Partition of a set
Overview

In mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, a partition of a set X is a division of X into non-overlapping and non-empty "parts" or "blocks" or "cells" that cover all of X. More formally, these "cells" are both collectively exhaustive
Collectively exhaustive
In probability theory, a set of events is jointly or collectively exhaustive if at least one of the events must occur. For example, when rolling a six-sided die, the outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are collectively exhaustive, because they encompass the entire range of possible outcomes.Another way...

and mutually exclusive
Mutually exclusive
In layman's terms, two events are mutually exclusive if they cannot occur at the same time. An example is tossing a coin once, which can result in either heads or tails, but not both....

with respect to the set being partitioned.
A partition of a set X is a set of nonempty subset
Subset
In mathematics, especially in set theory, a set A is a subset of a set B if A is "contained" inside B. A and B may coincide. The relationship of one set being a subset of another is called inclusion or sometimes containment...

s of X such that every element x in X is in exactly one of these subsets.

Equivalently, a set P is a partition of X if, and only if, it does not contain the empty set and:
1. The union
Union (set theory)
In set theory, the union of a collection of sets is the set of all distinct elements in the collection. The union of a collection of sets S_1, S_2, S_3, \dots , S_n\,\! gives a set S_1 \cup S_2 \cup S_3 \cup \dots \cup S_n.- Definition :...

of the elements of P is equal to X.