What is a 'Venn Diagram'

A Venn diagram is an illustration that utilizes circles, either overlapping or non-overlapping, to depict a relationship between finite groups of things. This diagram was named after John Venn, an English philosopher and logician, in 1880.

Example of a Venn diagram.

The basic structure of the Venn diagram is typically overlapping circles, with items in the overlapping section bearing a commonality. Items residing in the outer portions of the circles do not share specified common traits.

BREAKING DOWN 'Venn Diagram'

Venn diagrams have long been recognized for their usefulness on an educational level. Since the mid-20th century, these diagrams have been used as part of the introductory logic curriculum and in elementary-level educational plans around the world.

The History of the Venn Diagram

The English logician John Venn invented the diagram in 1880; however, Venn originally called the illustration Eulerian circles. The term Venn diagram did not appear until 1918 when Clarence Lewis, a U.S. academic philosopher and the eventual founder of conceptual pragmatism, referred to the circular depiction as the Venn diagram in his book "A Survey of Symbolic Logic."

Venn studied and taught logic and probability theory at Cambridge University, where Venn developed his method of utilizing diagrams to illustrate set theory. Venn published a prolific, precedent-setting work "The Logic of Chance," a book that explicated the frequency theory of probability. Venn touted that probability should be established based on the regularity that something is predicted to occur, contrary to popular educated assumptions. Venn also developed and more fully realized mathematician George Boole’s theories in his book "Symbolic Logic" in 1881."Symbolic Logic" is also the work in which Venn highlighted what would eventually become the Venn diagram.

More About Venn Diagrams

While Venn diagrams are, at a basic level, simple pictorial representations of the relationship that exists between two sets of ‘things,’ they are much more complex in both their orientation and their applications. Still, the streamlined purpose of the Venn diagram has led to their popularized use to illustrate concepts and groups, and are considered trademark tools for the teaching of beginner-level logic and math.

Another Example of a Venn Diagram

Consider drawing a Venn diagram to examine four-legged animals and domesticated animals. Obviously, a vast number of animals have four legs. But how many of such animals have been domesticated? Dogs and cats would be two examples of four-legged creatures that would fall in the overlapping space of the two circles. A tiger, however, would reside only in the circle representing four-legged animals, while a chicken would be an example of a domesticated animal that does not have four legs and thus would exist only in the circle representing domesticated animals.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Ishikawa Diagram

    An Ishikawa diagram is a diagram that shows the causes of an ...
  2. Joint Probability

    A joint probability is a statistical measure that calculates ...
  3. Circle (Financial Services Company)

    Circle is a financial services company that makes products using ...
  4. Circle Pay App

    Circle Pay is a peer-to-peer money transfer app that uses blockchain ...
  5. Organizational Chart

    An organizational chart is a diagram that outlines the internal ...
  6. Senkou Span A

    Senkou Span A is one of five components constructed in an Ichimoku ...
Related Articles
  1. Tech

    What Is Circle X and Why Should Cryptocurrency Exchange Coinbase Be Worried?

    Circle X is a startup that recently bought Poloniex and plans to launch a rival to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.
  2. Tech

    Monero Now Available On Circle App

    Circle Invest, the popular cryptocurrency investment app now supports Monero, the privacy-focused cryptocurrency
  3. Tech

    Circle, Bitmain to Launch US Dollar Cryptocoin

    Circle secured fresh funding from Bitmain, and is launching its own dollar-pegged cryptocoin
  4. Trading

    Options Hazards That Can Bruise Your Portfolio

    Learn the top three risks and how they can affect you on either side of an options trade.
  5. Insights

    Will 'Animal Spirits' Fire Up the U.S. Economy?

    Despite bullish sentiments, economists forecast less than spirited GDP growth ahead
  6. Investing

    Seven Controversial Investing Theories

    Find out information about seven controversial investing theories that attempt to explain and influence the market as well as the actions of investors.
  7. Investing

    Charles Schwab: Fiscal Stimulus Could Have Caused More 'Hawkish' Fed Tone

    President Trump's tax cuts and the government budget could have prompted a more hawkish tone out of the Fed, says a Schwab strategist.
  8. Investing

    Now Is The Time To Buy Gold And Silver (GLD, SLV)

    Based on the charts of these gold and silver ETFs, now could be an ideal time to invest in precious metals.
  9. Investing

    TD Ameritrade: Investors Should Have More Clarity After Fed Meets

    Investors should learn more about the direction of interest rates on Wednesday after the Fed's first full meeting with new Chairman Jerome Powell.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Short Selling Vs. Put Options: How Payoffs Differ

    The payoff difference between the two comes down to the difference between option and obligation. Read Answer >>
  2. Has the Efficient Market Hypothesis been proven correct or incorrect?

    Explore the efficient market hypothesis and understand the extent to which this theory and its conclusions are correct or ... Read Answer >>
  3. Are economic recessions inevitable?

    Find out why future economic recessions are likely but not inevitable. See how logical arguments can be used to help understand ... Read Answer >>
  4. What's the difference between agency theory and stakeholder theory?

    Learn how agency theory and stakeholder theory are used in business to understand common business communication problems ... Read Answer >>
  5. How can I be paying more than what a stock is trading for?

    It might seem logical that the last traded price of a security is the price at which it would currently be trading, but this ... Read Answer >>
  6. What is the chaos theory?

    The chaos theory is a complicated and disputed mathematical theory that seeks to explain the effect of seemingly insignificant ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center