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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 modern mathematics ...
, a directed set (or a directed preorder or a filtered set) is a nonempty set A together with a reflexive and transitive
binary relation 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 ...
\,\leq\, (that is, a preorder), with the additional property that every pair of elements has an upper bound. In other words, for any a and b in A there must exist c in A with a \leq c and b \leq c. A directed set's preorder is called a . The notion defined above is sometimes called an . A is defined analogously, meaning that every pair of elements is bounded below. Some authors (and this article) assume that a directed set is directed upward, unless otherwise stated. Other authors call a set directed if and only if it is directed both upward and downward. Directed sets are a generalization of nonempty
totally ordered 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 ...
s. That is, all totally ordered sets are directed sets (contrast ordered sets, which need not be directed). Join-semilattices (which are partially ordered sets) are directed sets as well, but not conversely. Likewise, lattices are directed sets both upward and downward. In
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 i ...
, directed sets are used to define nets, which generalize
sequence In mathematics, a sequence is an enumerated collection of objects in which repetitions are allowed and order matters. Like a set, it contains members (also called ''elements'', or ''terms''). The number of elements (possibly infinite) is cal ...
s and unite the various notions of limit used in analysis. Directed sets also give rise to direct limits in abstract algebra and (more generally) category theory.


Equivalent definition

In addition to the definition above, there is an equivalent definition. A directed set is a set A with a preorder such that every finite subset of A has an upper bound. In this definition, the existence of an upper bound of the empty subset implies that A is nonempty.


Examples

The set 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 \N with the ordinary order \,\leq\, is one of the most important examples of a directed set (and so is every
totally ordered 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 ...
). By definition, a is a function from a directed set and a
sequence In mathematics, a sequence is an enumerated collection of objects in which repetitions are allowed and order matters. Like a set, it contains members (also called ''elements'', or ''terms''). The number of elements (possibly infinite) is cal ...
is a function from the natural numbers \N. Every sequence canonically becomes a net by endowing \N with \,\leq.\, A (trivial) example of a partially ordered set that is directed is the set \, in which the only order relations are a \leq a and b \leq b. A less trivial example is like the previous example of the "reals directed towards x_0" but in which the ordering rule only applies to pairs of elements on the same side of x_0 (that is, if one takes an element a to the left of x_0, and b to its right, then a and b are not comparable, and the subset \ has no upper bound). If x_0 is a
real number 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 ...
then the set I := \R \backslash \lbrace x_0 \rbrace can be turned into a directed set by defining a \leq_I b if \left, a - x_0\ \geq \left, b - x_0\ (so "greater" elements are closer to x_0). We then say that the reals have been directed towards x_0. This is an example of a directed set that is partially ordered nor totally ordered. This is because antisymmetry breaks down for every pair a and b equidistant from x_0, where a and b are on opposite sides of x_0. Explicitly, this happens when \ = \left\ for some real r \neq 0, in which case a \leq_I b and b \leq_I a even though a \neq b. Had this preorder been defined on \R instead of \R \backslash \lbrace x_0 \rbrace then it would still form a directed set but it would now have a (unique) greatest element, specifically x_0; however, it still wouldn't be partially ordered. This example can be generalized to a
metric space 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 ...
(X, d) by defining on X or X \setminus \left\ the preorder a \leq b if and only if d\left(a, x_0\right) \geq d\left(b, x_0\right).


Maximal and greatest elements

An element m of a preordered set (I, \leq) is a
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 ...
if for every j \in I, m \leq j implies j \leq m. It is a greatest element if for every j \in I, j \leq m. Some straightforward implications of the definition include:


Product of directed sets

Let \mathbb_1 and \mathbb_2 be directed sets. Then the Cartesian product set \mathbb_1 \times \mathbb_2 can be made into a directed set by defining \left(n_1, n_2\right) \leq \left(m_1, m_2\right) if and only if n_1 \leq m_1 and n_2 \leq m_2. In analogy to the product order this is the product direction on the Cartesian product. For example, the set \N \times \N of pairs of natural numbers can be made into a directed set by defining \left(n_0, n_1\right) \leq \left(m_0, m_1\right) if and only if n_0 \leq m_0 and n_1 \leq m_1.


Subset inclusion

The subset inclusion relation \,\subseteq,\, along with its dual \,\supseteq,\, define
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 ...
s on any given family of sets. A non-empty family of sets is a directed set with respect to the partial order \,\supseteq\, (respectively, \,\subseteq\,) if and only if the intersection (respectively, union) of any two of its members contains as a subset (respectively, is contained as a subset of) some third member. In symbols, a family I of sets is directed with respect to \,\supseteq\, (respectively, \,\subseteq\,) if and only if :for all A, B \in I, there exists some C \in I such that A \supseteq C and B \supseteq C (respectively, A \subseteq C and B \subseteq C) or equivalently, :for all A, B \in I, there exists some C \in I such that A \cap B \supseteq C (respectively, A \cap B \subseteq C). Many important examples of directed sets can be defined using these partial orders. For example, by definition, a or is a non-empty family of sets that is a directed set with respect to the
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 ...
\,\supseteq\, and that also does not contain the empty set (this condition prevents triviality because otherwise, the empty set would then be a greatest element with respect to \,\supseteq\,). Every -system, which is a non-empty family of sets that is closed under the intersection of any two of its members, is a directed set with respect to \,\supseteq\,. Every λ-system is a directed set with respect to \,\subseteq\,. Every filter,
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 i ...
, and σ-algebra is a directed set with respect to both \,\supseteq\, and \,\subseteq\,. If x_ = \left(x_i\right)_ is any net from a directed set (I, \leq) then for any index i \in I, the set x_ := \left\ is called the tail of (I, \leq) starting at i. The family \operatorname\left(x_\right) := \left\ of all tails is a directed set with respect to \,\supseteq;\, in fact, it is even a prefilter. If T is a topological space and x_0 is a point in T, set of all neighbourhoods of x_0 can be turned into a directed set by writing U \leq V if and only if U contains V. For every U, V, and W: * U \leq U since U contains itself. * if U \leq V and V \leq W, then U \supseteq V and V \supseteq W, which implies U \supseteq W. Thus U \leq W. * because x_0 \in U \cap V, and since both U \supseteq U \cap V and V \supseteq U \cap V, we have U \leq U \cap V and V \leq U \cap V. Let \operatorname(X) denote the set of all finite subsets of X. Then \operatorname(X) is directed with respect to \,\subseteq\, since given any two A, B \in \operatorname(X), the union A \cup B \in \operatorname(X) is an upper bound of A and B in \operatorname(X). This particular directed set is used to define the sum \sum_ a_x of a generalized series of an X-indexed collection of numbers \left(a_x\right)_ (or elements in an abelian topological group, such as vectors in a topological vector space) as the limit of the net of partial sums A \in \operatorname(X) \mapsto \sum_ a_x; that is: \sum_ a_x := \lim_ \ \sum_ a_x = \lim \left\.


Contrast with semilattices

Directed sets are a more general concept than (join) semilattices: every join semilattice is a directed set, as the join or least upper bound of two elements is the desired c. The converse does not hold however, witness the directed set ordered bitwise (e.g. 1000 \leq 1011 holds, but 0001 \leq 1000 does not, since in the last bit 1 > 0), where has three upper bounds but no upper bound, cf. picture. (Also note that without 1111, the set is not directed.)


Directed subsets

The order relation in a directed set is not required to be antisymmetric, and therefore directed sets are not always
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 ...
s. However, the term is also used frequently in the context of posets. In this setting, a subset A of a partially ordered set (P, \leq) is called a directed subset if it is a directed set according to the same partial order: in other words, it is not the
empty 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 ...
, and every pair of elements has an upper bound. Here the order relation on the elements of A is inherited from P; for this reason, reflexivity and transitivity need not be required explicitly. A directed subset of a poset is not required to be downward closed; a subset of a poset is directed if and only if its downward closure is an ideal. While the definition of a directed set is for an "upward-directed" set (every pair of elements has an upper bound), it is also possible to define a downward-directed set in which every pair of elements has a common lower bound. A subset of a poset is downward-directed if and only if its upper closure is a filter. Directed subsets are used in domain theory, which studies directed-complete partial orders.Gierz, p. 2. These are posets in which every upward-directed set is required to have a least upper bound. In this context, directed subsets again provide a generalization of convergent sequences.


See also

* * * * *


Notes


References

* J. L. Kelley (1955), ''General Topology''. * Gierz, Hofmann, Keimel, ''et al.'' (2003), ''Continuous Lattices and Domains'', Cambridge University Press. . {{Order theory Binary relations General topology Order theory