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- This article discusses only the formal meanings of necessary and sufficient. For the causal'' meanings see causation.

- A necessary condition of a statement must be satisfied for the statement to be true. Formally, a statement P is a necessary condition of a statement Q if Q implies P. For example, the ability to breathe is necessary to a human's survival. Likewise, for the whole numbers greater than two, being odd is necessary to being prime, since two is the only whole number that is both even and prime.
- A sufficient condition is one that, if satisfied, assures the statement's truth. Formally, a statement P is a sufficient condition of a statement Q if P implies Q. Thus, jumping is sufficient to leave the ground, since an intrinsic element of the concept jumping is leaving the ground. A number's being divisible by 2 is sufficient for its being even.

That a condition is one of necessary and sufficient does not imply the other. For instance, being a mammal (P) is necessary but not sufficient to being human (Q), and that a number q is rational (P) is sufficient but not necessary to q‘s being a real number (Q). A condition can be both necessary and sufficient. For example, at present, "today is the Fourth of July" is a necessary and sufficient condition for "today is Independence Day in the United States." Similarly, a necessary and sufficient condition for invertibility of a matrix M is that M have a nonzero determinant.

Example 1: Consider thunder, technically the acoustic quality demonstrated by the shock wave that inevitably results from any lightning bolt in the atmosphere. It may fairly be said that thunder is necessary for lightning, since lightning cannot occur without thunder, too, occurring. That is, if lightning does occur, then there is thunder.

Example 2: Being at least 30 years old is necessary for serving in the U.S. Senate. If you are under 30 years old then it is impossible for you to be a senator. That is, if you are a senator, it follows that you are at least 30 years old.

Example 3: In algebra, in order for some set S together with an operation $star$ to form a group, it is necessary that $star$ be associative. It is also necessary that S include a special element e such that for every x in S it is the case that e $star$ x and x $star$ e both equal x. It is also necessary that for every x in S there exist a corresponding element x” such that both x $star$ x” and x” $star$ x equal the special element e. None of these three necessary conditions by itself is sufficient, but the conjunction of the three is.

To say that P is sufficient for Q is to say that in and of itself, knowing P to be true is adequate grounds to conclude that Q is true. The logical relation is expressed as "If P then Q" or "P $Rightarrow$ Q," and may also be expressed as "P implies Q." Several sufficient conditions may, taken together, constitute a single necessary condition, as illustrated in example 3.

Example 1: An occurrence of thunder is a sufficient condition for the occurrence of lightning in the sense that hearing thunder, and unambiguously recognizing it as such, justifies concluding that there has been a lightning bolt.

Example 2: A U.S. president's signing a bill that Congress passed is sufficient to make the bill law, regardless of the fact that even in the event of a presidential veto it still could have become law through a congressional override.

Example 3: That the center of a playing card should be marked with a single large spade (♠) is sufficient for the card to be an ace. Three other sufficient conditions are that the center of the card be marked with a diamond (♦), heart (♥), or club (♣), respectively. None of these conditions is necessary to the card's being an ace, but their disjunction is, since no card can be an ace without fulfilling at least (in fact, exactly) one of the conditions.

Mathematically speaking, necessity and sufficiency are dual to one another. For any statements P and Q, the assertion that P(effect) implication Q(cause). Another facet of this duality is that, as illustrated above, conjunctions of necessary conditions may achieve sufficiency, while disjunctions of sufficient conditions may achieve necessity. For a third facet, identify every mathematical predicate P with the set S(P) of objects for which P holds true; then asserting the necessity of P for Q is equivalent to claiming that S(P) is a superset of S(Q), while asserting the sufficiency of P for Q is equivalent to claiming that S(P) is a subset of S(Q).

- See also: Material equivalence

For example, in graph theory a graph G is called bipartite if it is possible to assign to each of its vertices the color black or white in such a way that every edge of G has one endpoint of each color. And for any graph to be bipartite, it is a necessary and sufficient condition that it contain no odd-length cycles. Thus, discovering whether a graph has any odd cycles tells one whether it is bipartite and vice versa. A philosopher might characterize this state of affairs thus: "Although the concepts of bipartiteness and absence of odd cycles differ in intension, they have identical extension."

- Modus ponens
- Modus tollens (both valid)
- Affirming the consequent
- Denying the antecedent (both fallacious)

- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
- Critical thinking web tutorial: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
- Simon Fraser University: Concepts with examples

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Last updated on Monday September 22, 2008 at 16:13:55 PDT (GMT -0700)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Last updated on Monday September 22, 2008 at 16:13:55 PDT (GMT -0700)

View this article at Wikipedia.org - Edit this article at Wikipedia.org - Donate to the Wikimedia Foundation

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