Definition:Symmetric Difference/Definition 3

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The symmetric difference between two sets $S$ and $T$ is written $S \symdif T$ and is defined as:

$S \symdif T = \paren {S \cap \overline T} \cup \paren {\overline S \cap T}$


$\cap$ denotes set intersection
$\cup$ denotes set union
$\overline S$ denotes the complement of $S$.

Illustration by Venn Diagram

The symmetric difference $S \symdif T$ of the two sets $S$ and $T$ is illustrated in the following Venn diagram by the red area:



There is no standard symbol for symmetric difference. The one used here, and in general on $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$:

$S \symdif T$

is the one used in 1996: Winfried Just and Martin Weese: Discovering Modern Set Theory. I: The Basics.

The following are often found for $S \symdif T$:

$S * T$
$S \oplus T$
$S + T$
$S \mathop \triangle T$

According to 1989: Ephraim J. Borowski and Jonathan M. Borwein: Dictionary of Mathematics: symmetric difference:

$S \mathop \Theta T$
$S \mathop \triangledown T$

are also variants for denoting this concept.

Also see

  • Results about symmetric difference can be found here.