# Partition of an interval A partition of an interval being used in a Riemann sum. The partition itself is shown in grey at the bottom, with one subinterval indicated in red.

In mathematics, a partition of an interval [a, b] on the real line is a finite sequence x0, x1, x2, ..., xn of real numbers such that

a = x0 < x1 < x2 < ... < xn = b.

In other terms, a partition of a compact interval I is a strictly increasing sequence of numbers (belonging to the interval I itself) starting from the initial point of I and arriving at the final point of I.

Every interval of the form [xi, xi + 1] is referred to as a subinterval of the partition x.

## Refinement of a partition

Another partition Q of the given interval [a, b] is defined as a refinement of the partition P, if Q contains all the points of P and possibly some other points as well; the partition Q is said to be “finer” than P. Given two partitions, P and Q, one can always form their common refinement, denoted P ∨ Q, which consists of all the points of P and Q, in increasing order.

## Norm of a partition

The norm (or mesh) of the partition

x0 < x1 < x2 < ... < xn

is the length of the longest of these subintervals

max{|xixi−1| : i = 1, ... , n }.

## Applications

Partitions are used in the theory of the Riemann integral, the Riemann–Stieltjes integral and the regulated integral. Specifically, as finer partitions of a given interval are considered, their mesh approaches zero and the Riemann sum based on a given partition approaches the Riemann integral.

## Tagged partitions

A tagged partition is a partition of a given interval together with a finite sequence of numbers t0, ..., tn − 1 subject to the conditions that for each i,

xitixi + 1.

In other words, a tagged partition is a partition together with a distinguished point of every subinterval: its mesh is defined in the same way as for an ordinary partition. It is possible to define a partial order on the set of all tagged partitions by saying that one tagged partition is bigger than another if the bigger one is a refinement of the smaller one.[citation needed]

Suppose that x0, ..., xn together with t0, ..., tn − 1 is a tagged partition of [a, b], and that y0, ..., ym together with s0, ..., sm − 1 is another tagged partition of [a, b]. We say that y0, ..., ym together with s0, ..., sm − 1 is a refinement of a tagged partition x0, ..., xn together with t0, ..., tn − 1 if for each integer i with 0 ≤ in, there is an integer r(i) such that xi = yr(i) and such that ti = sj for some j with r(i) ≤ jr(i + 1) − 1. Said more simply, a refinement of a tagged partition takes the starting partition and adds more tags, but does not take any away.