Let $\bf C$ be a category, $\mathcal S$ an (elementary) topos.

If $\mathcal S$ is a presheaf category over $\bf D$, then it's easy to see $[\mathbf C^{\rm op},\, \mathcal{S}] \cong [(\mathbf C \times \mathbf D)^{\rm op},\, \mathcal{Sets}]$ is still a topos. In more general situations I struggle to see an easy reason for it to be true as well. Thus:

When is the category $[\mathbf C^{\rm op},\, \mathcal S]$ of contravariant functors from $\bf C$ to $\mathcal S$ a topos?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ If $\mathcal{S}$ is a Grothendieck topos, or more generally has large enough disjoint universal coproduct you are always fine. But If $\mathcal{S}$ is an elementary topos in general it is not going to work, but I do not know if there are nice conditions under which it works. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2020 at 23:40
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ If $\mathbf C$ were an internal category in $\mathcal S$, then the category of internal $\mathcal S$-valued presheaves on $\mathbf C$ would be a topos. (This is surely in Johnstone's "Topos Theory".) I think the point of @SimonHenry's comment is that good coproducts let you regard any genuine small category as an internal category in $\mathcal S$. $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2020 at 0:09
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ That was indeed where I was going. But the question seem much more interesting that this observation: For example if the category C is a groupoid I think that S-valued presheaf will be an elementary topos without needing any assumption on S, so the general question definitely do not reduce to the case I was refering too. $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2020 at 0:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The category of $G$-sets for a large group $G$ is a cocomplete elementary topos but is not a Grothendieck topos. [1] $\endgroup$
    – Zhen Lin
    Jul 20, 2020 at 3:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ZhenLin good to see you again! Yes, that's definitely relevant, and that example generalises a lot to other special large limits of toposes. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts
    Jul 20, 2020 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


Rather than a full-fledged answer, this is a sketch of a plan:

As you yourself pointed out, if $\mathcal S=[\bf D^{\rm op},\, \mathcal \cal{Sets}] $, the result is trivial.

Now, suppose you consider an arbitrary elementary topos $\mathcal S$. The steps would be:

  1. Use the representation theorem of Joyal-Tierney to embed your target topos as the equivariant sheaves over a localic topos, see here.

    $E:\mathcal S \to Set^{\mathcal{L}^{op}}$

  2. Now each map $[\bf C^{\rm op},\, \mathcal S]$ composes with the embedding $E$ and thus lands into a localic topos.

  3. The last step would be to see how $[\bf C^{\rm op},\, E(\mathcal S)]$ sits inside $[\bf C^{\rm op},\, Set^{\mathcal{L}^{op}}]$.

Conjecture: under some some conditions (to be determined, but see this post When is a reflective subcategory of a topos a topos? ) there is a reflection which is sufficiently exact to ensure that it is indeed a subtopos of $[(\bf C \times \bf\mathcal{L})^{\rm op},\, \cal{Sets}]$


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.