# Introduction

Can you define the notion of a volume of a shape? For example, what does ”volume” mean for a ball of radius 3? If you think about it, this is not a simple question. You probably understand intuitively what ”volume” and ”area” mean, but giving a proper definition might be tricky. The goal of this article is to provide you a view of a more formal mindset about defining volume and area, and to give you a brief introduction to measure theory.

# Back to school

To begin with, lets go way back to when you first learned about volume. In fact, let’s concentrate on area instead of volume right now for simplicity, since volume is essentially a higher-dimensional extension of area.

# Starting to formalize our definition

Let’s focus on only defining volume, and saying that area is just a two-dimensional variant of volume, for the sake of simplicity.

1. Volume is additive, that is, for two non-intersecting sets 𝐴 and 𝐵, such that both of them are subsets of ℝ (so, for two non-intersecting sets of ”points”), the volume of their union 𝐴 ∪ 𝐵 is equal to the sum of the volume of 𝐴 and the volume of 𝐵.

# Rectangles and their Jordan measure

Let’s consider real-valued intervals of type [𝑎, 𝑏) = {all real 𝑥, such that 𝑎 ≤ 𝑥 < 𝑏} (it is important to note that we only consider intervals, where 𝑎 ≤ 𝑏, so let’s invalidate all other notation), more specifically, Cartesian products of these intervals, that is,

# Bounded sets, infimum, and supremum

Before we can proceed to defining the Jordan measure on arbitrary sets, we need to understand what a bounded set is, and also what ”infimum” and ”supremum” are. If you are already familiar with these topics, you can safely skip this part.

# Jordan measure of abstract sets

Since we already formally defined volume for rectangles, let’s use them to ”approximate” the volume of all other shapes (and sets, for which it ”makes sense” to have volume defined for).

# Beyond Jordan measure

But are there any sets that are not Jordan measurable? Turns out, there are. For example, the set 𝑆 = {all rational 𝑥, such that 𝑥 ∈ [0, 1]} is not Jordan measurable.

# Conclusion

To summarize, we considered a small number of intuitive properties that a ”correct” volume function should have, namely, volume is non-negative, volume is additive, the volume of a 1x1x. . .x1 cube is equal to 1, and the volume of a rectangle is equal to the product of the lengths of its sides. Then we crafted a formal definition of volume that satisfies these intuitive properties, which we also formalized.

A CS student and an aspiring data scientist. My interests include programming, machine learning, mathematics, and finance.

## More from Ivan Lysenko

A CS student and an aspiring data scientist. My interests include programming, machine learning, mathematics, and finance.

## Using the Properties of Homomorphisms to Derive Logarithm Rules

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