# Zorn's lemma

## Mathematical proposition equivalent to the axiom of choice / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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**Zorn's lemma**, also known as the **Kuratowski–Zorn lemma**, is a proposition of set theory. It states that a partially ordered set containing upper bounds for every chain (that is, every totally ordered subset) necessarily contains at least one maximal element.

The lemma was proved (assuming the axiom of choice) by Kazimierz Kuratowski in 1922 and independently by Max Zorn in 1935.^{[2]} It occurs in the proofs of several theorems of crucial importance, for instance the Hahn–Banach theorem in functional analysis, the theorem that every vector space has a basis,^{[3]} Tychonoff's theorem in topology stating that every product of compact spaces is compact, and the theorems in abstract algebra that in a ring with identity every proper ideal is contained in a maximal ideal and that every field has an algebraic closure.^{[4]}

Zorn's lemma is equivalent to the well-ordering theorem and also to the axiom of choice, in the sense that within ZF (Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory without the axiom of choice) any one of the three is sufficient to prove the other two.^{[5]} An earlier formulation of Zorn's lemma is Hausdorff's maximum principle which states that every totally ordered subset of a given partially ordered set is contained in a maximal totally ordered subset of that partially ordered set.^{[6]}