The **complement** $X \setminus S$ of a subset $S \subset X$ of a set $X$ is the set of all elements of $X$ not contained in $S$:

$X \setminus S
\;\coloneqq\;
\big\{
x \in X \;|\;
x \notin S
\big\}
\,.$

(Besides $X \setminus S$, there are many other notations, such as $X - S$, $\bar{S}$, $S^c$, $\neg{S}$, and so forth.)

Notice that $S \cap (X \setminus S) = \empty$, while $S \cup (X \setminus S) = X$ by the principle of excluded middle.

A **complement** of an element $S$ of a lattice is an element $T$ such that $S \wedge T = \bot$ and $S \vee T = \top$. Note that in general, complements need not be unique; for example, in the lattice of vector subspaces of a 2-dimensional vector space over a field $k$, a 1-dimensional subspace will have as many complements as there are elements of $k$. However, in some cases complements will be unique, for example in a distributive lattice, in which case it is denoted $\tilde{S}$ (or $\neg S$, etc.).

If every element has a complement, one speaks of a complemented lattice. Examples are Boolean algebras, and in fact complemented distributive lattices are the same thing as Boolean algebras (in the sense that the category of Boolean algebras is equivalent to the category of complemented distributive lattices).

More generally, the **pseudocomplement** of an element $S$ of a Heyting algebra is given by $\tilde{S} = S \Rightarrow \bot$. This satisfies $S \wedge \tilde{S} = \bot$ but not $S \vee \tilde{S} = \top$ in general. This case includes the complement of a subset even in constructive mathematics.

In another direction, the **complement** of a complemented subobject $S$ of an object $X$ in a coherent category is the unique subobject $\tilde{S}$ such that $S \cap \tilde{S}$ is the initial object and $S \cup \tilde{S} = X$.

The complement of a truth value (seen as a subset of the point) is called its *negation*.

In constructive mathematics, the denial inequality is not a tight apartness relation, and sets in general do not have a tight apartness relation. This means that every set with a tight apartness relation has two notions of inequality, the normal denial inequality $\neq$ and the tight apartness relation $\#$. Thus, there are two notions of complement. There is the usual notion of complement, where given a set $X$, every element in the complement of a subset $S \subseteq X$ is not equal to any element in $S$. Then there are **strict complements**, where given a set $X$ with a tight inequality relation $\#$, every element in the strict complement of a subset $S \subseteq X$ is apart from every element in $S$.

Last revised on April 15, 2023 at 21:49:32. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.