## Lattice Representations of Order Ideals of Posets July 17, 2009

Posted by Martin Camacho in combinatorics.
Tags: , ,

In this post I’ll talk about the representation of order ideals of posets as distributive lattices. You can get a very good description of posets from Stanley’s Enumerative Combinatorics, Vol 1.

First, a couple definitions:

Definition 1 An order ideal of a poset ${P}$ is a set of elements ${I}$ such that if ${x\in I}$ and ${y\le x}$ then ${y\in I}$

Thus ideals can be finitely generated by selecting a set of generators from ${P}$. We can represent these order ideals visually by drawing lattices.

Definition 2 A chain decomposition of a poset ${P}$ is a partition of the elements of ${P}$ into sets ${C_i}$ such that the subposet ${C_i\subset P}$ is identical to a chain of size ${|C_i|}$.

These chain decomopositions actually end up in a 1-1 correspondence with distributive lattices of posets:

Definition 3 A distributive lattice representation of a chain decomposition ${\mathbf{C}=(C_1,C_2,\cdots, C_k)}$ of some poset ${P}$ is a ${k}$-dimensional lattice ${L\subset \mathbb{Z}^k}$ which satisfies the property that ${(x_1,x_2,\cdots,x_k)\in L}$ iff there is an order ideal ${I}$ of ${P}$ such that ${|I\cup C_i|=x_i}$.

It turns out that the number of paths in these lattices from ${\widehat{0}}$ to ${(|C_1|,|C_2|,\cdots,|C_k|)}$ in ${L}$ is equal to the number of linear extensions of ${P}$. This is an extremely useful tool for computing the number of linear extensions of a complex poset.

1. Akhil Mathew - July 17, 2009

“Thus ideals can be finitely generated by selecting a set of generators from {P}. We can represent these order ideals visually by drawing lattices.”

Are the generators here to be the maximal elements of the poset ideal?

2. Martin Camacho - July 17, 2009

In this case, yes, because after picking an initial set of elements we can only include smaller ones in our ideal.

3. Akhil Mathew - July 17, 2009

So you need to assume $P$ finite, no? Otherwise one could consider, say, $\mathbb{N}$, and have the ideal be the entire space.

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