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# Lattices and Boolean algebras

This includes topics of combinatorial interest, with applications in many areas including
computer science and logic. The areas are well represented in the UH Math Department.
Denition. A poset or partially ordered set is a set S with a binary relation which is
reexive, transitive and antisymmetric. is called a partial ordering.
Denition. A lattice is a poset in which any two elements a, b have a least upper bound
a b, called the join of a and b, and a greatest lower bound a b, called the meet of a and
b.
Examples. 1. The lattice of all subsets of a set: The meet is intersection and the join is
union.
2. The lattice of ideals of a ring (or submodules of a module): The meet is intersection and
the join is the sum I +J.
Algebraic denition of a lattice
Theorem 1. L is a lattice i L is a set with binary operations , such that for all
a, b, c L,
(1) a b = b a and a b = b a. (Commutative laws)
(2) (a b) c = a (b c) and (a b) c = a (b c). (Associative laws)
(3) a a = a and a a = a. (Idempotent laws)
(4) (a b) a = a and (a b) a = a (Absorption laws)
Notice that the connection with the original denition is that a b a = a b
b = a b.
Theorem 2 (Principle of Duality). Any valid statement deduced from the axioms for a
lattice remains true if meet and join are interchanged and is replaced by .
Denition. A sublattice of a lattice L is a subset of L closed with respect to meet and join.
Denition. A lattice homomorphism is a function f : L L

## which preserves meet and

join (hence also preserves the partial ordering).
Denition. A lattice is complete if every subset of L has a lub and glb.
For example, the lattice P(S) of all subsets of a set S is complete. The lattice (Q, ) is
not.
1
2
Denition. The identity element of a lattice is an element 1 L such that 1 x, x L.
The zero element of a lattice is an element 0 L such that 0 x, x L.
Such an element is clearly unique if it exists. For example, the 1 in P(S) is S and the 0
is . But (Q, ) has no 0 or 1.
Denition. A lattice is distributive if a, b, c L, a (b c) = (a b) (a c).
The lattice of subsets of a set is distributive, the lattice of ideals of a ring is not.
Denition. A lattice is modular if a, b, c L, a b = a (b c) = b (a c).
Remark: duality applies to both distributive and modular lattices. Distributive lattices
are modular.
Theorem 3. The lattice of normal subgroups of a group is modular.
Theorem 4. A lattice is modular i it has no sublattice isomorphic to N
5
.
Corollary 5. For any ring R and R-module M, the lattice of R-submodules of M is mod-
ular.
Corollary 6. The ideal lattice of a ring is modular.
Denition. Let L be a lattice with 0 and 1. A complement of an element x L is an
element y L such that x y = 0 and x y = 1. We write y = x

. L is a complemented
lattice if all of its elements have complements.
For any set S, the lattice P(S) is complemented, using the usual set-theoretic complement.
Denition. A Boolean algebra is a complemented, distributive lattice. A Boolean algebra
homomorphism is a function preserving meet, join and complement.
Examples. 1. Any eld of sets is a Boolean algebra. That is, a collection of subsets of a
xed set S which is closed under union, intersection and complement and contains both
and S. Stones Representation Theorem says that all Boolean algebras are of this form.
2. Propositional Calculus. This consists of the set of all propositions (statements with
known truth values T or F) and connectives , , which satisfy the Boolean algebra
axioms for meet, join and complement. Note that p q means p q. The identity 1
corresponds to a tautology such as p p, and 0 corresponds to any proposition which is
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always false, such as p p. This is the origin of lattice theory and was rst studied by
George Boole.
Proposition 7. Let B be a Boolean algebra. Each x B has a unique complement x

.
Furthermore, (x

= x, (x y)

= x

, (x y)

= x

.
Given any Boolean algebra A, we can construct an associated Boolean ring A as follows:
The ring A has the same set of elements as A; multiplication is dened by x y = x y;
addition is dened by x+y = (xy

)(x

## y) (symmetric dierence of x and y). Conversely,

given a Boolean ring A, one obtains a Boolean algebra A by setting x y = xy, x y =
x +y +xy and x

## = x + 1. These processes are inverse to one another.

Proposition 8. Let A, B be Boolean algebras and f : A B a function. The following
are equivalent:
(1) f is a Boolean algebra homomorphism.
(2) f preserves meet and complement.
(3) f preserves join and complement.
(4) f preserves meet and join and f(0) = 0, f(1) = 1.
(5) f is a homomorphism of the associated Boolean rings.
Denition. Let C
1
, C
2
be categories. They are equivalent if there exists a functor F: C
1

C
2
such that for all C, D ob(C
1
), F gives a bijection between Mor
C
1
(C, D) and Mor
C
2
(F(C), F(D))
[or Mor
C
2
(F(D), F(C)) if F is contravariant] and for all B ob(C
2
), there exists C ob(C
1
)
such that F(C)

= B. If also F: ob(C
1
) ob(C
2
) is bijective, we say that F is an isomorphism
of categories.
Theorem 9. The category of Boolean algebras and the category of Boolean rings are iso-
morphic.
Denition. A subalgebra of a Boolean algebra is a sublattice containing 0 and 1 which
is itself a Boolean algebra. Equivalently, B is a subalgebra of A if the canonical injection
B A is a Boolean algebra homomorphism by Proposition 8.
We dene ideals, prime ideals and maximal ideals of a Boolean algebra to be the corre-
sponding objects in the associated ring. By your homework, every prime ideal is maximal.
Doing this translation between categories gives
Proposition 10. Let A be a Boolean algebra.
(1) A subset I is an ideal of A i it is closed under join and for all a I, b a =
b I.
(2) An ideal I is maximal i I is proper and for all a A, either a I or a

I.
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Theorem 11. Let X be a Boolean space and let R be the Boolean ring of all clopen subsets
of X. Then X is homeomorphic to Spec R.
Theorem 12. Let R be a Boolean ring and let B be the Boolean ring of all clopen subsets
of Spec R. Then R

= B.
Corollary 13. The category of Boolean algebras is equivalent to the category of Boolean
spaces.
Corollary 14 (Stones Representation Theorem). Every Boolean algebra is isomorphic to
a eld of sets.
Note that the eld of sets is not generally a power set of some set. For example, for
the Boolean algebra associated with the Cantor set, every clopen set is innite. (Finite
sets cannot be open since the topology is inherited from the reals.) We can make some
denitions to clarify this further.
Denition. Let B be a Boolean algebra. An element b B is an atom if b = 0 and for
all x B, x b = x = b or x = 0. The Boolean algebra B is called atomic if for all
0 = x B, there exists b x with b an atom. The Boolean algebra B is called atomless if
it has no atoms.
Any nite Boolean algebra is atomic. The Boolean algebra associated with the Cantor
set is atomless.
Lemma 15. Let b be an atom with b < x
1
x
n
. Then b x
i
for some i.
Theorem 16. Let B be a Boolean algebra. There exists a set A such that B is isomorphic
to P(A) i B is complete and atomic.
Rings which are not Boolean but have Boolean spectrum.
Denition. A (not necessarily commutative) ring R is von Neumann regular if for all
x R, there exists y R such that xyx = x.
Proposition 17. If R/ Nil R is von Neumann regular, then Spec R is Boolean. (The con-
verse also holds.)
Example. Let G be an abelian torsion group and F a eld with characteristic not dividing
the order of any element of G. Given x =

n
1
f
i
g
i
F[G], let H be the subgroup generated
by {g
1
, g
2
, . . . , g
n
}. Then F[H] is semisimple by Proposition 3.8, hence is a nite product
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of elds by the Wedderburn theorem. Look at x = (x
1
, . . . , x
n
) in this product. Let
y
i
=

x
1
i
, if x
i
= 0
0, if x = 0
. Then y = (y
1
, . . . , y
n
) satises xyx = x and y F[H] F[G].
This shows that F[G] is von Neumann regular (known as Maschkes Theorem).
The Mobius function of a poset. See [J1, 8.6] for more details.
This is a generalization of work done by Mobius in number theory. We will do his example
at the end.
Problem. Count the number of permutations of a nite set V without xed
points. For T V , let f(T) be the number of permutations of V which x all the elements
of T and no element of T

## = V \ T. Let g(T) equal the number of permutations of V which

x all elements of T, so g(T) = |T

|!. Then
g(T) =

UT
f(U) (U P(V ))
We want a formula for f(U) in terms of g(T). Our original question asks for f().
In general, let S be a nite poset and and let A be an abelian group. Let f, g : S A
be such that
() g(y) =

xS
xy
f(x).
We want to write f in terms of g.
Lemma 18. The poset S can be listed as x
1
, . . . , x
n
such that if x
i
< x
j
in the partial
ordering, then i < j.
Proof. Let x
1
be a minimal element of S. Choose x
2
to be a minimal element in S \ {x
1
},
and in general, x
i
to be a minimal element in S \ {x
1
, . . . , x
i1
}.
Dene : S S Z by
(x, y) =

1, if x y
0, otherwise
Then () is equivalent to
() g(x
i
) =
n

j=1
(x
i
, x
j
)f(x
j
) (i = 1, . . . , n)
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where we think of A as a Z-module. Since j < i = (x
i
, x
j
) = 0, the matrix Z = (
i,j
) =
(x
i
, x
j
) is upper triangular with ones on the diagonal. Its inverse is easily computed. Let
N = I Z, so that N
n
= 0. Then M = I +N +N
2
+ +N
n1
has inverse I N = Z.
We can write () in matrix form as G = ZF, where G =

g(x
1
)
.
.
.
g(x
n
)

and F =

f(x
1
)
.
.
.
f(x
n
)

.
Then solve and obtain F = MG.
Denition. Write M = (
ij
). The M obius function of the poset S into Z is the function
: S S Z dened by (x
i
, x
j
) =
ij
for all x
i
, x
j
S.
Then F = MG gives us
f(y) =

xS
(y, x)g(x).
Theorem 19. Let S be a nite poset. There exists a unique function : S S Z
such that if A is any abelian group and f, g : S A are functions satisfying (), then
f(y) =

xS
(y, x)g(x) for all y S.
Replacing S by the same set with the reverse partial ordering, we obtain a dual statement
to Theorem 19.
Corollary 20. Let S be a nite poset. There exists a unique function : S S Z such
that if A is any abelian group and f, g : S A are functions satisfying g(y) =

xS
xy
f(x),
then f(y) =

xS
(x, y)g(x) for all y S.
Rewriting the equation MZ = I or ZM = I gives
Corollary 21. The M obius function is the unique function SS Z such that (x, y) = 0
unless x y and
(1)

yS
xyz
(x, y) = (x, z),
where (x, z) = 1 if x = z and (x, z) = 0 if x = z. Or, (1) can be replaced by
(2)

yS
xyz
(y, z) = (x, z),
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Denition. If x z in a poset S, we dene the interval I[x, z] in S to be { y S | x
y z } with the induced partial ordering. The length of the interval is |I[x, z]| 1.
Corollary 22. If the intervals I[x, z] and I[w, t] are isomorphic in S, then (x, z) = (w, t).
Computation for Chains: Consider the totally ordered chain C = {0, . . . , n}.
(i, i) = 1
(i 1, i) = 0 (i 1, i 1) = 1
i > j = (i, j) = 0 since M is upper triangular
(i, i + 2) = 0 (i, i) (i, i + 1) = 1 + 1 = 0
(i, i + 3) = 0 1 + 1 0 = 0

(i, j) = 0 if i = j, j 1
Therefore for C we have
M =

1 1 0 . . . 0
0 1 1 . . . 0

0 . . . 0 0 1

## Denition. The product of posets S

1
, S
2
is S
1
S
2
with the partial ordering (x
1
, x
2
)
(y
1
, y
2
) x
1
y
1
and x
2
y
2
.
Proposition 23. Let S = S
1
S
2
be posets with Mobius functions ,
1
,
2
, respectively.
Then for all x
i
, y
i
S
i
,
((x
1
, x
2
), (y
1
, y
2
)) =
1
(x
1
, y
1
)
2
(x
2
, y
2
).
Corollary 24. Let P(S) be the Boolean algebra of the power set of S = {1, 2, . . . , n}. The
M obius function on P(S) is given by
(U, V ) =

(1)
|V \U|
, if U V
0, if U V
Solution of original problem. The number of permutations of S = {1, 2, . . . , n} without
xed points equals
f() =

UP(S)
(, U)g(U)
=

UP(S)
(1)
|U|
|U

|! =
n

i=0
(1)
i

n
i

(n i)!
= n!
n

i=0
(1)
i
i!

n!
e
for large n.
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Application to number theory. Let D
n
be the lattice of positive integer divisors of
n ordered by divisibility. If n =

r
1
p
e
i
i
, then D
n

= C
1
C
r
, where C
i
is the chain
{0, 1, . . . , e
i
}, via the mapping d =

p
d
i
i
(d
1
, . . . , d
r
). If c =

p
c
i
i
| d, then
(c, d) =

(c
i
, d
i
) =

(1)
l
if
d
c
is a product of l distinct primes
0, if a
2
|
d
c
for some a > 1
1, if
d
c
= 1
In number theory, one writes (d/c) = (c, d) = (1, d/c). Let (n) be the Euler totient
function, counting the number of positive integers less than n and relatively prime to n,
(1) = 1. Let S = {1, 2, . . . , n} =

d|n
S
d
, where i S
d
gcd(n, i) = d i = jd, 1
j
n
d
, gcd(j,
n
d
) = 1. Thus |S
d
| = (n/d).
Taking f = and g equal to the identity in Corollary 20 gives n =

d|n
(
n
d
), hence
(n) =

d|n
(d)
n
d
. Thus we recover the facts we proved algebraically earlier: For a prime
p,
(p
e
) =

d|p
e
(d)
p
e
d
=
e

i=0
(p
i
)p
ei
= (1)p
e
+(p)p
e1
= p
e
p
e1
= p
e
(1 1/p)
We know that is multiplicative by the computation above, so if gcd(m, n) = 1, then
(mn) =

d|mn
(d)
mn
d
=

d
1
|m

d
2
|n
(d
1
)(d
2
)
m
d
1
n
d
2
= (m)(n).
Therefore, if n =

p
e
i
i
, (n) =

(p
e
i
i
) = n

p|n

1
1
p

.
References
[J1] N. Jacobson, Basic Algebra I, W. H. Freeman and Co., 1974.