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Sets of Real Numbers

Grouping or classifying is a familiar technique in the natural sciences for dealing with the
immense diversity of things in the real world. For instance, in biology, plants and animals are
divided into various phyla, and then into classes, orders, families, genera, and species. In much
the same way, real numbers can be grouped or classified by singling out important features
possessed by some numbers but not by others. By using the idea of aset, classification of
real numbers can be accomplished with clarity and precision.
A set may be thought of as a collection of objects. Most sets considered in this tutorial aresets
of real numbers. Any one of the objects in a set is called an element, or member, of the set.
Sets are denoted either by capital letters such as A, B and C or by braces {}enclosing
symbols for the elements in the set. Thus, if we write {1,2,3,4,5}, we mean the set whose
elements are the numbers 1,2,3,4 and 5. Two sets are said to be equal if they contain
precisely the same elements.
Sets of numbers and relations among such sets can often be visualized by the use of
a number line or coordinate axis. A number line is constructed by fixing a point O called
the origin and another point U called the unit point on a straight line L. The distance between

O and U is called the unit distance and may be 1inch, 1centimeter, or 1 unit of whatever
measure you choose. If the line L is horizontal, it is customary to place U to the right of O.
Each point P on the line L is now assigned a numerical address or coordinate x representing
its signed distance from the origin, measured in terms of the given unit. Thus, x=d,
where d is the distance between O and P; the plus sign or minus sign is used to indicate
whether P is to be right or left of O. Of course, the origin O is assigned the coordinate 0(zero),
and the unit point U is assigned the coordinate 1. On the resulting number scale, each
point P has a corresponding numerical coordinate x and each real number x is the coordinate
of a uniquely determined point P. It is convenient to use an arrowhead on the number line to
indicate the direction in which the numerical coordinates are increasing.
A set of numbers can be illustrated on a number line by shading or coloring the points whose
coordinates are members of the sets.
For instance:

The natural numbers, also called counting numbers or positive integers, are
the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and so on, obtained by adding 1 over and over again. The
set {1,2,3,4,5,} of all natural numbers, denoted by the symbol N.

The integer consist of all the natural numbers, the negatives of the natural numbers,
and zero. The set of all integers {,4,3,2,1,0,1,2,3,4,} denoted by
the symbol Z.

The rational numbers are those numbers that can be written in the form ab,
where a and b are integers and b0. Since b may equal 1, every integer is a
rational number. Other examples of rational numbers are 132, 34 and 227. The set of
all rational numbers is denoted by the symbol Q (which reminds us that
rational numbers are quotients of integers). Rational numbers in decimal form
either terminate or begin to repeat the same pattern indefinitely.

The irrational numbers are the numbers that are not rational.
Its decimal representation is non-terminating and non-repeating.Examples
are 2=1.4142135, 3=1.7320508, and =3.1415926.

The union or combination of rational and irrational numbers are the Real Numbers.
The positive real numbers correspond to point to the right of the origin, and
the negative real numbers correspond to point to the left of the origin. The set of all
real numbers is denoted by the symbol R.

Rational Numbers and Decimals:


By using long division, you can express a rational number as a decimal. For instance, if you
divide 2 by 5, you will obtain 25=0.4, a terminating decimal. Similarly, if you divide 2 by 3,
you will obtain 23=0.66666, a non-terminating, repeating decimal. A repeatingdecimal,
such as 0.66666, is often written as 0.6, where the over bar indicates the digit or
digits that repeat; hence 23=0.6.

Example: 1
Express each rational number as a decimal.
(a) 35
(b) 38
(c) 176
(d) 37
Solution:
(a) 35=0.6
(b) 38=0.375
(c) 176=2.83333=2.83
(d) 37=0.428571428571428571=0.428571
Example:
Express each terminating decimal as a quotient of integers.
(a) 0.7
(b) 0.63
(c) 1.075
Solution:
(a) 0.7=710
(b) 0.63=63100
(c) 1.075=10751000=4340