

Applications of Ultrafilter

* Ultrafilters on sets are useful in topology, especially in relation to compact Hausdorff spaces, and in model theory in the construction of ultraproducts and ultrapowers. Every ultrafilter on a compact Hausdorff space converges to exactly one point. Likewise, ultrafilters on posets are most important if the poset is a Boolean algebra, since in this case the ultrafilters coincide with the prime filters. Ultrafilters in this form play a central role in Stone's representation theorem for Boolean algebras. 
* The set G of all ultrafilters of a poset P can be topologized in a natural way, that is in fact closely related to the abovementioned representation theorem. For any element a of P, let Da = {U ∈ G  a ∈ U}. This is most useful when P is again a Boolean algebra, since in this situation the set of all Da is a base for a compact Hausdorff topology on G. Especially, when considering the ultrafilters on a set S (i.e., the case that P is the powerset of S ordered via subset inclusion), the resulting topological space is the Stone–?ech compactification of a discrete space of cardinality S. 
* The ultraproduct construction in model theory uses ultrafilters to produce elementary extensions of structures. For example, in constructing hyperreal numbers as an ultraproduct of the real numbers, we first extend the domain of discourse from the real numbers to sequences of real numbers. This sequence space is regarded as a superset of the reals by identifying each real with the corresponding constant sequence. To extend the familiar functions and relations (e.g., + and <) from the reals to the hyperreals, the natural idea is to define them pointwise. But this would lose important logical properties of the reals; for example, pointwise < is not a total ordering. So instead we define the functions and relations "pointwise modulo U", where U is an ultrafilter on the index set of the sequences; by ?o?' theorem, this preserves all properties of the reals that can be stated in firstorder logic. If U is nonprincipal, then the extension thereby obtained is nontrivial. 
*In geometric group theory, nonprincipal ultrafilters are used to define the asymptotic cone of a group. This construction yields a rigorous way to consider looking at the group from infinity, that is the large scale geometry of the group. Asymptotic cones are particular examples of ultralimits of metric spaces.
G?del's ontological proof of God's existence uses as an axiom that the set of all "positive properties" is an ultrafilter. 
* In social choice theory, nonprincipal ultrafilters are used to define a rule (called a social welfare function) for aggregating the preferences of infinitely many individuals. Contrary to Arrow's impossibility theorem for finitely many individuals, such a rule satisfies the conditions (properties) that Arrow proposes (e.g., Kirman and Sondermann, 1972[3]). Mihara (1997,[4] 1999[5]) shows, however, such rules are practically of limited interest to social scientists, since they are nonalgorithmic or noncomputable. 
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