Chain complete

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In order-theoretic mathematics, a partially ordered set is chain complete if every chain in it has a least upper bound. It is ω-complete when every increasing sequence of elements (a type of countable chain) has a least upper bound; the same notion can be extended to other cardinalities of chains.[1]


Every complete poset is chain complete. Unlike complete posets, chain complete posets are relatively common. Examples include:


Zorn's lemma states that, if a poset has an upper bound for every chain, then it has a maximal element. Thus, it applies to chain complete posets, but is more general in that it allows chains that have upper bounds but do not have least upper bounds.

Chain complete posets also obey the Bourbaki–Witt theorem, a fixed point theorem stating that, if f is a function from a chain complete poset to itself with the property that, for all x, f(x) ≥ x, then f has a fixed point. This theorem, in turn, can be used to prove that Zorn's lemma is a consequence of the axiom of choice.[2][3]

By analogy with the Dedekind–MacNeille completion of a partially ordered set, every partially ordered set can be extended uniquely to a minimal chain-complete poset.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Markowsky, George (1976), "Chain-complete posets and directed sets with applications", Algebra Universalis, 6 (1): 53–68, doi:10.1007/bf02485815, MR 0398913 .
  2. ^ Bourbaki, Nicolas (1949), "Sur le théorème de Zorn", Archiv der Mathematik, 2: 434–437 (1951), doi:10.1007/bf02036949, MR 0047739 .
  3. ^ Witt, Ernst (1951), "Beweisstudien zum Satz von M. Zorn", Mathematische Nachrichten, 4: 434–438, doi:10.1002/mana.3210040138, MR 0039776 .