In mathematics, two sets are said to be disjoint if they have no element in common. Equivalently, disjoint sets are sets whose intersection is the empty set, for example, and are disjoint sets, while and are not. This definition of disjoint sets can be extended to any family of sets, a family of sets is pairwise disjoint or mutually disjoint if every two different sets in the family are disjoint. For example, the collection of sets is pairwise disjoint, two sets are said to be almost disjoint sets if their intersection is small in some sense. For instance, two sets whose intersection is a finite set may be said to be almost disjoint. In topology, there are notions of separated sets with more strict conditions than disjointness. For instance, two sets may be considered to be separated when they have disjoint closures or disjoint neighborhoods, similarly, in a metric space, positively separated sets are sets separated by a nonzero distance. Disjointness of two sets, or of a family of sets, may be expressed in terms of their intersections, two sets A and B are disjoint if and only if their intersection A ∩ B is the empty set. It follows from definition that every set is disjoint from the empty set. A family F of sets is pairwise disjoint if, for two sets in the family, their intersection is empty. If the family more than one set, this implies that the intersection of the whole family is also empty. However, a family of one set is pairwise disjoint, regardless of whether that set is empty. Additionally, a family of sets may have an empty intersection without being pairwise disjoint, for instance, the three sets have an empty intersection but are not pairwise disjoint. In fact, there are no two disjoint sets in this collection, also the empty family of sets is pairwise disjoint. A Helly family is a system of sets within which the only subfamilies with empty intersections are the ones that are pairwise disjoint. For instance, the intervals of the real numbers form a Helly family, if a family of closed intervals has an empty intersection and is minimal. A partition of a set X is any collection of mutually disjoint non-empty sets whose union is X, every partition can equivalently be described by an equivalence relation, a binary relation that describes whether two elements belong to the same set in the partition. A disjoint union may mean one of two things, most simply, it may mean the union of sets that are disjoint
Two disjoint sets.
A pairwise disjoint family of sets
Image: Veranschaulichung von disjunkten Mengen
Image: Example of a pairwise disjoint family of sets