Complement of a Set
The complement of a set is the set that includes all the elements of the universal set that are not present in the given set. Let's say A is a set of all coins which is a subset of a universal set that contains all coins and notes, so the complement of set A is a set of notes (which do not includes coins).
In this article we will discuss in detail the complement of a set, its definition along with properties, solved examples, and practice questions.
1.  What is the Complement of a Set? 
2.  Complement of a Set Venn Diagram 
3.  Properties of Complement of a set 
4.  Complement of a Set Examples 
5.  FAQs on Complement of a Set 
What is the Complement of a Set?
If universal set (U) is having a subset A then the complement of set A which is represented as A', is other than the elements of set A which includes the elements of the universal set but not the elements of set A. Here, A' = {x ∈ U : x ∉ A}. In other words, the complement of a set A is the difference between the universal set and set A.
Complement of Set Symbol
The complement of any set is represented as A', B', C' etc. In other words, we can say, if the universal set is (U) and the subset of the universal set (A) is given then the difference of universal set (U) and the subset of the universal set (A) is the complement of the subset, that is A' = U  A.
Example of Complement of a Set
If the universal set is all prime numbers up to 25 and set A = {2, 3, 5} then the complement of set A is other than the elements of A.
 Step 1: Check for the universal set and the set for which you need to find the complement. U = {2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23}, A = {2, 3, 5}.
 Step 2: Subtract, that is (U  A). Here,
U  A = A'
= {2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23}  {2, 3, 5}
= {7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23}
Complement of a Set Venn Diagram
For a better understanding look at the complement of a set Venn diagram given below which clearly shows the complement of set A that is A'. Here A' is not a part of set A and set A is also not a part of A'. A and A' are subsets of U.
Properties of Complement of a set
Following are the properties of the complement of a set that includes complement laws, the law of double complementation, the law of empty set and universal set, and de morgan's law.
Complement Laws
 If A is a subset of the universal set then A' is also a subset of the universal set, therefore the union of A and A' is the universal set, represented as A ∪ A’ = U
 The intersection of Set A and A' provides the empty set “∅”, represented as A ∩ A’ = ∅
For example, If U = {1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 } and A = {4 , 5} and B = {1, 2}
A' = {1 , 2 , 3 } and B' = {3, 4, 5}
A ∪ A’ = U = { 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5}
Also, A ∩ A’ = ∅
Law of Double Complementation
 In this law, the complement of the complemented set is the original set, (A')' = A
 The complement of the set A′, where A′ itself is the complement of A, the double complement of A is thus A itself.
In earlier example, U = {1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5} and A = {4 , 5} then A' = {1 , 2 , 3 }.
The complement of A' = (A')' = {4, 5} which is equal to set A.
Law of Empty set and Universal Set
 The complement of the universal set is an empty set or null set (∅) and the complement of the empty set is the universal set.
 Since the universal set contains all elements and the empty set contains no elements, therefore, their complement is just opposite to each other, represented as ∅' = U And U' = ∅
In the above given example set U = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} which contains all elements of set A and set B as universal set contains all elements therefore U' = ∅ (empty set) and ∅' = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}.
De Morgan’s law
Here are the De Morgan's laws that talk about the complement.
 The complement of the union of two sets is equal to the complement of sets and their intersection. (A U B)’ = A’ ∩ B’ (De Morgan’s Law of Union).
 The complement of the intersection of two sets is equal to the complement of sets and their union. (A ∩ B)’ = A’ U B’ (De Morgan’s Law of Intersection).
Taking above example for proving De Morgan's law, U = {1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 } and A = {4 , 5} and B = {1, 2}. Thus,
De Morgan’s Law of Union: (A U B) = {1, 2, 4, 5} and (A U B)' = {3} and thus, A' ∩ B' = {3} as A' = {1 , 2 , 3 } and B' = {3, 4, 5}, so (A U B)’ = A’ ∩ B’ = {3}.
De Morgan’s Law of Intersection: (A ∩ B) = ∅ (empty), (A ∩ B)' = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} and thus, A' U B' = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} as A' = {1 , 2 , 3 } and B' = {3, 4, 5}, so (A ∩ B)’ = A' U B'
Important Notes on Complement of a Set:
 The complement of the universal set is the empty set or null set.
 The intersection set contains the elements that both sets have in common.
 The union of two sets is a set that contains all the elements that are in A or B or in both.
☛ Related Topics:
Check out these interesting articles to know more about the complement of a set and its related topics.
Complement of a Set Examples

Example 1: If B = { p  p is a multiple of 3, p ∈ N }. Find B' (p ∈ N in the bracket indicates N is the universal set) where N is the set of natural numbers.
Solution:
It is given that
 N = U = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11, … }.
 B = { p  p is a multiple of 3, p ∈ N } ⇒ B = { 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, … }.
Therefore, the complement of the set B is,
B' = U  B = { 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10,11, … }
Answer: { 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10,11, … }

Example 2: If U is the universal set containing 50 students of class X of a coeducational school and A be the set of all girls and it contains 25 girls. Find the number of elements of the complement of a set of girls?
Solution:
If set A contains all girls then the complement of set A is set of all boys. The difference between the universal set and set of all girls is the complement of a set of girls.
Thus, n(A') = 50  25 = 25. Therefore, the complement of the set contains 25 girls.Answer: 25

Example 3: Find the complement of set A and set B also show (A U B)' = A' ∩ B', where U = {11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16}, A = {12, 13} and B = {13, 14, 15}?
Solution:
Complement of set A or A' contains elements other than elements of set A .
Therefore, A' = {11, 14, 15, 16}.
Similarly B' = {11, 12, 16}.
Now we will find A' ∩ B' which includes the elements which are in contained A' as well as B'.
So A' ∩ B' = {11, 16} ... (1)
Now, A U B = {12, 13, 14, 15}.
So the complement of A U B or (A U B)' = {11, 16}.
Therefore, (A U B)' = A' ∩ B' = {11, 16} ... (2)
From (1) and (2), (A U B)' = A' ∩ B'
Answer: Hence proved.
FAQs on Complement of a Set
What is the Complement of a Set?
The complement of set A is defined as a set that contains the elements present in the universal set but not in set A. For example, Set U = {2,4,6,8,10,12} and set A = {4,6,8}, then the complement of set A, A′ = {2,10,12}.
How To Find the Complement of a Set?
If the universal set(U) is given and another set A, which contains some elements of the universal set is given then we can find the complement of the set A, represent as A'. The elements that are not part of set A but part of set U will be the elements of A', which is the complement of set A. Here, A' = {x ∈ U: x ∉ A}.
What is the Complement of a Set A if Universal Set is the Set of Letters in the English Alphabet and Set A is the Set of Consonants in the English Alphabets?
If the universal set is all alphabets and set A contains all the consonants then the complement of set A, that is A' will be the set of vowels of the English alphabets.
What is the Complement of the Intersection of Sets?
The complement of the intersection of sets is the set of elements that are included in the universal set U but not included in the intersection set. For example, suppose set U = set of natural numbers less than 10 and elements of set X = {1, 2, 5, 6} and set Y = {1, 3, 4, 5, 6}. Thus,intersection of set X and Y or X ∩ Y = {1, 5, 6} and complement of (X ∩ Y) or (X ∩ Y)' = {2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9}.
One can easily prove that the complement of the intersection of two sets is equal to the union of the complement of each of the sets.
What is the Complement of an Empty Set or Null Set?
Empty set means there are no elements in the set, so the complement of an empty set or a null set is the universal set containing all the elements.
What is the Complement of the Universal Set?
The universal set contains all the possible elements whereas the null set contains no elements at all. Thus, a complement of the universal set is the null set.
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