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Σ (Sum) and Π (Product) Notation

For reference, this section introduces the terminology used in some texts to describe the minterms and maxterms assigned to a Karnaugh map. Otherwise, there is no new material here.

Σ (sigma) indicates sum and lower case "m" indicates minterms. Σm indicates sum of minterms. The following example is revisited to illustrate our point. Instead of a Boolean equation description of unsimplified logic, we list the minterms.

f(A,B,C,D) = Σ m(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15)


f(A,B,C,D) = Σ(m1,m2,m3,m4,m5,m7,m8,m9,m11,m12,m13,m15)

The numbers indicate cell location, or address, within a Karnaugh map as shown below right. This is certainly a compact means of describing a list of minterms or cells in a K-map.

The Sum-Of-Products solution is not affected by the new terminology. The minterms, 1s, in the map have been grouped as usual and a Sum-OF-Products solution written.

Below, we show the terminology for describing a list of maxterms. Product is indicated by the Greek Π (pi), and upper case "M" indicates maxterms. ΠM indicates product of maxterms. The same example illustrates our point. The Boolean equation description of unsimplified logic, is replaced by a list of maxterms.

f(A,B,C,D) = Π M(2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14)


f(A,B,C,D) = Π(M2, M6, M8, M9, M10, M11, M14)

Once again, the numbers indicate K-map cell address locations. For maxterms this is the location of 0s, as shown below. A Product-OF-Sums solution is completed in the usual manner.

Lessons In Electric Circuits copyright (C) 2000-2020 Tony R. Kuphaldt, under the terms and conditions of the CC BY License.

See the Design Science License (Appendix 3) for details regarding copying and distribution.

Revised November 06, 2021

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