# Countable Union of Finite Sets is Countable

## Theorem

The following statements are equivalent in $\mathrm{ZF}^-$:

The Axiom of Countable Choice for Finite Sets holds.
The union of any countable set of finite sets is countable.

## Proof

### Axiom of Countable Choice for Finite Sets implies Countable Union Condition for Finite Sets

Suppose that the Axiom of Countable Choice for Finite Sets holds.

Let $\FF$ be a countable set of non-empty finite sets.

Then $\FF$ is either finite or countably infinite.

If $\FF$ is finite, then $\bigcup \FF$ is finite by Finite Union of Finite Sets is Finite, and thus countable.

Suppose instead that $\FF$ is countably infinite.

Then there is a bijection $\mathbf f: \N \to \FF$.

Written in the family notation, this means that $\mathbf f = \family {F_m}_{m \mathop \in \N}$, with the properties that:

$\forall m \in \N: F_m \in \FF$
for all $F \in \FF$ there is exactly one $m \in \N$ such that $F = F_m$

Hence $\ds \bigcup \FF$ is the same thing as $\ds \bigcup \limits_{m \mathop \in \N} F_m$.

Each $F \in \FF$ is finite..

Also, by hypothesis, each $F \in \FF$ is non-empty.

Hence the cardinality $k$ of $F$ is a (strictly) positive integer $k \ge 1$.

By definition of set equivalence, there exists a bijection $\set {0, \ldots, k - 1} \to F$.

Let $\map \BB F$ be the (non-empty) set of all such bijections $\set {0, \ldots, k - 1} \to F$.

Then by Cardinality of Set of Bijections:

$\map \BB F$ is finite.

The family $\family {\map \BB {F_m} }_{m \mathop \in \N}$ is then a countable family of non-empty finite sets.

By the axiom of countable choice for finite sets the family $\family {\map \BB {F_m} }_{m \mathop \in \N}$ has a choice function:

$\mathbf q = \family {q_m}_{m \mathop \in \N}$

Each $q_m$ is thus a bijection $\set {0, \ldots, \card {F_m} - 1} \to F_m$.

Define a mapping $\ds \gamma: \N^2 \to \bigcup_{m \mathop \in \N} F_m$ as:

$\forall m, n \in \N: \map \gamma {m, n} = \begin {cases} \map {q_m} n & : n \le \card {F_m}-1 \\ \map {q_0} 0 & : \text {otherwise} \end {cases}$

Every $\ds x \in \bigcup_{m \mathop \in \N} F_m$ is element of some $F_m \in \FF$.

Thereby $x$ is the image of some integer $n \le \card {F_m} - 1$ under the map $q_m$.

$x$ is then of the form $\map \gamma {m, n}$ for some $\tuple {m, n} \in \N^2$.

Since $x \in \bigcup_{m \mathop \in \N} F_m$ is arbitrary, $\gamma$ is surjective.

Finally, let $\sigma$ be some surjection $\N \to \N^2$.

From Cartesian Product of Countable Sets is Countable, such a map exists.

By Composite of Surjections is Surjection $\gamma \circ \sigma$ is a surjection $\N \to \bigcup \FF$.

Hence $\gamma \circ \sigma$ is countable.

$\Box$

### Countable Union Condition for Finite Sets implies Axiom of Countable Choice for Finite Sets

Suppose that the union of every countable set of finite sets is countable.

Let $S$ be a countable set of non-empty finite sets.

Then $\bigcup S$ is countable.

Thus by Surjection from Natural Numbers iff Countable, there exists a surjection $f: \N \to \bigcup S$.

Define a mapping $g: S \to \bigcup S$ thus:

$\map g x = \map f {\min \set {n \in \N: \map f n \in x} }$

This is a valid definition:

For each $x \in S$, $x$ is non-empty, so it has an element $y$.

Then by the definition of union, $y \in \bigcup S$.

Since $f$ is a surjection, $\set {n \in \N: \map f n = y}$ is non-empty.

Thus $\set {n \in \N: \map f n \in x}$ is non-empty.

Thus by the Well-Ordering Principle, $\set {n \in \N: \map f n \in x}$ has a smallest element.

But by the definition of smallest element:

$\min \set {n \in \N: \map f n \in x} \in \set {n \in \N: \map f n \in x}$

so $\map g x \in x$.

Thus $g$ is a choice function for $S$.

As this holds for every countable set of finite sets, the Axiom of Countable Choice for Finite Sets holds.

$\blacksquare$