# atom

Let $P$ be a poset, partially ordered by $\leq$. An element $a\in P$ is called an atom if it covers some minimal element of $P$. As a result, an atom is never minimal  . A poset $P$ is called atomic if for every element $p\in P$ that is not minimal has an atom $a$ such that $a\leq p$.

Examples.

1. 1.

Let $A$ be a set and $P=2^{A}$ its power set  . $P$ is a poset ordered by $\subseteq$ with a unique minimal element $\varnothing$. Thus, all singleton subsets $\{a\}$ of $A$ are atoms in $P$.

2. 2.

$\mathbb{Z}^{+}$ is partially ordered if we define $a\leq b$ to mean that $a\mid b$. Then $1$ is a minimal element and any prime number $p$ is an atom.

Remark. Given a lattice  $L$ with underlying poset $P$, an element $a\in L$ is called an atom (of $L$) if it is an atom in $P$. A lattice is a called an atomic lattice if its underlying poset is atomic. An atomistic lattice is an atomic lattice such that each element that is not minimal is a join of atoms. If $a$ is an atom in a semimodular lattice $L$, and if $a$ is not under $x$, then $a\vee x$ is an atom in any interval lattice $I$ where $x=\bigwedge I$.

Examples.

1. 1.

$P=2^{A}$, with the usual intersection  and union as the lattice operations  meet and join, is atomistic: every subset $B$ of $A$ is the union of all the singleton subsets of $B$.

2. 2.

$\mathbb{Z}^{+}$, partially ordered as above, with lattice binary operations  defined by $a\wedge b=\operatorname{gcd}(a,b)$, and $a\vee b=\operatorname{lcm}(a,b)$, is a lattice that is atomic, as we have seen earlier. But it is not atomistic: $4$ is not a join of $2$’s; $36$ is not a join of $2$ and $3$ are just two counterexamples.

Title atom Atom 2013-03-22 15:20:09 2013-03-22 15:20:09 CWoo (3771) CWoo (3771) 13 CWoo (3771) Definition msc 06A06 msc 06B99 atomic poset atomic lattice atomistic lattice atomistic