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One of the most important properties of a binary relation. A relation $R$ on a set $A$ is called transitive if, for any $a,b,c\in A$, the conditions $aRb$ and $bRc$ imply $aRc$. Equivalence relations and orderings are examples of transitive relations. The universal relation, $a R b$ for all $a,b \in A$, the equality relation, $a R b$ for $a=b \in A$ and the empty (nil) relation are transitive.

The intersection of transitive relations on a set is again transitive. The transitive closure $R^*$ of a relation $R$ is the smallest transitive relation containing $R$. It can be described as $a R^* b$ if there exists a finite chain $a = a_0, a_1, \ldots, a_n = b$ such that for each $i=1,\ldots,n$ we have $a_{i-1} R a_i$.


[a1] R. Fraïssé, Theory of Relations, Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics, Elsevier (2011) ISBN 0080960413
[a2] P. R. Halmos, Naive Set Theory, Springer (1960) ISBN 0-387-90092-6
How to Cite This Entry:
Transitivity. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by T.S. Fofanova (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article