# Equivalence of Definitions of Transitive Closure (Relation Theory)

## Contents

- 1 Theorem
- 2 Proof
- 3 Also see

## Theorem

The following definitions of the concept of **Transitive Closure** in the context of **Relation Theory** are equivalent:

### Definition 1

Let $\RR$ be a relation on a set $S$.

The **transitive closure of $\RR$** is defined as the smallest transitive relation on $S$ which contains $\RR$ as a subset.

### Definition 2

Let $\mathcal R$ be a relation on a set $S$.

The **transitive closure** of $\mathcal R$ is defined as the intersection of all transitive relations on $S$ which contain $\mathcal R$.

### Definition 3

Let $\mathcal R$ be a relation on a set or class $S$.

The **transitive closure** of $\mathcal R$ is the relation $\mathcal R^+$ defined as follows:

For $x, y \in S$, $x \mathrel {\mathcal R^+} y$ if and only if for some $n \in \N_{>0}$ there exist $s_0, s_1, \dots, s_n \in S$ such that $s_0 = x$, $s_n = y$, and:

\(\displaystyle s_0\) | \(\mathcal R\) | \(\displaystyle s_1\) | |||||||||||

\(\displaystyle s_1\) | \(\mathcal R\) | \(\displaystyle s_2\) | |||||||||||

\(\displaystyle \) | \(\vdots\) | \(\displaystyle \) | |||||||||||

\(\displaystyle s_{n - 1}\) | \(\mathcal R\) | \(\displaystyle s_n\) |

### Definition 4

Let $\mathcal R$ be a relation on a set $S$.

Let:

- $\mathcal R^n := \begin{cases} \mathcal R & : n = 0 \\ \mathcal R^{n-1} \circ \mathcal R & : n > 0 \end{cases}$

where $\circ$ denotes composition of relations.

Finally, let:

- $\displaystyle \mathcal R^+ = \bigcup_{i \mathop \in \N} \mathcal R^i$

Then $\mathcal R^+$ is called the **transitive closure** of $\mathcal R$.

## Proof

Let $\RR$ be a relation on a set $S$.

First note that by Smallest Element is Unique, once it has been shown that some relation, $\QQ$, is the smallest transitive superset of $\RR$, it is the only such.

Thus we need only prove that each of the other definitions lead to relations with this property.

First we have:

### Intersection of Transitive Supersets is Smallest Transitive Superset

Let $\RR$ be a relation on a set $S$.

Then the intersection of all transitive relations on $S$ that contain $\RR$ is the smallest transitive relation on $S$ that contains $\RR$.

### The Finite Chain Definition is Equivalent to the Union of Compositions Definition

Follows from the definition of composition of relations.

$\blacksquare$

### Union of Compositions is Smallest Transitive Superset

#### $\RR^+$ is Transitive

By Relation contains Composite with Self iff Transitive, we can prove that $\RR^+$ is transitive by proving the following:

- $\RR^+ \circ \RR^+ \subseteq \RR^+$

Let $\tuple {a, c} \in \RR^+ \circ \RR^+$.

Then:

- $\exists b \in S: \tuple {a, b} \in \RR^+, \tuple {b, c} \in \RR^+$

Thus:

- $\exists n \in \N: \tuple {a, b} \in \RR^n$
- $\exists m \in \N: \tuple {b, c} \in \RR^m$

From Composition of Relations is Associative:

- $\RR^{n + m} = \RR^n \circ \RR^m$

so:

- $\tuple {a, c} \in \RR^{n + m} \subseteq \RR^+$

Since this holds for all $\tuple {a, c} \in \RR^+ \circ \RR^+$:

- $\RR^+ \circ \RR^+ \subseteq \RR^+$

Thus $\RR^+$ is transitive.

$\Box$

#### $\RR^+$ contains $\RR$

$\RR \subseteq \RR^+$ by Set is Subset of Union.

#### $\RR^+$ is Smallest

Let $\RR'$ be a transitive relation on $S$ such that $\RR \subseteq \RR'$.

We must show that $\RR^+ \subseteq \RR'$.

Let $\tuple {a, b} \in \RR^+$.

That is:

- $a \mathrel \RR b$

Then:

- $\exists n \in \N: \tuple {a, b} \in \RR^n$

Thus by the definition of composition of relations, there exists $x_{n-1} \in S$ such that:

- $a \mathrel {\RR^{n - 1} } x_{n - 1} \land x_{n - 1} \mathrel \RR b$

Likewise there exists $x_{n-2} \in S$ such that:

- $a \mathrel {\RR^{n - 2} } x_{n - 2} \land x_{n - 2} \mathrel \RR x_{n - 1}$

And so forth there exist elements $x_0, \dots, x_n \in S$ such that:

- $x_0 = a$
- $x_n = b$
- $\forall k \in \N_n: x_k \mathrel \RR x_{k + 1}$

Since $\RR \subseteq \RR'$:

- $\forall k \in \N_n: x_k \mathrel {\RR'} x_{k + 1}$

Since $\RR'$ is transitive:

- $a \mathrel {\RR'} b$

That is:

- $\tuple {a, b} \in \RR'$

Since this holds for all $\tuple {a, b} \in \RR^+$:

- $\RR^+ \subseteq \RR'$

Since this holds for all transitive relations $\RR'$ that contain $\RR$:

$\RR^+$ is the smallest transitive relation containing $\RR$.

$\blacksquare$

### Finite Chain Definition gives Smallest Transitive Superset

Let $\RR$ be a relation on $S$.

Let $\RR^+$ be the transitive closure of $\RR$ by the finite chain definition.

That is, for $x, y \in S$ let $x \mathrel {\RR^+} y$ if and only if for some natural number $n > 0$ there exist $s_0, s_1, \dots, s_n \in S$ such that $s_0 = x$, $s_n = y$, and:

- $\forall k \in \N_n: s_k \mathrel \RR s_{k+1}$

Then $\RR^+$ is transitive and if $\QQ$ is a transitive relation on $S$ such that $\RR \subseteq \QQ$ then $\RR \subseteq \QQ$.