Lecture 10


Definition The cardinality (number of elements) of \(S\) is at most that of \(T\), \(|S|\leq |T|\), iff there is a one-to-one mapping from \(S\) to \(T\) (or, equivalently, an onto/surjective mapping from \(T\) to \(S\)).

Definition \(|S|=|T|\) iff \(|S|\leq |T|\) and \(|T|\leq |S|\).

Definition The set \(S\) is countable iff \(|S|\leq |\mathbb{N}|\).


  1. Even natural number
  2. \(\mathbb{N}=\{...,-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,...\}\)
  3. \(\mathbb{Q}^+=\{\frac{m}{n}:m,n\in\mathbb{N}\}\)
  4. \(\mathbb{T}=\{M:M\) is a Turing Machine\(\}\)

Theorem The set of all Turing Machines is countable.

Proof We can encode each Turing Machine into an ASCII string, write it in binary, take the mapping that associates \(M\) with the natural number whose binary representation is that encoding binary number (Uniqueness?!).

Uncountable Sets

Definition The set \(S\) is uncountable if it is not countable.

\(S\) is uncountable iff it is impossible to map \(\mathbb{N}\) to \(S\) in a way that covers each element of \(S\).

Theorem The set \(\mathbb{L}\) of all languages over \(\Sigma=\{a,b\}\) is uncountable.

Proof By diagonalization.

Assume by contradiction that \(\mathbb{L}\) is countable, so there is a mapping \(\phi:\mathbb{N}\rightarrow\mathbb{L}\) such that every \(L\in\mathbb{L}\) equals \(\phi(n)\) for some \(n\in\mathbb{N}\)

Every \(L\) in \(\mathbb{L}\) can be represented as an infinite sequence \(s\) over \(\{0,1\}\) where the \(i^{th}\) element of \(s\) indicates wheter the \(i^{th}\) string over \(\{a,b\}\) is in \(L\) or not.

e.g. \(L=\{b,aa,bb\}=01101000...\)

Then \(\phi\) can be written out as


\(n\) \(\phi(n)\)
1 0000...
2 1000...
3 1110...
4 0001...

Consider the language \(L^*\) with corresponding sequence is obtained by flipping the \(i^{th}\) coordinate of the sequence of \(\phi(i)\).

By construction of \(\phi\), there must exist \(n^*\in\mathbb{N}\) such that \(\phi(n^*)=L^*\). Does \(L^*\) include \(n^*\)th string?