For any sets and , their cardinal numbers satisfy iff there is a one-to-one function from into (Rubin 1967, p. 266; Suppes 1972, pp. 94 and 116). It is easy to show this satisfies the reflexive and transitive axioms of a partial order. However, it is difficult to show the antisymmetry property, whose proof is known as the Schröder-Bernstein theorem. To show the trichotomy property, one must use the axiom of choice.

Although an order type can be defined similarly, it does not seem usual to do so.