If and only if

In logic and related fields such as mathematics and philosophy, "if and only if" (shortened as "iff") is a biconditional logical connective between statements, where either both statements are true or both are false.

↔⇔≡⟺
Logical symbols representing iff

The connective is biconditional (a statement of material equivalence),[1] and can be likened to the standard material conditional ("only if", equal to "if ... then") combined with its reverse ("if"); hence the name. The result is that the truth of either one of the connected statements requires the truth of the other (i.e. either both statements are true, or both are false), though it is controversial whether the connective thus defined is properly rendered by the English "if and only if"—with its pre-existing meaning. For example, P if and only if Q means that P is true whenever Q is true, and the only case in which P is true is if Q is also true, whereas in the case of P if Q, there could be other scenarios where P is true and Q is false.

In writing, phrases commonly used as alternatives to P "if and only if" Q include: Q is necessary and sufficient for P, P is equivalent (or materially equivalent) to Q (compare with material implication), P precisely if Q, P precisely (or exactly) when Q, P exactly in case Q, and P just in case Q.[2] Some authors regard "iff" as unsuitable in formal writing;[3] others consider it a "borderline case" and tolerate its use.[4]

In logical formulae, logical symbols, such as and ,[5] are used instead of these phrases; see § Notation below.


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