In mathematics, a **complete lattice** is a partially ordered set in which *all* subsets have both a supremum (join) and an infimum (meet). Specifically, every non-empty finite lattice is complete. Complete lattices appear in many applications in mathematics and computer science. Being a special instance of lattices, they are studied both in order theory and universal algebra.

- Formal definition
- Complete semilattices
- Complete sublattices
- Examples
- Locally finite complete lattices
- Morphisms of complete lattices
- Free construction and completion
- Free "complete semilattices"
- Free complete lattices
- Completion
- Representation
- Further results
- See also
- References

Complete lattices must not be confused with complete partial orders (*cpo*s), which constitute a strictly more general class of partially ordered sets. More specific complete lattices are complete Boolean algebras and complete Heyting algebras (*locales*).

A partially ordered set (*L*, ≤) is a *complete lattice* if every subset *A* of *L* has both a greatest lower bound (the infimum, also called the *meet*) and a least upper bound (the supremum, also called the *join*) in (*L*, ≤).

The *meet* is denoted by , and the *join* by .

In the special case where *A* is the empty set, the meet of *A* will be the greatest element of *L*. Likewise, the join of the empty set yields the least element. Since the definition also assures the existence of binary meets and joins, complete lattices thus form a special class of bounded lattices.

More implications of the above definition are discussed in the article on completeness properties in order theory.

In order theory, arbitrary meets can be expressed in terms of arbitrary joins and vice versa (for details, see completeness (order theory)). In effect, this means that it is sufficient to require the existence of either all meets or all joins to obtain the class of all complete lattices.

As a consequence, some authors use the terms *complete meet-semilattice * or *complete join-semilattice * as another way to refer to complete lattices. Though similar on objects, the terms entail different notions of homomorphism, as will be explained in the below section on morphisms.

On the other hand, some authors have no use for this distinction of morphisms (especially since the emerging concepts of "complete semilattice morphisms" can as well be specified in general terms). Consequently, *complete meet-semilattices* have also been defined as those meet-semilattices that are also complete partial orders. This concept is arguably the "most complete" notion of a meet-semilattice that is not yet a lattice (in fact, only the top element may be missing). This discussion is also found in the article on semilattices.

A sublattice *M* of a complete lattice *L* is called a *complete sublattice* of *L* if for every subset *A* of *M* the elements and , as defined in *L*, are actually in *M*.^{ [1] }

If the above requirement is lessened to require only non-empty meet and joins to be in *L*, the sublattice *M* is called a *closed sublattice* of *M*.

- Any non-empty finite lattice is trivially complete.
- The power set of a given set, ordered by inclusion. The supremum is given by the union and the infimum by the intersection of subsets.
- The unit interval [0,1] and the extended real number line, with the familiar total order and the ordinary suprema and infima. Indeed, a totally ordered set (with its order topology) is compact as a topological space if it is complete as a lattice.
- The non-negative integers, ordered by divisibility. The least element of this lattice is the number 1, since it divides any other number. Perhaps surprisingly, the greatest element is 0, because it can be divided by any other number. The supremum of finite sets is given by the least common multiple and the infimum by the greatest common divisor. For infinite sets, the supremum will always be 0 while the infimum can well be greater than 1. For example, the set of all even numbers has 2 as the greatest common divisor. If 0 is removed from this structure it remains a lattice but ceases to be complete.
- The subgroups of any given group under inclusion. (While the infimum here is the usual set-theoretic intersection, the supremum of a set of subgroups is the subgroup
*generated by*the set-theoretic union of the subgroups, not the set-theoretic union itself.) If*e*is the identity of*G*, then the trivial group {*e*} is the minimum subgroup of*G*, while the maximum subgroup is the group*G*itself. - The submodules of a module, ordered by inclusion. The supremum is given by the sum of submodules and the infimum by the intersection.
- The ideals of a ring, ordered by inclusion. The supremum is given by the sum of ideals and the infimum by the intersection.
- The open sets of a topological space, ordered by inclusion. The supremum is given by the union of open sets and the infimum by the interior of the intersection.
- The convex subsets of a real or complex vector space, ordered by inclusion. The infimum is given by the intersection of convex sets and the supremum by the convex hull of the union.
- The topologies on a set, ordered by inclusion. The infimum is given by the intersection of topologies, and the supremum by the topology generated by the union of topologies.
- The lattice of all transitive relations on a set.
- The lattice of all sub-multisets of a multiset.
- The lattice of all equivalence relations on a set; the equivalence relation ~ is considered to be smaller (or "finer") than ≈ if
*x*~*y*always implies*x*≈*y*. - The lattice of self-adjoint projections (also known as orthogonal projections) of a von Neumann algebra.

A complete lattice *L* is said to be locally finite if the supremum of any infinite subset is equal to 1, or equivalently, the set is finite for any . The lattice (**N**, |) is locally finite. Note that in this lattice, the element generally denoted "0" is actually 1 and vice versa.

The traditional morphisms between complete lattices are the *complete homomorphisms* (or *complete lattice homomorphisms*). These are characterized as functions that preserve all joins and all meets. Explicitly, this means that a function *f: L→M* between two complete lattices *L* and *M* is a complete homomorphism if

- and
- ,

for all subsets *A* of *L*. Such functions are automatically monotonic, but the condition of being a complete homomorphism is in fact much more specific. For this reason, it can be useful to consider weaker notions of morphisms, that are only required to preserve all joins (giving a category **Sup**) or all meets (giving a category **Inf**), which are indeed inequivalent conditions. This notion may be considered as a homomorphism of complete meet-semilattices or complete join-semilattices, respectively.

Furthermore, morphisms that preserve all joins are equivalently characterized as the *lower adjoint* part of a unique Galois connection. Each of these determines a unique *upper adjoint* in the inverse direction that preserves all meets. Hence, considering complete lattices with complete semilattice morphisms boils down to considering Galois connections as morphisms. This also yields the insight that the introduced morphisms do basically describe just two different categories of complete lattices: one with complete homomorphisms and one with meet-preserving functions (upper adjoints), dual to the one with join-preserving mappings (lower adjoints).

As usual, the construction of free objects depends on the chosen class of morphisms. Let us first consider functions that preserve all joins (i.e. lower adjoints of Galois connections), since this case is simpler than the situation for complete homomorphisms. Using the aforementioned terminology, this could be called a *free complete join-semilattice*.

Using the standard definition from universal algebra, a free complete lattice over a generating set *S* is a complete lattice *L* together with a function *i*:*S*→*L*, such that any function *f* from *S* to the underlying set of some complete lattice M can be *factored uniquely* through a morphism *f*° from *L* to *M*. Stated differently, for every element *s* of *S* we find that *f*(*s*) = *f*°(*i*(*s*)) and that *f*° is the only morphism with this property. These conditions basically amount to saying that there is a functor from the category of sets and functions to the category of complete lattices and join-preserving functions which is left adjoint to the forgetful functor from complete lattices to their underlying sets.

Free complete lattices in this sense can be constructed very easily: the complete lattice generated by some set *S* is just the powerset 2^{S}, i.e. the set of all subsets of *S*, ordered by subset inclusion. The required unit *i*:*S*→2^{S} maps any element *s* of *S* to the singleton set {*s*}. Given a mapping *f* as above, the function *f*°:2^{S}→*M* is defined by

- .

Then *f*° transforms unions into suprema and thus preserves joins.

Our considerations also yield a free construction for morphisms that do preserve meets instead of joins (i.e. upper adjoints of Galois connections). In fact, we merely have to dualize what was said above: free objects are given as powersets ordered by reverse inclusion, such that set union provides the meet operation, and the function *f*° is defined in terms of meets instead of joins. The result of this construction could be called a *free complete meet-semilattice*. One should also note how these free constructions extend those that are used to obtain free semilattices, where we only need to consider finite sets.

The situation for complete lattices with complete homomorphisms obviously is more intricate. In fact, free complete lattices do generally not exist. Of course, one can formulate a word problem similar to the one for the case of lattices, but the collection of all possible words (or "terms") in this case would be a proper class, because arbitrary meets and joins comprise operations for argument-sets of every cardinality.

This property in itself is not a problem: as the case of free complete semilattices above shows, it can well be that the solution of the word problem leaves only a set of equivalence classes. In other words, it is possible that proper classes of the class of all terms have the same meaning and are thus identified in the free construction. However, the equivalence classes for the word problem of complete lattices are "too small", such that the free complete lattice would still be a proper class, which is not allowed.

Now one might still hope that there are some useful cases where the set of generators is sufficiently small for a free complete lattice to exist. Unfortunately, the size limit is very low and we have the following theorem:

- The free complete lattice on three generators does not exist; it is a proper class.

A proof of this statement is given by Johnstone;^{ [2] } the original argument is attributed to Alfred W. Hales;^{ [3] } see also the article on free lattices.

If a complete lattice is freely generated from a given *poset* used in place of the set of generators considered above, then one speaks of a *completion* of the poset. The definition of the result of this operation is similar to the above definition of free objects, where "sets" and "functions" are replaced by "posets" and "monotone mappings". Likewise, one can describe the completion process as a functor from the category of posets with monotone functions to some category of complete lattices with appropriate morphisms that is left adjoint to the forgetful functor in the converse direction.

As long as one considers meet- or join-preserving functions as morphisms, this can easily be achieved through the so-called Dedekind–MacNeille completion. For this process, elements of the poset are mapped to (Dedekind-) *cuts*, which can then be mapped to the underlying posets of arbitrary complete lattices in much the same way as done for sets and free complete (semi-) lattices above.

The aforementioned result that free complete lattices do not exist entails that an according free construction from a poset is not possible either. This is easily seen by considering posets with a discrete order, where every element only relates to itself. These are exactly the free posets on an underlying set. Would there be a free construction of complete lattices from posets, then both constructions could be composed, which contradicts the negative result above.

Already G. Birkhoff's *Lattice Theory* book^{ [4] } contains a very useful representation method. It associates a complete lattice to any binary relation between two sets by constructing a Galois connection from the relation, which then leads to two dually isomorphic closure systems. Closure systems are intersection-closed families of sets. When ordered by the subset relation ⊆, they are complete lattices.

A special instance of Birkhoff's construction starts from an arbitrary poset *(P,≤)* and constructs the Galois connection from the order relation ≤ between *P* and itself. The resulting complete lattice is the Dedekind-MacNeille completion. When this completion is applied to a poset that already is a complete lattice, then the result is isomorphic to the original one. Thus we immediately find that every complete lattice is represented by Birkhoff's method, up to isomorphism.

The construction is utilized in formal concept analysis, where one represents real-word data by binary relations (called *formal contexts*) and uses the associated complete lattices (called *concept lattices*) for data analysis. The mathematics behind formal concept analysis therefore is the theory of complete lattices.

Another representation is obtained as follows: A subset of a complete lattice is itself a complete lattice (when ordered with the induced order) if and only if it is the image of an increasing and idempotent (but not necessarily extensive) self-map. The identity mapping obviously has these two properties. Thus all complete lattices occur.

Besides the previous representation results, there are some other statements that can be made about complete lattices, or that take a particularly simple form in this case. An example is the Knaster–Tarski theorem, which states that the set of fixed points of a monotone function on a complete lattice is again a complete lattice. This is easily seen to be a generalization of the above observation about the images of increasing and idempotent functions, since these are instances of the theorem.

In mathematics, especially in order theory, a **Galois connection** is a particular correspondence (typically) between two partially ordered sets (posets). The same notion can also be defined on preordered sets or classes; this article presents the common case of posets. Galois connections generalize the correspondence between subgroups and subfields investigated in Galois theory. They find applications in various mathematical theories.

In the mathematical areas of order and lattice theory, the **Knaster–Tarski theorem**, named after Bronisław Knaster and Alfred Tarski, states the following:

In mathematics, a **distributive lattice** is a lattice in which the operations of join and meet distribute over each other. The prototypical examples of such structures are collections of sets for which the lattice operations can be given by set union and intersection. Indeed, these lattices of sets describe the scenery completely: every distributive lattice is—up to isomorphism—given as such a lattice of sets.

**Order theory** is a branch of mathematics which investigates the intuitive notion of order using binary relations. It provides a formal framework for describing statements such as "this is less than that" or "this precedes that". This article introduces the field and provides basic definitions. A list of order-theoretic terms can be found in the order theory glossary.

This is a glossary of some terms used in various branches of mathematics that are related to the fields of order, lattice, and domain theory. Note that there is a structured list of order topics available as well. Other helpful resources might be the following overview articles:

A **lattice** is an abstract structure studied in the mathematical subdisciplines of order theory and abstract algebra. It consists of a partially ordered set in which every two elements have a unique supremum and a unique infimum. An example is given by the natural numbers, partially ordered by divisibility, for which the unique supremum is the least common multiple and the unique infimum is the greatest common divisor.

In mathematics, a **closure operator** on a set *S* is a function from the power set of *S* to itself that satisfies the following conditions for all sets

In the mathematical area of order theory, one often speaks about functions that **preserve** certain limits, i.e. certain suprema or infima. Roughly speaking, these functions map the supremum/infimum of a set to the supremum/infimum of the image of the set. Depending on the type of sets for which a function satisfies this property, it may preserve finite, directed, non-empty, or just arbitrary suprema or infima. Each of these requirements appears naturally and frequently in many areas of order theory and there are various important relationships among these concepts and other notions such as monotonicity. If the implication of limit preservation is inverted, such that the existence of limits in the range of a function implies the existence of limits in the domain, then one obtains functions that are **limit-reflecting**.

In the mathematical area of order theory, **completeness properties** assert the existence of certain infima or suprema of a given partially ordered set (poset). The most familiar example is the completeness of the real numbers. A special use of the term refers to complete partial orders or complete lattices. However, many other interesting notions of completeness exist.

In the mathematical area of order theory, there are various notions of the common concept of distributivity, applied to the formation of suprema and infima. Most of these apply to partially ordered sets that are at least lattices, but the concept can in fact reasonably be generalized to semilattices as well.

In mathematics, especially in order theory, a **complete Heyting algebra** is a Heyting algebra that is complete as a lattice. Complete Heyting algebras are the objects of three different categories; the category **CHey**, the category **Loc** of **locales**, and its opposite, the category **Frm** of frames. Although these three categories contain the same objects, they differ in their morphisms, and thus get distinct names. Only the morphisms of **CHey** are homomorphisms of complete Heyting algebras.

In the mathematical area of order theory, the **compact elements** or **finite elements** of a partially ordered set are those elements that cannot be subsumed by a supremum of any non-empty directed set that does not already contain members above the compact element. This notion of compactness simultaneously generalizes the notions of finite sets in set theory, compact sets in topology, and finitely generated modules in algebra.

In the mathematical fields of order and domain theory, a **Scott domain** is an algebraic, bounded-complete cpo. They are named in honour of Dana S. Scott, who was the first to study these structures at the advent of domain theory. Scott domains are very closely related to algebraic lattices, being different only in possibly lacking a greatest element. They are also closely related to Scott information systems, which constitute a "syntactic" representation of Scott domains.

In mathematics, a **join-semilattice** is a partially ordered set that has a join for any nonempty finite subset. Dually, a **meet-semilattice** is a partially ordered set which has a meet for any nonempty finite subset. Every join-semilattice is a meet-semilattice in the inverse order and vice versa.

In mathematics, a **complete Boolean algebra** is a Boolean algebra in which every subset has a supremum. Complete Boolean algebras are used to construct Boolean-valued models of set theory in the theory of forcing. Every Boolean algebra *A* has an essentially unique completion, which is a complete Boolean algebra containing *A* such that every element is the supremum of some subset of *A*. As a partially ordered set, this completion of *A* is the Dedekind–MacNeille completion.

In the mathematical area of order theory, a **completely distributive lattice** is a complete lattice in which arbitrary joins distribute over arbitrary meets.

In mathematics, a **Riesz space**, **lattice-ordered vector space** or **vector lattice** is a partially ordered vector space where the order structure is a lattice.

In mathematics, in the area of order theory, a **free lattice** is the free object corresponding to a lattice. As free objects, they have the universal property.

In mathematical optimization, **ordinal optimization** is the maximization of functions taking values in a partially ordered set ("poset"). Ordinal optimization has applications in the theory of queuing networks.

In the mathematics of matroids and lattices, a **geometric lattice** is a finite atomistic semimodular lattice, and a **matroid lattice** is an atomistic semimodular lattice without the assumptions of finiteness. Geometric lattices and matroid lattices, respectively, form the lattices of flats of finite and infinite matroids, and every geometric or matroid lattice comes from a matroid in this way.

- ↑ Burris, Stanley N., and H.P. Sankappanavar, H. P., 1981.
*A Course in Universal Algebra.*Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-90578-2 (A monograph available free online). - ↑ P. T. Johnstone,
*Stone Spaces*, Cambridge University Press, 1982;*(see paragraph 4.7)* - ↑ A. W. Hales,
*On the non-existence of free complete Boolean algebras*, Fundamenta Mathematicae 54: pp.45-66. - ↑ Garrett Birkhoff,
*Lattice Theory*, AMS Colloquium Publications Vol. 25, ISBN 978-0821810255

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