In mathematics, given two sets *X* and *Y*, the **Cartesian product** (or *direct product*) of the two sets, written as *X* × *Y* is the set of all ordered pairs with the first element of each pair selected from *X* and the second element selected from *Y*.

*X*×*Y*= { (*x*,*y*) |*x*in*X*and*y*in*Y*}

The binary Cartesian product can be generalized to the *n*-ary Cartesian product over *n* sets *X*_{1},... ,*X _{n}*:

*X*_{1}× ... ×*X*= { (_{n}*x*_{1},... ,*x*) |_{n}*x*_{1}in*X*_{1}and ... and*x*in_{n}*X*}_{n}

An example of this is the Euclidean 3-space **R** × **R** × **R**, with **R** again the set of real numbers.

As an aid to its calculation, a table can be drawn up, with one set as the rows and the other as the columns, and forming the ordered pairs, the cells of the table by choosing the element of the set from the row and the column.

Children can be introduced to the Cartesian product by the familiar calendar:

- weeks as rows;
- weekdays as columns;
- a given day as a cell.

The Cartesian product can be used to graph mathematical properties, as in Graphing equivalence and Graphing the total product.

The above definition is usually all that's needed for the most common mathematical applications. However, it is even possible to define the Cartesian product over an arbitrarily infinite collection of sets. If *I* is any index set, and {*X _{i}* |

One particular and familiar infinite case is when the index set is , the natural numbers: this is just the set of all infinite sequences with the *i*th term in its corresponding set *X _{i}*. Once again, trusty old provides an example of this:

Otherwise, the infinite cartesian product is less intuitive; though valuable in its applications to higher mathematics. In fact, asserting even whether or not the cartesian product is the empty set is one of the formulations of the axiom of choice.

See also: Mathematics, Set theory, Group direct product