I would like to write down an algorithm in mathematical notation. Now, I have some "ordered set" and remove some element $i$ and want to insert some element $k$ at the same position! So, $M \setminus i \cup k $ does not work because it "looks like" we inserted k at the end. It should just be at the position of i.


"Ordered set" that you speak about is a totally ordered set, i. e. a set with a antisymmetric, transitive binary relation $\le$ such that any pair of elements are comparable. Antisymmetric mean that from $a\le b$ and $b\le a$ it follows that $a=b$. Transitive mean that from $a\le b$ and $b\le c$ it follows that $a\le c$ (for example, relation "beats" in the rock-paper-scissors game is not transitive).

Let $(T,\le)$ be a totally ordered set (examples: integers with the "less or equal" relation, English words with the lexicographic order), $M$ be a subset of $T$.

After removing $i\in M$ from $M$ you get $M\setminus\{i\}$ with the total order $\le$ restricted to this set. After adding $k\in T$ into $M$ you get $M\cup \{k\}$ with the total order $\le$ restricted to this set.

So, once you define a totally ordered set $(T,\le)$ you can simply add and remove elements using $\cup$ and $\setminus$without any extra conditions.

  • $\begingroup$ Okay, but what if I want to insert some element not according to some global order but the position is just defined by where I insert it? So, let's say I have (10, 90, 40) and want to insert 50 after 90 = (10, 90, 50, 40)... I just dictate, 50 should be there, how can I write that? $\endgroup$ – IceFire Dec 1 '16 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @IceFire, you can define a total order $\preceq$ such that $10\preceq 90\preceq 50\preceq 40$. $\endgroup$ – Canis Lupus Dec 1 '16 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ This means, I have to write the total order down each time I insert an element? So, if I have 100 elements and want to insert one at position 30, I need to write all of this down? $\endgroup$ – IceFire Dec 1 '16 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ You have to define only the final total. Or you can improve your question adding more specific details about your problem to find a better solution. (But anyway, the solution will be just another way to speak about the total order.) $\endgroup$ – Canis Lupus Dec 1 '16 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I want to insert and remove items due to some optimization algorithm which is nontrivial. I just want to move some element out and insert another one. There is no easy to define order as such but one that results from the algorithm $\endgroup$ – IceFire Dec 1 '16 at 16:00

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