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I have this prob and still haven't figured about

Let (A, $\leq$) be a partially ordered set. A subset B of A is called an antichain if and only if for any two distinct elements x and y in B, neither x $\leq$ y or y $\leq$ x. Prove that every antichain is contained in an antichain which is maximal with respect to inclusion $\subseteq$

I tried to make a set of subsets of A which are antichains. However I don't know what to do next. The text book says use Hausdorff maximal principle, but I can't use it from the set I made cause elements are not totally ordered sets. What should I do?

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I removed the elementary set theory tag since the Hausdorff Maximal Principle is equivalent to the Axiom of Choice. – Willie Wong Jan 11 '13 at 13:40
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Let $L$ be the set of all antichains of $A$. $L$ is evidently non-empty, since every singleton subset $\{x\}\subset A$ is an antichain.

Since $L \subset \mathcal{P}A$ we have that $L$ is partially ordered by set inclusion.

For an antichain $B$, $\{B\}\subseteq L$ is totally ordered by set inclusion trivially. Hence applying Hausdorff Maximal principle it is contained in a maximal totally order chain which we call $\mathcal{C}\subseteq L$.

Let $\bar{B} = \cup \mathcal{C}$.

Verify $\bar{B}$ is maximal: if not, there would be $C$ an antichain such that $C\supsetneq \bar{B}$. But then $\mathcal{C} \cup \{C\} \supsetneq \mathcal{C}$ contradicts maximality of $\mathcal{C}$.

Next we verify $\bar{B}$ is an antichain. If $x,y\in \bar{B}$ we know that $\exists B_x,B_y\in \mathcal{C}$ such that $x\in B_x, y\in B_y$. But since $\mathcal{C}$ is totally ordered we have that $\exists B' \in \mathcal{C}$ such that $B' \supset B_x \cup B_y$ and so $x,y\in B'$. Since $B'\in L$ we have that $x,y$ are not comparable. Hence $\bar{B}$ is an antichain.

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Thank you. By the way, why the existence of such B' implies x,y are in B'? – mingyu Jan 11 '13 at 13:57
$x\in B_x \subseteq B'$ and $y\in B_y \subseteq B'$. .. Ah, I made a typo in the original answer. Sorry. – Willie Wong Jan 11 '13 at 14:00
Now I got it! Thank you again:) – mingyu Jan 11 '13 at 14:02

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