What I mean that I first model a particular problem on pen and paper as a group of set operations and identities and then implement that using container operations. I.e. a set as a container, or a particular subset of the elements in the container. I totally depends on the program whether that simplifies things or not.
But for instance, I usually find that rather than adding lots of state variables to entities I model state as those objects belonging to various sets. I.e. store object Id in a list pertaining to a particular property.
This way subsystems can be implemented in a non-invasive, and extensible way. The set operators (union, difference etc.) do not need to be implemented explicitly, rather just figure out what is the most simple isomorphic routine to compute the output for that particular operation.