Tukey-Teichmüller Lemma

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Let $\FF$ be a non-empty set of finite character.

Then $\FF$ has an element which is maximal with respect to the set inclusion relation.


Let $\NN \subseteq \FF$ be a nest.

We will show that $\bigcup \NN \in \FF$.

Let $F$ be a finite subset of $\bigcup \NN$.

By the definitions of subset and of union, each element of $F$ is an element of at least one element of $\NN$.

By the Principle of Finite Choice, there is a mapping $c: F \to \NN$ such that:

$\forall x \in F: x \in \map c x$

Then $c \sqbrk F$ is a finite subset of $\NN$.

From Finite Totally Ordered Set is Well-Ordered, $f \sqbrk F$ has a greatest element $P \in \NN \subseteq \FF$.


$F$ is a finite subset of $P$


$P \in \FF$

Since $\FF$ has finite character:

$F \in \FF$

We have thus shown that every finite subset of $\bigcup \NN$ is in $\FF$.

Since $\FF$ is of finite character:

$\bigcup \NN \in \FF$

Thus by Zorn's Lemma, $\FF$ has a maximal element.


Axiom of Choice

This theorem depends on the Axiom of Choice, by way of Zorn's Lemma.

Because of some of its bewilderingly paradoxical implications, the Axiom of Choice is considered in some mathematical circles to be controversial.

Most mathematicians are convinced of its truth and insist that it should nowadays be generally accepted.

However, others consider its implications so counter-intuitive and nonsensical that they adopt the philosophical position that it cannot be true.

Source of Name

This entry was named for John Wilder Tukey and Oswald Teichmüller.

Also known as

The Tukey-Teichmüller Lemma is also known as:

  • The Teichmüller-Tukey Lemma
  • The Teichmüller-Tukey Theorem
  • The Tukey-Teichmüller Theorem
  • Tukey's Lemma.