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How to Find the Cartesian Product

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Instructor: Kathryn Maloney

Kathryn teaches college math. She holds a master's degree in Learning and Technology.

The Cartesian Product is the result of putting the elements of two different sets together and is written in the form of 'A' x 'B'. Learn how to find the Cartesian Product with examples. Updated: 08/23/2021

A Cartesian Product Vacation

Let's say we have two sets of free meals available on my vacation. Set A = {coffee, tea, milk}. These are my choices of free beverages. Set B = {breakfast, lunch}. These are the free meals with my vacation.

The Cartesian product, written A x B, is putting the elements from set A and elements in set B together. So the Cartesian product A x B = {(coffee, breakfast), (coffee, lunch), (tea, breakfast), (tea, lunch), (milk, breakfast), (milk, lunch)}. The Cartesian product is always written like an ordered pair: (first element, second element).

So I can have coffee with breakfast or lunch, tea with breakfast or lunch, or milk with breakfast or lunch. It is like you distribute set A into set B: coffee distributed to breakfast and lunch, tea distributed to breakfast and lunch, milk distributed to breakfast and lunch. It would give us our answer A x B = {(coffee, breakfast), (coffee, lunch), (tea, breakfast), (tea, lunch), (milk, breakfast), (milk, lunch)}.

If I have the Cartesian product B x A, we would have B x A = {(breakfast, coffee), (breakfast, tea), (breakfast, milk), (lunch, coffee), (lunch, tea), (lunch, milk)}. In this case, I can have breakfast with coffee, breakfast with tea, or breakfast with milk. I can also have lunch with coffee, lunch with tea, or lunch with milk. It is like you distribute set B into set A: breakfast distributed to coffee, tea, and milk; lunch distributed to coffee, tea, and milk. It would give us our answer B x A = {(breakfast, coffee), (breakfast, tea), (breakfast, milk), (lunch, coffee), (lunch, tea), (lunch, milk)}. This is the Cartesian product.

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Coming up next: Venn Diagrams: Subset, Disjoint, Overlap, Intersection & Union

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  • 0:05 A Cartesian Product Vacation
  • 2:23 Example
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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