cofinal (mathematics)
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, a
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B \subseteq A of a preordered set (A, \leq) is said to be cofinal or frequent in A if for every a \in A, it is possible to find an element b in B that is "larger than a" (explicitly, "larger than a" means a \leq b). Cofinal subsets are very important in the theory of directed sets and nets, where “ cofinal subnet” is the appropriate generalization of "
subsequence In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in m ...
". They are also important in order theory, including the theory of cardinal numbers, where the minimum possible cardinality of a cofinal subset of A is referred to as the cofinality of A.


Definitions

Let \,\leq\, be a homogeneous binary relation on a set A. A subset B \subseteq A is said to be or with respect to \,\leq\, if it satisfies the following condition: :For every a \in A, there exists some b \in B that a \leq b. A subset that is not frequent is called . This definition is most commonly applied when (A, \leq) is a directed set, which is a preordered set with additional properties. ;Final functions A map f : X \to A between two directed sets is said to be if the
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f(X) of f is a cofinal subset of A. ;Coinitial subsets A subset B \subseteq A is said to be (or in the sense of forcing) if it satisfies the following condition: :For every a \in A, there exists some b \in B such that b \leq a. This is the order-theoretic dual to the notion of cofinal subset. Cofinal (respectively coinitial) subsets are precisely the dense sets with respect to the right (respectively left)
order topology In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in m ...
.


Properties

The cofinal relation over partially ordered sets (" posets") is reflexive: every poset is cofinal in itself. It is also transitive: if B is a cofinal subset of a poset A, and C is a cofinal subset of B (with the partial ordering of A applied to B), then C is also a cofinal subset of A. For a partially ordered set with
maximal element In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in mo ...
s, every cofinal subset must contain all
maximal element In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in mo ...
s, otherwise a maximal element that is not in the subset would fail to be any element of the subset, violating the definition of cofinal. For a partially ordered set with a greatest element, a subset is cofinal if and only if it contains that greatest element (this follows, since a greatest element is necessarily a maximal element). Partially ordered sets without greatest element or maximal elements admit disjoint cofinal subsets. For example, the even and odd
natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in lang ...
s form disjoint cofinal subsets of the set of all natural numbers. If a partially ordered set A admits a totally ordered cofinal subset, then we can find a subset B that is well-ordered and cofinal in A. If (A, \leq) is a directed set and if B \subseteq A is a cofinal subset of A then (B, \leq) is also a directed set.


Examples and sufficient conditions

Any superset of a cofinal subset is itself cofinal. If (A, \leq) is a directed set and if some union of (one or more) finitely many subsets S_1 \cup \cdots \cup S_n is cofinal then at least one of the set S_1, \ldots, S_n is cofinal. This property is not true in general without the hypothesis that (A, \leq) is directed. ;Subset relations and neighborhood bases Let X be a topological space and let \mathcal_x denote the neighborhood filter at a point x \in X. The superset relation \,\supseteq\, is a
partial order In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in m ...
on \mathcal_x: explicitly, for any sets S and T, declare that S \leq T if and only if S \supseteq T (so in essence, \,\leq\, is equal to \,\supseteq\,). A subset \mathcal \subseteq \mathcal_x is called a at x if (and only if) \mathcal is a cofinal subset of \left(\mathcal_x, \supseteq\right); that is, if and only if for every N \in \mathcal_x there exists some B \in \mathcal such that N \supseteq B. (I.e. such that N \leq B.) ;Cofinal subsets of the real numbers For any - \infty < x < \infty, the interval (x, \infty) is a cofinal subset of (\R, \leq) but it is a cofinal subset of (\R, \geq). The set \N of
natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in lang ...
s (consisting of positive integers) is a cofinal subset of (\R, \leq) but this is true of the set of negative integers - \N := \. Similarly, for any -\infty < y < \infty, the interval (- \infty, y) is a cofinal subset of (\R, \geq) but it is a cofinal subset of (\R, \leq). The set - \N of negative integers is a cofinal subset of (\R, \geq) but this is true of the natural numbers \N. The set \Z of all
integer An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural number ...
s is a cofinal subset of (\R, \leq) and also a cofinal subset of (\R, \geq); the same is true of the set \Q.


Cofinal set of subsets

A particular but important case is given if A is a subset of the
power set In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...
\wp(E) of some set E, ordered by reverse inclusion \,\supseteq. Given this ordering of A, a subset B \subseteq A is cofinal in A if for every a \in A there is a b \in B such that a \supseteq b. For example, let E be a group and let A be the set of
normal subgroup In abstract algebra, a normal subgroup (also known as an invariant subgroup or self-conjugate subgroup) is a subgroup that is invariant under conjugation by members of the group of which it is a part. In other words, a subgroup N of the group ...
s of finite index. The profinite completion of E is defined to be the inverse limit of the inverse system of finite quotients of E (which are parametrized by the set A). In this situation, every cofinal subset of A is sufficient to construct and describe the profinite completion of E.


See also

* * * ** a subset U of a partially ordered set (P, \leq) that contains every element y \in P for which there is an x \in U with x \leq y


References

* * {{Order theory Order theory