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In additive combinatorics, the sumset (also called the Minkowski sum) of two subsets and of an abelian group (written additively) is defined to be the set of all sums of an element from with an element from . That is,

The -fold iterated sumset of is

where there are summands.

Many of the questions and results of additive combinatorics and additive number theory can be phrased in terms of sumsets. For example, Lagrange's four-square theorem can be written succinctly in the form

where is the set of square numbers. A subject that has received a fair amount of study is that of sets with small doubling, where the size of the set is small (compared to the size of ); see for example Freiman's theorem.

See also[edit]


  • Henry Mann (1976). Addition Theorems: The Addition Theorems of Group Theory and Number Theory (Corrected reprint of 1965 Wiley ed.). Huntington, New York: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 0-88275-418-1.
  • Nathanson, Melvyn B. (1990). "Best possible results on the density of sumsets". In Berndt, Bruce C.; Diamond, Harold G.; Halberstam, Heini; et al. (eds.). Analytic number theory. Proceedings of a conference in honor of Paul T. Bateman, held on April 25-27, 1989, at the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL (USA). Progress in Mathematics. Vol. 85. Boston: Birkhäuser. pp. 395–403. ISBN 0-8176-3481-9. Zbl 0722.11007.
  • Nathanson, Melvyn B. (1996). Additive Number Theory: Inverse Problems and the Geometry of Sumsets. Graduate Texts in Mathematics. Vol. 165. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-94655-1. Zbl 0859.11003.
  • Terence Tao and Van Vu, Additive Combinatorics, Cambridge University Press 2006.

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