Definition:Ordinal/Definition 3

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An ordinal is a strictly well-ordered set $\struct {\alpha, \prec}$ such that:

$\forall \beta \in \alpha: \alpha_\beta = \beta$

where $\alpha_\beta$ is the initial segment of $\alpha$ determined by $\beta$:

$\alpha_\beta = \set {x \in \alpha: x \prec \beta}$


The class of all ordinals can be found denoted $\On$.

In order to indicate that a set $S$ is an ordinal, this notation is often seen:

$\Ord S$

whose meaning is:

$S$ is an ordinal.

Thus $\operatorname {Ord}$ can be used as a propositional function whose domain is the class of all sets.

A tradition has grown up in set theory to use lowercase Greek letters $\alpha, \ \beta, \ \gamma, \ldots$ as symbols to represent variables over ordinals.

It is also customary to denote the ordering relation between ordinals as $\le$ rather than $\subseteq$ or $\preceq$.

Also known as

An ordinal is also known as an ordinal number.

For a given well-ordered set $\struct {S, \preceq}$, the expression:

$\map {\mathrm {Ord} } S$

can be used to denote the unique ordinal which is order isomorphic to $\struct {S, \preceq}$.

Also see

  • Results about ordinals can be found here.