Cardinality of Power Set of Finite Set/Informal Proof

From ProofWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Theorem

Let $S$ be a set such that:

$\card S = n$

where $\card S$ denotes the cardinality of $S$,


Then:

$\card {\powerset S} = 2^n$

where $\powerset S$ denotes the power set of $S$.


Proof

Given an element $x$ of $S$, each subset of $S$ either includes $x$ or does not include $x$ (this follows directly from the definition of a set), which gives us two possibilities.

The same reasoning holds for any element of $S$.

One can intuitively see that this means that there are $\displaystyle \underbrace {2 \times 2 \times \ldots \times 2}_{\card S} = 2^{\card S}$ total possible combinations of elements of $S$.

This is exactly $\card {\powerset S}$.

$\blacksquare$


Note

The formal mathematical backing for the intuitive leap made in this "proof" is non-trivial, so while this it serves as an excellent demonstration of why this result holds true, it does not constitute a fully rigorous proof of this theorem.


Sources