Given three sets: $X, Y, Z$ and the two set operations: union and intersection. What is the maximum length of a 'formula' which is not reducible to a shorter formula.

Eg. the formula $(X \cap Y) \cup X$ can be reduced to the formula $X$.

However the formula $Y \cap(X \cup Z)$ is not reducible in length.

I've been thinking about this problem for a while now, but can't seem to get past a length of 3. (the length being the amount of set symbols).


All possible combinations (I think):




$X \cup Y$

$Y \cup Z$

$X \cup Z$

$X \cap Y$

$Y \cap Z$

$X \cap Z$

$(X \cap Y) \cup Z$

$(Y \cap Z) \cup X$

$(Z \cap X) \cup Y$

$(X \cup Y) \cap Z$

$(Z \cup X) \cap Y$

$(Y \cup Z) \cap X$

$X \cap Y \cap Z$

$X \cup Y \cup Z$

$\{(X \cup Z) \cap Y\} \cup (X \cap Z)$

Venn says:

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that by using only union and intersection operations it is impossible to get rid of the $X \cap Y \cap Z$ region. $\endgroup$ – Maazul Apr 30 '13 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much! This is a great help! $\endgroup$ – 13Tazer31 May 1 '13 at 15:38

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