Pigeonhole principles #
Given pigeons (possibly infinitely many) in pigeonholes, the pigeonhole principle states that, if there are more pigeons than pigeonholes, then there is a pigeonhole with two or more pigeons.
There are a few variations on this statement, and the conclusion can be made stronger depending on how many pigeons you know you might have.
The basic statements of the pigeonhole principle appear in the following locations:
Data.Finset.Basic
hasFinset.exists_ne_map_eq_of_card_lt_of_maps_to
Data.Fintype.Basic
hasFintype.exists_ne_map_eq_of_card_lt
Data.Fintype.Basic
hasFinite.exists_ne_map_eq_of_infinite
Data.Fintype.Basic
hasFinite.exists_infinite_fiber
Data.Set.Finite
hasSet.infinite.exists_ne_map_eq_of_mapsTo
This module gives access to these pigeonhole principles along with 20 more. The versions vary by:
 using a function between
Fintype
s or a function between possibly infinite types restricted toFinset
s;  counting pigeons by a general weight function (
∑ x in s, w x
) or by heads (Finset.card s
);  using strict or nonstrict inequalities;
 establishing upper or lower estimate on the number (or the total weight) of the pigeons in one pigeonhole;
 in case when we count pigeons by some weight function
w
and consider a functionf
betweenFinset
ss
andt
, we can either assume that each pigeon is in one of the pigeonholes (∀ x ∈ s, f x ∈ t
), or assume that fory ∉ t
, the total weight of the pigeons in this pigeonhole∑ x in s.filter (λ x, f x = y), w x
is nonpositive or nonnegative depending on the inequality we are proving.
Lemma names follow mathlib
convention (e.g.,
Finset.exists_lt_sum_fiber_of_maps_to_of_nsmul_lt_sum
); "pigeonhole principle" is mentioned in the
docstrings instead of the names.
See also #

Ordinal.infinite_pigeonhole
: pigeonhole principle for cardinals, formulated using cofinality; 
measure_theory.exists_nonempty_inter_of_measure_univ_lt_tsum_measure
,measure_theory.exists_nonempty_inter_of_measure_univ_lt_sum_measure
: pigeonhole principle in a measure space.
Tags #
pigeonhole principle
The pigeonhole principles on Finset
s, pigeons counted by weight #
In this section we prove the following version of the pigeonhole principle: if the total weight of a
finite set of pigeons is greater than n • b
, and they are sorted into n
pigeonholes, then for
some pigeonhole, the total weight of the pigeons in this pigeonhole is greater than b
, and a few
variations of this theorem.
The principle is formalized in the following way, see
Finset.exists_lt_sum_fiber_of_maps_to_of_nsmul_lt_sum
: if f : α → β
is a function which maps all
elements of s : Finset α
to t : Finset β
and card t • b < ∑ x in s, w x
, where w : α → M
is
a weight function taking values in a LinearOrderedCancelAddCommMonoid
, then for
some y ∈ t
, the sum of the weights of all x ∈ s
such that f x = y
is greater than b
.
There are a few bits we can change in this theorem:
 reverse all inequalities, with obvious adjustments to the name;
 replace the assumption
∀ a ∈ s, f a ∈ t
with∀ y ∉ t, (∑ x in s.filter (λ x, f x = y), w x) ≤ 0
, and replaceof_maps_to
withof_sum_fiber_nonpos
in the name;  use nonstrict inequalities assuming
t
is nonempty.
We can do all these variations independently, so we have eight versions of the theorem.
Strict inequality versions #
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, strict inequality version:
if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is greater than n • b
, and they are sorted into
n
pigeonholes, then for some pigeonhole, the total weight of the pigeons in this pigeonhole is
greater than b
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, strict inequality version:
if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is less than n • b
, and they are sorted into n
pigeonholes, then for some pigeonhole, the total weight of the pigeons in this pigeonhole is less
than b
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, strict inequality version:
if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is greater than n • b
, they are sorted into some
pigeonholes, and for all but n
pigeonholes the total weight of the pigeons there is nonpositive,
then for at least one of these n
pigeonholes, the total weight of the pigeons in this pigeonhole
is greater than b
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, strict inequality version:
if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is less than n • b
, they are sorted into some
pigeonholes, and for all but n
pigeonholes the total weight of the pigeons there is nonnegative,
then for at least one of these n
pigeonholes, the total weight of the pigeons in this pigeonhole
is less than b
.
Nonstrict inequality versions #
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, nonstrict inequality
version: if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is greater than or equal to n • b
, and
they are sorted into n > 0
pigeonholes, then for some pigeonhole, the total weight of the pigeons
in this pigeonhole is greater than or equal to b
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, nonstrict inequality
version: if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is less than or equal to n • b
, and they
are sorted into n > 0
pigeonholes, then for some pigeonhole, the total weight of the pigeons in
this pigeonhole is less than or equal to b
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, nonstrict inequality
version: if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is greater than or equal to n • b
, they
are sorted into some pigeonholes, and for all but n > 0
pigeonholes the total weight of the
pigeons there is nonpositive, then for at least one of these n
pigeonholes, the total weight of
the pigeons in this pigeonhole is greater than or equal to b
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by weight, nonstrict inequality
version: if the total weight of a finite set of pigeons is less than or equal to n • b
, they are
sorted into some pigeonholes, and for all but n > 0
pigeonholes the total weight of the pigeons
there is nonnegative, then for at least one of these n
pigeonholes, the total weight of the
pigeons in this pigeonhole is less than or equal to b
.
The pigeonhole principles on Finset
s, pigeons counted by heads #
In this section we formalize a few versions of the following pigeonhole principle: there is a pigeonhole with at least as many pigeons as the ceiling of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes.
First, we can use strict or nonstrict inequalities. While the versions with nonstrict inequalities
are weaker than those with strict inequalities, sometimes it might be more convenient to apply the
weaker version. Second, we can either state that there exists a pigeonhole with at least n
pigeons, or state that there exists a pigeonhole with at most n
pigeons. In the latter case we do
not need the assumption ∀ a ∈ s, f a ∈ t
.
So, we prove four theorems: Finset.exists_lt_card_fiber_of_maps_to_of_mul_lt_card
,
Finset.exists_le_card_fiber_of_maps_to_of_mul_le_card
,
Finset.exists_card_fiber_lt_of_card_lt_mul
, and Finset.exists_card_fiber_le_of_card_le_mul
.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: there is a pigeonhole with at least as many pigeons as the ceiling of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: there is a pigeonhole with at least as many pigeons as the ceiling of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes. ("The maximum is at least the mean" specialized to integers.)
More formally, given a function between finite sets s
and t
and a natural number n
such that
card t * n < card s
, there exists y ∈ t
such that its preimage in s
has more than n
elements.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: there is a pigeonhole with at most as many pigeons as the floor of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: there is a pigeonhole with at most as many pigeons as the floor of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes. ("The minimum is at most the mean" specialized to integers.)
More formally, given a function f
, a finite sets s
in its domain, a finite set t
in its
codomain, and a natural number n
such that card s < card t * n
, there exists y ∈ t
such that
its preimage in s
has less than n
elements.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: given a function between
finite sets s
and t
and a number b
such that card t • b ≤ card s
, there exists y ∈ t
such
that its preimage in s
has at least b
elements.
See also Finset.exists_lt_card_fiber_of_nsmul_lt_card_of_maps_to
for a stronger statement.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: given a function between
finite sets s
and t
and a natural number b
such that card t * n ≤ card s
, there exists
y ∈ t
such that its preimage in s
has at least n
elements. See also
Finset.exists_lt_card_fiber_of_mul_lt_card_of_maps_to
for a stronger statement.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: given a function f
, a
finite sets s
and t
, and a number b
such that card s ≤ card t • b
, there exists y ∈ t
such
that its preimage in s
has no more than b
elements.
See also Finset.exists_card_fiber_lt_of_card_lt_nsmul
for a stronger statement.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons counted by heads: given a function f
, a
finite sets s
in its domain, a finite set t
in its codomain, and a natural number n
such that
card s ≤ card t * n
, there exists y ∈ t
such that its preimage in s
has no more than n
elements. See also Finset.exists_card_fiber_lt_of_card_lt_mul
for a stronger statement.
The pigeonhole principles on Fintypes
s, pigeons counted by weight #
In this section we specialize theorems from the previous section to the special case of functions
between Fintype
s and s = univ
, t = univ
. In this case the assumption ∀ x ∈ s, f x ∈ t
always
holds, so we have four theorems instead of eight.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons of different weights, strict inequality
version: there is a pigeonhole with the total weight of pigeons in it greater than b
provided that
the total number of pigeonholes times b
is less than the total weight of all pigeons.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons of different weights, nonstrict inequality
version: there is a pigeonhole with the total weight of pigeons in it greater than or equal to b
provided that the total number of pigeonholes times b
is less than or equal to the total weight of
all pigeons.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons of different weights, strict inequality
version: there is a pigeonhole with the total weight of pigeons in it less than b
provided that
the total number of pigeonholes times b
is greater than the total weight of all pigeons.
The pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons of different weights, nonstrict inequality
version: there is a pigeonhole with the total weight of pigeons in it less than or equal to b
provided that the total number of pigeonholes times b
is greater than or equal to the total weight
of all pigeons.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. There is a pigeonhole with at least as many pigeons as the ceiling of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. There is a pigeonhole with at least as many pigeons as the ceiling of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes. ("The maximum is at least the mean" specialized to integers.)
More formally, given a function f
between finite types α
and β
and a number n
such that
card β * n < card α
, there exists an element y : β
such that its preimage has more than n
elements.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. There is a pigeonhole with at most as many pigeons as the floor of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. There is a pigeonhole with at most as many pigeons as the floor of the average number of pigeons across all pigeonholes. ("The minimum is at most the mean" specialized to integers.)
More formally, given a function f
between finite types α
and β
and a number n
such that
card α < card β * n
, there exists an element y : β
such that its preimage has less than n
elements.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. Given a function f
between finite types α
and β
and a number b
such that card β • b ≤ card α
, there exists an
element y : β
such that its preimage has at least b
elements.
See also Fintype.exists_lt_card_fiber_of_nsmul_lt_card
for a stronger statement.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. Given a function f
between finite types α
and β
and a number n
such that card β * n ≤ card α
, there exists an
element y : β
such that its preimage has at least n
elements. See also
Fintype.exists_lt_card_fiber_of_mul_lt_card
for a stronger statement.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. Given a function f
between finite types α
and β
and a number b
such that card α ≤ card β • b
, there exists an
element y : β
such that its preimage has at most b
elements.
See also Fintype.exists_card_fiber_lt_of_card_lt_nsmul
for a stronger statement.
The strong pigeonhole principle for finitely many pigeons and pigeonholes. Given a function f
between finite types α
and β
and a number n
such that card α ≤ card β * n
, there exists an
element y : β
such that its preimage has at most n
elements. See also
Fintype.exists_card_fiber_lt_of_card_lt_mul
for a stronger statement.