Axiom of adjunction

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In mathematical set theory, the axiom of adjunction states that for any two sets x, y there is a set w = x ∪ {y} given by "adjoining" the set y to the set x. It is stated as

Bernays (1937, page 68, axiom II (2)) introduced the axiom of adjunction as one of the axioms for a system of set theory that he introduced in about 1929. It is a weak axiom, used in some weak systems of set theory such as general set theory or finitary set theory. The adjunction operation is also used as one of the operations of primitive recursive set functions.

Interpretability of arithmetic[edit]

Tarski and Szmielew showed that Robinson arithmetic () can be interpreted in a weak set theory whose axioms are extensionality, the existence of the empty set, and the axiom of adjunction (Tarski 1953, p.34). In fact, empty set and adjunction alone (without extensionality) suffice to interpret .[1] (They are mutually interpretable.)

Adding epsilon-induction to empty set and adjunction yields a theory that is mutually interpretable with Peano arithmetic (). Another axiom schema also yields a theory that is mutually interpretable with :[2]


where is not allowed to have free. This combines axioms of set theory: For trivially true it reduced to the adjunction axiom above, and for it gives the axiom of separation with .


  1. ^ Mancini, Antonella; Montagna, Franco (Spring 1994). "A minimal predicative set theory". Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic. 35 (2): 186–203. doi:10.1305/ndjfl/1094061860. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  2. ^ Friedman, Harvey M. (June 2, 2002). "Issues in the foundations of mathematics" (PDF). Department of Mathematics. Ohio State University. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  • Bernays, Paul (1937), "A System of Axiomatic Set Theory--Part I", The Journal of Symbolic Logic, Association for Symbolic Logic, 2 (1): 65–77, doi:10.2307/2268862, JSTOR 2268862
  • Kirby, Laurence (2009), "Finitary Set Theory", Notre Dame J. Formal Logic, 50 (3): 227–244, doi:10.1215/00294527-2009-009, MR 2572972
  • Tarski, Alfred (1953), Undecidable theories, Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics, Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, MR 0058532
  • Tarski, A., and Givant, Steven (1987) A Formalization of Set Theory without Variables. Providence RI: AMS Colloquium Publications, v. 41.