Lexicographic order

Generalization of the alphabetical order of dictionaries to sequences of elements of an ordered set / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In mathematics, the lexicographic or lexicographical order (also known as lexical order, or dictionary order) is a generalization of the alphabetical order of the dictionaries to sequences of ordered symbols or, more generally, of elements of a totally ordered set.

There are several variants and generalizations of the lexicographical ordering. One variant applies to sequences of different lengths by comparing the lengths of the sequences before considering their elements.

Another variant, widely used in combinatorics, orders subsets of a given finite set by assigning a total order to the finite set, and converting subsets into increasing sequences, to which the lexicographical order is applied.

A generalization defines an order on a Cartesian product of partially ordered sets; this order is a total order if and only if all factors of the Cartesian product are totally ordered.