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I am trying to prove that the set $(0,1)$ is uncountable from "A First Course in Analysis by Yau". I have a question about a particular step.

In the text, the result is proved by contradiction. It is supposed that the set $(0,1)$ is countable, which it is then written that there must exist a bijection $f:\mathbb{N}\rightarrow (0,1)$ (which is ultimately contradicted).

My question is, why does the bijective map have to exist? If we suppose that $(0,1)$ is countable, shouldn't there exist an injective map $g:(0,1)\rightarrow\mathbb{N}$?

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, if $f$ is a bijection, what is $f^{-1}$? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 5 '20 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila meaning what is the map from $(0,1)\rightarrow\mathbb{N}$? $\endgroup$ – Steven Jun 5 '20 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ Meaning what kind of object is that? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 5 '20 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila The preimage of $f$? $\endgroup$ – Steven Jun 5 '20 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ Be careful as to whether "Countable" means "countably infinite" or "countable but possibly finite". If you mean "countably infinite", then yes, a bijection must exist between $\mathbb N$ and $X$. $\endgroup$ – Prime Mover Jun 5 '20 at 13:33
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There is a 1-1 correspondence between $A$ and $B$, if and only if a) there is an injection from $A$ to $B$ and b) at the same time there is an injection from $B$ to $A$.

So, if you can demonstrate that injection from $(0,1)$ to $\mathbb N$, then yes, you have demonstrated that $(0,1)$ is countable -- but more, you have proved it to be '''countably infinite'''.

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  • $\begingroup$ So where does the bijection fit in? $\endgroup$ – Steven Jun 5 '20 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ It's a convenient short way to specify the definition of countability: there's an injection in both directions. So if you want to disprove a bijection, you just need to show that there cannot be an injection in one or other of the two directions. $\endgroup$ – Prime Mover Jun 5 '20 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ If there is an injection from $A$ to $\mathbb N$, then that proves that the cardinality of $A$ is at most countably infinite. If there is an injection from $\mathbb N$ to $A$, that proves that $A$ is at least countably infinite. So if there is an injection both ways, that is, that there is a bijection, that proves that $A$ is exactly countable infinite. $\endgroup$ – Prime Mover Jun 5 '20 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, another note of confusion: "1-1 correspondence" is the same thing as "bijection", in case you didn't catch that. $\endgroup$ – Prime Mover Jun 5 '20 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ Oh hahah I get you now! $\endgroup$ – Steven Jun 5 '20 at 13:30

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