# Sets

A `set`

is an **unordered collection** of **unique** items. It can be defined in two different manners:

Taking all the elements from an iterable such as a string, list or tuple using the built-in

`set()`

constructor:`>>> set('hello') {'e', 'h', 'l', 'o'} >>> set([1, 2, 2, 3]) {1, 2, 3}`

Placing a comma-separated list of elements between curly braces.

`>>> {2, 2, 3, 5, 7, 7, 7, 11} {2, 3, 5, 7, 11}`

As a sidenote, the empty set must be built with `set()`

since Python interprets `{}`

as an empty dictionary.

### Operators and methods

Sets support the already familiar `x in set`

, `len(set)`

, and `for x in set`

. Since sets are unordered, there is no way to record the position of an element and thus indexing or slicing is not possible.

The `set`

type is **mutable** in such a way that its contents can be changed using methods like `add()`

and `remove()`

.

The Python translation of fundamental operations is pretty undisguised. Let’s consider the following sets,

```
s1 = {1, 2, 3, 4}
s2 = {3, 4, 5, 6}
```

and we’ll take a look at some of the most usual. For a complete outlook refer to the Python documentation. In all cases we have an operator and a method available which return a new set and are in essence equivalent.

**Union**: Items appearing in either`s1 | s2 s1.union(s2) # {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}`

**Intersection**: Items appearing in both`s1 & s2 s1.intersection(s2) # {3, 4}`

**Difference**: Items appearing in`s1`

but not in`s2`

`s1 - s2 s1.difference(s2) # {1, 2}`

**Symmetric difference**: Items appearing in only one set`s1 ^ s2 s1.symmetric_difference(s2) # {1, 2, 5, 6}`

**Lliçons.jutge.org**

Víctor Adell

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 2020

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