$ if $C\cdot C = C \wedge C\cdot 1 = C \wedge C>|\mathbb N|>1$ then $C\cdot |\mathbb N|= C$ c is the size of the continuum and k is any cardinal. Is this…
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Can every infinite cardinal $\mu$ such that $\kappa\leq\mu\leq2^\kappa$ be expressed as $\kappa^\lambda$?

Let $\kappa$ be an infinite cardinal. Can I reach every intermediate cardinal $\mu$ with $\kappa \le \mu \le 2^\kappa$ as some power $\kappa^\lambda$? If not, is there another construction that allows me to reach every cardinal between $\kappa$ and…
James
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The number of subsets of cardinality less than $\kappa$ of a cardinal $\kappa$ is $\kappa$

Let $L=\bigcup_{\alpha \in Ord} L_\alpha$ be Godel's constructible universe and thus $L \models GCH$. Let $\kappa$ be an infinite cardinal and $S:=\{A \subseteq \kappa : \#A < \kappa \}$. Is it true that $L \models \#S=\kappa$? ($\#S \ge \kappa$…
Dávid Natingga
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Is this proof that $\kappa^{<\kappa}=\kappa$, when $2^{<\kappa}=\kappa$, correct?

Let $\kappa$ be a cardinal number. I want to show that if $\kappa$ is regular and if $2^{<\kappa} = \kappa$ then $\kappa^{<\kappa}= \kappa$. Here is what I got so far: $$ \begin{align}\kappa^{<\kappa} ~&=~ \left| \bigcup\limits_{\alpha <…
M.G
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equality of Cardinality of $\mathbb{R}$ and $\mathbb{R^2}$

There was a question in our exam which wanted us to prove that $\mathbb{R}$ and $\mathbb{R^2}$ both have same Cardinality. My approach to prove this problem was to try to make a bijection between $\mathbb{R}$ and $\mathbb{R^2}$. You can see my proof…
F.K
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Cardinality of Sets and injections

Let A,B,C,D sets. if |A| $\le$|B| and |B| < |C|, show that |A| < |C| Proof: Case1: suppose |A| < |B| then there exists injection f: A$\to$B and |B| < |C| then there exists injection g: B$\to$C let h(x) = f(g(x)) = h:A$\to$C h(x) is an injection…
user3400223
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What properties does $A\to B$ satisfy under 1-1 correspondence?

A 1-1 correspondence between two sets $A$ and $B$ is a function $f\colon A \to B$ satisfying what properties? I do know that we say that two sets $A$ and $B$ are equivalent, and we write $A \sim B$ iff they can be put into 1-1 correspondence. This…
anaon12
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Limit Ordinals as Infinite Ordinals and other questions

I am studying set theory and I am confused in the following: Are limit ordinals the same as infinite ordinals? I would say yes since the least non-zero limit ordinal is $\omega$. Infinite limit ordinals are the same as limit ordinals? Yes, by…
Leonhard Leibniz
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Is $\operatorname{card}(I)=\operatorname{card}(D)$

When I was answering number of integrable functions is greater than number of differentiable functions I got to wonder if the inequality was strict. So with $\mathcal I$ being the set of integrable functions $\mathbb R\to\mathbb R$ and $\mathcal D$…
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Proof regarding partitions of an infinite cardinal $\kappa$.

I am working on a proof regarding partitions (Jech 9.7), and I am unfortunately stuck on the last step. I will give all the details up to this point, but I don't think they are all required. Let $\kappa$ be an infinite cardinal, and let $\{ A, B\}…
Paul Slevin
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