# Complete partial order

In mathematics, **directed-complete partial orders** and **ω-complete partial orders** (abbreviated to **dcpo**, **ωcpo** or sometimes just **cpo**) are special classes of partially ordered sets, characterized by particular completeness properties. Complete partial orders play a central role in theoretical computer science, in denotational semantics and domain theory.

## Definitions

A partially ordered set is a **directed-complete partial order** (**dcpo**) if each of its directed subsets has a supremum. Recall that a subset of a partial order is directed if it is non-empty and every pair of elements has an upper bound in the subset. In the literature, dcpos sometimes also appear under the label **up-complete poset** or simply **cpo**.

The phrase **ω-cpo** (or just **cpo**) is used to describe a poset in which every ω-chain (*x*_{1}≤*x*_{2}≤*x*_{3}≤*x*_{4}≤...) has a supremum. Every dcpo is an ω-cpo, since every ω-chain is a directed set, but the converse is not true.

An important role is played by dcpo's with a least element. They are sometimes called **pointed dcpo**s, or **cppo**s, or just **cpo**s.

Requiring the existence of directed suprema can be motivated by viewing directed sets as generalized approximation sequences and suprema as *limits* of the respective (approximative) computations. This intuition, in the context of denotational semantics, was the motivation behind the development of domain theory.

The dual notion of a directed complete poset is called a **filtered complete partial order**. However, this concept occurs far less frequently in practice, since one usually can work on the dual order explicitly.

## Examples

- Every finite poset is directed complete.
- All complete lattices are also directed complete.
- For any poset, the set of all non-empty filters, ordered by subset inclusion, is a dcpo. Together with the empty filter it is also pointed. If the order has binary meets, then this construction (including the empty filter) actually yields a complete lattice.
- The set of all partial functions on some given set
*S*can be ordered by defining*f*≤*g*for functions*f*and*g*if and only if*g*extends*f*, i.e. if the domain of*f*is a subset of the domain of*g*and the values of*f*and*g*agree on all inputs for which both functions are defined. (Equivalently,*f*≤*g*if and only if*f*⊆*g*where*f*and*g*are identified with their respective graphs.) This order is a pointed dcpo, where the least element is the nowhere defined function (with empty domain). In fact, ≤ is also bounded complete. This example also demonstrates why it is not always natural to have a greatest element. - The specialization order of any sober space is a dcpo.
- Let us use the term “deductive system” as a set of sentences closed under consequence (for defining notion of consequence, let us use e.g. Tarski's algebraic approach
^{[1]}^{[2]}). There are interesting theorems which concern a set of deductive systems being a directed complete partial ordering.^{[3]}Also, a set of deductive systems can be chosen to have a least element in a natural way (so that it can be also a complete partial ordering), because the set of all consequences of the empty set (i.e. “the set of the logically provable / logically valid sentences”) is (1) a deductive system (2) contained by all deductive systems.

## Properties

An ordered set *P* is a pointed dcpo if and only if every chain has a supremum in *P*. Alternatively, an ordered set *P* is a pointed dcpo if and only if every order-preserving self-map of *P* has a least fixpoint. Every set *S* can be turned into a pointed dcpo by adding a least element ⊥ and introducing a flat order with ⊥ ≤ *s* and s ≤ *s* for every *s* ∈ *S* and no other order relations.

## Continuous functions and fixpoints

A function *f* between two dcpos *P* and *Q* is called **(Scott) continuous** if it maps directed sets to directed sets while preserving their suprema:

Note that every continuous function between dcpos is a monotone function. This notion of continuity is equivalent to the topological continuity induced by the Scott topology.

The set of all continuous functions between two dcpos *P* and *Q* is denoted [*P* → *Q*]. Equipped with the pointwise order, this is again a dcpo, and a cpo whenever *Q* is a cpo.
Thus the complete partial orders with Scott continuous maps form a cartesian closed category.^{[4]}

Every order-preserving self-map *f* of a cpo (*P*, ⊥) has a least fixpoint.^{[5]} If *f* is continuous then this fixpoint is equal to the supremum of the iterates (⊥, *f*(⊥), *f*(*f*(⊥)), … *f*^{n}(⊥), …) of ⊥ (see also the Kleene fixpoint theorem).

## See also

Directed completeness relates in various ways to other completeness notions such as chain completeness. Directed completeness alone is quite a basic property that occurs often in other order theoretic investigations, using for instance algebraic posets and the Scott topology.

## Notes

- ↑ Tarski, Alfred: Bizonyítás és igazság / Válogatott tanulmányok. Gondolat, Budapest, 1990. (Title means: Proof and truth / Selected papers.)
- ↑ Stanley N. Burris and H.P. Sankappanavar: A Course in Universal Algebra
- ↑ See online in p. 24 exercises 5–6 of §5 in BurSan:UnivAlg. Or, on paper, see Tar:BizIg.
- ↑ Barendregt, Henk,
*The lambda calculus, its syntax and semantics*, North-Holland (1984) - ↑ See Knaster–Tarski theorem; The foundations of program verification, 2nd edition, Jacques Loeckx and Kurt Sieber, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-91282-4, Chapter 4; the Knaster-Tarski theorem, formulated over cpo's, is given to prove as exercise 4.3-5 on page 90.

## References

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