Often one wants the reflexive-transitive closure of $\sim$, which is the smallest transitive relation that contains $\sim$ and is also reflexive.

These can be defined explicitly as follows: $x \sim^* y$ if and only if, for some natural number$n$, there exists a sequence $(r_0, \ldots, r_n)$ such that

$x = r_0 \sim \cdots \sim r_n = y .$

If you accept $0$ as a natural number, then this defines the reflexive-transitive closure; if not, then this defines the transitive closure.

For the transitive closure, it's also possible to rephrase the above slightly (using only $r_1$ through $r_{n-1}$) to avoid any reference to equality. Thus prerelations have transitive closures but not necessarily reflexive-transitive closures.

Of a material set

In material set theory, the transitive closure of a pure set$X$ is the transitive set$X^*$ whose members are the elements of the downset of $X$ under the transitive closure (in the previous sense) of $\in$. That is, it consists of the members of $X$, their members, their members, and so on. The result is a transitive set, the smallest transitive set that contains $X$ as a subset.

Analogously, the reflexive-transitive closure of $X$ may be defined as the transitive closure of the successor$X \cup \{X\}$ of $X$, or equivalently the transitive closure of $\{X\}$ itself. Either way, this is the same as $X^* \cup \{X\}$. This is the smallest transitive set that contains $X$ as a member. (It is not, however, normally a reflexive set; that is, it does not belong to itself.)

Last revised on November 21, 2017 at 14:08:58.
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