# Cantor theorem

The set $2^A$ of all subsets of a set $A$ is not equipotent to $A$ or to any subset of it. The idea behind the proof of this theorem, due to G. Cantor (1878), is called "Cantor diagonalization process03E2003ExxCantor's diagonalization process" and plays a significant role in set theory (and elsewhere). Cantor's theorem implies that no two of the sets

$$2^A,2^{2^A},2^{2^{2^A}},\dots,$$

are equipotent. In this way one obtains infinitely many distinct cardinal numbers (cf. Cardinal number). Cantor's theorem also implies that the set of all sets does not exist. This means that one must not include among the axioms of set theory the assertion that for each propositional function (or predicate) $\phi(x)$ there exists a set consisting of all elements $x$ satisfying $\phi(x)$ (see , , , ).

B.A. Efimov

Any decreasing sequence of non-empty bounded closed sets of real numbers has a non-empty intersection. This generalizes to compact subsets of a metric space. The property: If the diameters of a decreasing sequence of non-empty closed sets in a metric space $X$ tend to zero then the sets have non-empty intersection, is one of the definitions of completeness of $X$. The property that every totally ordered decreasing family of non-empty closed sets of a topological space $X$ has a non-empty intersection, is one of the definitions of compactness of $X$ (see , , , , ).

Every set of real numbers is the union of the perfect set of its condensation points (cf. Condensation point of a set) and a countable set. This sometimes called the Cantor–Bendixson theorem. It generalizes to the case of a subset of a metric space with a countable basis (Lindelöf theorem, see , , , , , ).

If each of two sets is equipotent to a subset of the other, then these two sets are equipotent. A similar statement holds for two well-ordered sets. This is sometimes called the Cantor–Bernstein theorem or simply Bernstein's theorem (F. Bernshtein gave a correct proof of this theorem, see , , , , , ).

If

$$A_n=a_n\cos nx+b_n\sin nx\to0$$

for all but a finite number of points of interval $[-\pi,\pi]$, then $a_n,b_n\to0$. This generalizes to the case when $A_n\to0$ on a set of positive measure (Lebesgue's theorem), when $A_n\to0$ on a set of the second category (Young's theorem), as well as to other situations. Important corollaries are various theorems on sets of uniqueness of trigonometric series (see , , , , , ).

A continuous function on a closed bounded interval of the real line is uniformly continuous on it. This generalizes to continuous mappings from a compact space to a uniform space. This is sometimes called the Heine–Cantor theorem (see , , , ).

How to Cite This Entry:
Cantor theorem. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL: http://encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=Cantor_theorem&oldid=40749
This article was adapted from an original article by B.A. Efimov, M.I. Voitsekhovskii (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article