The question is in the title. Here "$P$ embeds into $Q$" means there is a function $f : P\to Q$ such that for all $p,p'\in P$, $p \le_P p'$ if and only if $f(p) \le_Q f(p')$. A well quasi order $W$ is a relation which is reflexive and transitive, such that for any infinite sequence $w_1,w_2,\ldots,w_n,\ldots$ taken from the universe of $W$, there are some $n < m$ such that $w_n \le_W w_m$.

My question is motivated by this other recent question. Laver proved that the countable linear orders form a wqo under embeddability. If this holds more generally for countable partial orders, then that would imply that the $\bar{\mathcal{O}}$ from the question above has no infinite descending chain or infinite antichain.


The class of countable partial orders quasi-ordered by embeddability is not well quasi-ordered. Here is a simple example of an infinite antichain taken from M. Pouzet, Applications of well quasi-ordering and better quasi-ordering, in Graphs and order (1985), the "crowns": enter image description here

As far as I know, in the literature, the largest class of countable partial orders known to be wqo (in fact, bqo, of course) under embeddability is the class of $N$-free partial orders, i.e. those partial orders in which

enter image description here

does not embed. This was proved by S. Thomassé in On better-quasi-ordering countable series-parallel orders, Trans. Amer. Math. Soc., 352 (2000), 2491--2505.

  • $\begingroup$ Great answer, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Paul McKenney Jul 3 '14 at 12:51

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