Axiom of dependent choice

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In mathematics, the axiom of dependent choice, denoted DC, is a weak form of the axiom of choice (AC) that is still sufficient to develop most of real analysis. It was introduced by Bernays (1942).

Formal statement

The axiom can be stated as follows: For any nonempty set X and any entire binary relation R on X, there is a sequence (xn) in X such that xnRxn+1 for each n in N. (Here an entire binary relation on X is one such that for each a in X there is a b in X such that aRb.) Note that even without such an axiom we could form the first n terms of such a sequence, for any natural number n; the axiom of dependent choice merely says that we can form a whole sequence this way.

If the set X above is restricted to be the set of all real numbers, the resulting axiom is called DCR.


DC is the fragment of AC required to show the existence of a sequence constructed by transfinite recursion of countable length, if it is necessary to make a choice at each step.

Equivalent statements

DC is (over the theory ZF) equivalent to the statement that every (nonempty) pruned tree has a branch.

It is also equivalent[1] to the Baire category theorem for complete metric spaces.

Relation with other axioms

Unlike full AC, DC is insufficient to prove (given ZF) that there is a nonmeasurable set of reals, or that there is a set of reals without the property of Baire or without the perfect set property.

The axiom of dependent choice implies the Axiom of countable choice, and is strictly stronger.


  1. Blair, Charles E. The Baire category theorem implies the principle of dependent choices. Bull. Acad. Polon. Sci. Sér. Sci. Math. Astronom. Phys. 25 (1977), no. 10, 933--934.


  • Bernays, Paul (1942), "A system of axiomatic set theory. III. Infinity and enumerability. Analysis.", J. Symbolic Logic, 7: 65–89, MR 0006333<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jech, Thomas, 2003. Set Theory: The Third Millennium Edition, Revised and Expanded. Springer. ISBN 3-540-44085-2.