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Diagonals and Block-Ordered Relations

Roland BackhouseEd Voermans
Jan 2024
More than 70 years ago, Jaques Riguet suggested the existence of an ``analogie frappante'' (striking analogy) between so-called ``relations de Ferrers'' and a class of difunctional relations, members of which we call ``diagonals''. Inspired by his suggestion, we formulate an ``analogie frappante'' linking the notion of a block-ordered relation and the notion of the diagonal of a relation. We formulate several novel properties of the core/index of a diagonal, and use these properties to rephrase our ``analogie frappante''. Loosely speaking, we show that a block-ordered relation is a provisional ordering up to isomorphism and reduction to its core. (Our theorems make this informal statement precise.) Unlike Riguet (and others who follow his example), we avoid almost entirely the use of nested complements to express and reason about properties of these notions: we use factors (aka residuals) instead. The only (and inevitable) exception to this is to show that our definition of a ``staircase'' relation is equivalent to Riguet's definition of a ``relation de Ferrers''. Our ``analogie frappante'' also makes it obvious that a ``staircase'' relation is not necessarily block-ordered, in spite of the mental picture of such a relation presented by Riguet.
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