Our reader’s question is: “*There are two sets of symbols for ‘union’ and ‘intersection’. One is the ∪ and the upside down ∩, and the other set is the ∨ and the ∧. What is the relationship between these symbols, which we sometimes think of as ‘U’s and ‘V’s*?”

So let’s mind our Us and Vs, and their upside-down companions, in unions and intersections as well as logical functions.

## The Math Symbols from the Question about Union and Intersection

The “V” symbols in the reader’s question are **∨** and **∧**, which mean “Logical Or” and “Logical And.” The **∧** is a capital Greek Lambda.

The small **^** or “caret” is available on most keyboards as “shift-6”; it symbolizes the exponentiation function. It is important not to confuse **^** with **∧**.

The symbol for “Union of sets” is ‘**∪**‘, while the symbol for “intersection of sets” is ‘∩.’

## Set Theory for Union and Intersection

The approach which relates most closely to the question involves set theory. Let A={a, e, i, o, u, y} and B={a, b, c, d, e, f}.

The **union** of sets ‘A’ and ‘B’ is the set containing the unique elements found in either set ‘A’ or set ‘B’, or both. In other words, “Bring all the elements together but discard duplicates”. A**∪**B={a, b, c, d, e, f, i, o, u, y}.

The **intersection** of sets ‘A’ and ‘B’ is the set containing the unique elements from both set ‘A’ and set ‘B’. In other words, to create an intersection, only select elements found in both original sets, which are the duplicates discarded by the union operation. A∩B={a, e}

With reference to the original question, from the view of set theory, the word “union” relates to the ‘**∪**‘ symbol; and the word “intersection” relates to the ‘∩’ symbol.

Our reader’s question also asked about ‘V’ and upside-down ‘V’, ‘Λ’ or Lambda. These are used in mathematical logic.

Let statement A = “All humans are mammals.” Let B = “All mammals are humans.” Let C = “Some birds can fly under some conditions.” Both ‘A’ and ‘C’ are true statements, but ‘B’ is false.

Let ‘X’ and ‘Y’ represent any possibly true or false statements.

In the math of logic, the statement “X and Y”, or “XΛY”, is true if and only if both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are true.

However, “X or Y”, or “X**∨**Y”, is * false* if and only if both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are false. “X

**∨**Y” is true if either ‘X’ or ‘Y’ is true, which includes the situation where both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are true.

From the example statements, “A**∨**B”, “A**∨**C” and “B**∨**C” are all true. However, “AΛB” and “BΛC” are both false. Only “AΛC” is true because each of statements ‘A’ and ‘C’ are true.

## Programming Computers with “And” and “Or”

Depending on the programming language, “X and Y” might be represented as “X&&Y” rather than “XΛY.” Likewise, “X or Y” might be shown as “X||Y” rather than “X**∨**Y.”

## Exponentiation with the Caret Symbol

The caret symbol, ‘^’, might be mistaken for lambda, ‘Λ’. However, it usually represents the exponentiation operation. For example, 2^3 = 2*2*2 = 8.

When writing on paper, or when the text editor supports superscript, the exponent is shown as a superscript. See the image above.

## Summary of Mathematical Symbols for Intersection and Union, And and Or

In set theory, intersection and union are shown by ‘∩’ and ‘**∪**‘. In mathematical logic, the “and” and “or” operations are shown by ‘Λ’ and ‘V’.

The union of sets, “A**∪**B”, might be seen as taking all the elements of ‘A’ and also the elements of ‘B’; but that would *not* be the “and” (‘Λ’) of mathematical logic.

The intersection of sets, “A∩B” has even less to do with a logical “or” (‘**∨**‘) operation.

Other areas of math may use these symbols in other ways, but these interpretations deal most directly with the reader’s question.

**References**:

Wolfram Mathematica Documentation. *Intersection; Union; And; Or.* (2012). Accessed July 26, 2012.

Wood, Alan. *Symbol font – Unicode alternatives for Greek and special characters in HTML*. (1997-2010). Accessed July 26, 2012.

Vincent Summers says

There are times I wished I’d gotten more into physics or mathematics. Both can be fascinating. But both have their moments I am so-o-o glad I’m not involved with. This topic is one of the latter for me. Every once in a while I say to myself, “Let’s see if I can’t develop a different perspective on *this* topic.” But after looking into it I say, “I was right the first time.” I’m glad there are others out there who love the things I don’t.

mac dsouza says

Nice article eliminated all my confusion.

justine says

given: A={10,11,12}

B={1,3,5,7,9,11}

C={4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11}

ask: (AxB)xC

pls. answer….

karl says

What if A squared u B squared?

sandeep says

can anyone help me on this?

set A = {1 2 3 4 }

set B = {5 6 7 8}

i want c++ logic for A union B

thank you for your help in advance…..:p

Janneth Mercader says

Pls.hurry

Allen Hess says

Mike,

You want to include in your discussion regarding union and intersection truth tables using binary {1,0} representation for and and or. More conducive for computer math and logic.

Allen

The_Algebros says

Excellent article. What if I’m using interval notation with the union symbol “U”. For example, (-2, 0] U [2, 3). If I rewrite this into inequality notation, do I join the two inequality statements with the word “or” or the word “and”. This has stumped me for a while now as I want to use “and”, but I’m not sure if that is correct.