# Definition:Countable Set/Definition 3

## Definition

Let $S$ be a set.

$S$ is **countable** if and only if there exists a bijection between $S$ and a subset of $\N$.

That is, if it can be shown that it is possible to exhaustively count its elements.

## Also defined as

Some sources define a countable set to be what is defined on $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$ as a countably infinite set.

That is, they use **countable** to describe a set which has *exactly the same* cardinality as $\N$.

Thus under this criterion $X$ is said to be countable if and only if there exists a bijection from $X$ to $\N$, that is, if and only if $X$ is equivalent to $\N$.

However, as the very concept of the term **countable** implies that a set **can be counted**, which, plainly, a finite set can be, it is suggested that this interpretation may be counter-intuitive.

Hence, on $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$, the term countable set will be taken in the sense as to include the concept of finite set, and countably infinite will mean a countable set which is specifically *not* finite.

## Also known as

When the terms **denumerable** and **enumerable** are encountered, they generally mean the same as countably infinite.

Some modern pedagogues (for example Vi Hart and James Grime) use the term **listable**, but this has yet to catch on.

## Also see

## Sources

- 1986: Geoffrey Grimmett and Dominic Welsh:
*Probability: An Introduction*... (previous) ... (next): $1$: Events and probabilities: $1.3$: Probabilities: Footnote - 1998: David Nelson:
*The Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics*(2nd ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): Entry:**countable (denumerable; enumerable)** - 2008: David Nelson:
*The Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics*(4th ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): Entry:**countable (denumerable; enumerable)** - 2014: Christopher Clapham and James Nicholson:
*The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics*(5th ed.) ... (previous) ... (next): Entry:**countable**