# Contents

## Definition

### Total preorders

A total preorder or linear preorder or preference relation or (non-strict) weak order is a preorder whose posetal reflection is a total order, or equivalently it is a preorder which is also a total relation:

• for all elements $x$ and $y$, $x \leq y$ or $y \leq x$

In category theory, a total preorder is a thin category $C$ for which given two objects $x \in C$ and $y \in C$, there exists a morphism in either $\mathrm{hom}(x, y)$ or $\mathrm{hom}(y, x)$. In fact, every total preorder is an unbounded prelattice, a thin locally cartesian category whose opposite category is also locally cartesian.

### Cotransitive preorders

A cotransitive preorder on a set $S$ is a preorder $\leq$ which satisfies cotransitivity/weak linearity:

• for all $x \in S$, $y \in S$, and $z \in S$, $x \leq z$ implies that $x \leq y$ or $y \leq z$.

### Relation between the two definitions

###### Theorem

Cotransitive preorders are total preorders.

###### Proof

Cotransitivity of $\leq$ says that for all $x \in S$ and $y \in S$, $x \leq x$ implies that $x \leq y$ or $y \leq x$, and reflexivity says that for all $x$, $x \leq x$ is always true. This implies that for all $x$ and $y$, $x \leq y$ or $y \leq x$ is always true, which is precisely the condition of totality. Since cotransitive preorders are preorders, this implies that cotransitive preorders are total preorders.

###### Lemma

Cotransitive partial orders are total orders.

[TBD: figure out if total preorders are cotransitive preorders.]

###### Theorem

Total orders are cotransitive partial orders.

## Strict total preorders

Similar to total orders, one could make a distinction between the usual notion of total preorder, and strict total preorders?, which are the irreflexive version of total preorders, and are defined as a strict preorder which is weakly linear and asymmetric.

Using excluded middle, one can move between total preorders and strict total preorders using negation; that is, the negation of a total preorder is a strict total preorder and vice versa. Actually one usually swaps the order too, as follows:

• $x \leq y$ iff $y \nless x$;
• $x \lt y$ iff $y \nleq x$.

To prove this, it's enough to see that the properties of a strict total preorder are dual to the properties of a total preorder, as follows:

strict total preordertotal preorder
irreflexivityreflexivity
asymmetrytotality
transitivityweak linearity
weak linearitytransitivity

In classical mathematics, the distinction between total preorders and strict total preorders is merely a terminological technicality, which is not always observed; more precisely, there is a natural bijection between the set of total preorders on a given set $S$ and the set of strict total preorders on $S$, and one distinguishes them by their notation.

In constructive mathematics, however, they are irreducibly different. To be specific, if one starts with a total preorder $\leq$ and defines $\lt$ as above, then weak linearity does not follow; and if one starts with a strict total preorder $\lt$ and defines $\leq$ as above, then totality does not follow. Nevertheless, at least $\leq$ will be a preorder, and least $\lt$ will be a strict preorder.

## Examples

An example of a set with a total preorder are the dual rational numbers $\mathbb{Q}[\epsilon]/\epsilon^2$. The dual rational numbers have a strict weak order $\lt$ given by

$(a + b \epsilon \lt c + d \epsilon) \iff (a \lt c)$

for rational numbers $a$, $b$, $c$, and $d$. This strict weak order is not connected because $0 \neq \epsilon$, and thus the negation of the strict weak order, $a \leq b \coloneqq \neg(b \lt a)$, is not antisymmetric. However, $\leq$ is a total preorder, because the strict weak order $\lt$ is irreflexive, weakly linear, transitive, and asymmetric, which implies that $\leq$ is reflexive, transitive, and total.

More generally, any ordered local ring with strict weak order $\lt$ has a total preorder $\leq$ defined by negation of $\lt$. The quotient ordered field by the ideal of non-invertible elements results in a total preorder $\leq$ which is also a total order. In constructive mathematics one has to make sure that $\lt$ is also decidable.

## References

Last revised on December 26, 2023 at 04:33:22. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.