The notation is analogous with that for an inverse function. Although many functions do not have an inverse, every relation does have a unique converse. The unary operation that maps a relation to the converse relation is an involution, so it induces the structure of a semigroup with involution on the binary relations on a set, or, more generally, induces a dagger category on the category of relations as detailed below. As a unary operation, taking the converse (sometimes called conversion or transposition) commutes with the order-related operations of the calculus of relations, that is it commutes with union, intersection, and complement.
Since one may generally consider relations between different sets (which form a category rather than a monoid, namely the category of relations Rel), in this context the converse relation conforms to the axioms of a dagger category (aka category with involution). A relation equal to its converse is a symmetric relation; in the language of dagger categories, it is self-adjoint.
Furthermore, the semigroup of endorelations on a set is also a partially ordered structure (with inclusion of relations as sets), and actually an involutive quantale. Similarly, the category of heterogeneous relations, Rel is also an ordered category.
In the calculus of relations, conversion (the unary operation of taking the converse relation) commutes with other binary operations of union and intersection. Conversion also commutes with unary operation of complementation as well as with taking suprema and infima. Conversion is also compatible with the ordering of relations by inclusion.
If a relation is reflexive, irreflexive, symmetric, antisymmetric, asymmetric, transitive, connected, trichotomous, a partial order, total order, strict weak order, total preorder (weak order), or an equivalence relation, its converse is too.