# Why is $\emptyset$ CONCAT $S = \emptyset$?, where $S$ is just a set.

Why is $\emptyset$ CONCAT $S = \emptyset$?

The concatenation operation is defined:

If $A$ and $B$ are sets, we define $A\circ B=\{ab:a\in A\text{ and }b\in B\}$

If we concat something to an empty set, wouldn't it just equal to set itself?

If we think of an empty set as an empty string, then empty string + full string = full string?

• Is it a multiplication in the definition of your concatenation? Is the operation of multiplication defined for $S$? – Mickey Jul 3 '17 at 20:26
• If $x \in \emptyset \circ S$, this means there exists $a \in \emptyset$ and $b \in S$ such that $x = ab$. The problem is that there's no elements in $\emptyset$, hence no $a$ and consequently no $x \in \emptyset \circ S$. – Weaam Jul 3 '17 at 20:31
• The emptyset is different than the set containing the emptystring. There exists no choice of $a\in \emptyset$ for which an element $ab\in \emptyset\circ B$ can be written. – JMoravitz Jul 3 '17 at 20:31
• Think of the size of the sets. When $A,B \neq \emptyset$, $|A\circ B| = |A||B|$, for that to be true when $A$ (or $B$) is empty... – Henrik - stop hurting Monica Jul 3 '17 at 20:37
• @Henrik not quite... instead $|A\circ B|\leq |A||B|$. It is possible that a concatenation has multiple representations. The conclusion still follows though. – JMoravitz Jul 3 '17 at 20:39

Quantifiers can be omitted provided it is clear which ones are being used. For instance, a notation such as $\{ab:a\in B\text{ and }b\in B\}$ is universally read as $$\{x\,\mid\, \exists a,\exists b, (a\in A\wedge b\in B\wedge x=ab)\}$$
In the case $A=\emptyset$, every predicate in the form $\exists a, (a\in A\wedge\mathfrak P)$ is automatically false. Therefore no $x$ satisfies the defining condition and $\emptyset\circ B=\emptyset$.
• Not universally; one can also read this as related to the axiom of replacement rather than the axiom of subsets: that $a \in A, b \in B$ specifies the domain of the variables, and $ab$ is the function you are applying to elements of the domain. It amounts to the same end, of course, but it is a different way of thinking about how to get there. – user14972 Jul 3 '17 at 20:43
If $x \in \varnothing \circ S$, then there are $a \in \varnothing$ and $b \in S$ such that $x = ab$.
But this is impossible, since there aren't any $a \in \varnothing$ at all!
$\emptyset \ast A = \emptyset$ while $\{\varepsilon\} \ast A = A$, so one is a sort of $0$ and the other a sort of $1$... for the concatenation operation $\ast$.