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A partial order is any binary relation that is reflexive (each element is comparable to itself), antisymmetric (no two different elements precede each other), and transitive (the start of a chain of precedence relations must precede the end of the chain).
A partial order is “partial” because there can be two elements with no relation between them. For example, in the “divides” partial order on f1; 2; : : : ; 12g, there is no relation between 3 and 5 (since neither divides the other).