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Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic that studies sets, which informally are collections of objects. Although any type of object can be collected into a set, set theory is applied most often to objects that are relevant to mathematics. The language of set theory can be used in the definitions of nearly all mathematical objects. The modern study of set theory was initiated by Georg Cantor and Richard Dedekind in the 1870s. After the discovery of paradoxes in naive set theory, such as Russell's paradox, numerous axiom systems were proposed in the early twentieth century, of which the Zermelo–Fraenkel axioms, with or without the axiom of choice, are the best-known.
Mathematical logic is a subfield of mathematics exploring the applications of formal logic to mathematics. It bears close connections to metamathematics, the foundations of mathematics, and theoretical computer science. The unifying themes in mathematical logic include the study of the expressive power of formal systems and the deductive power of formal proof systems. Mathematical logic is often divided into the fields of set theory, model theory, recursion theory, and proof theory. These areas share basic results on logic, particularly first-order logic, and definability.