I've been told that it's important to know modern physics, Differential Geometry and Algebraic Topology for understanding higher structures. Is there any other prerequisite for understanding Lurie's work? Since the title of the book indicates, I guess Algebraic Geometry is also important. Please tell me if I'm wrong. Moreover how deep should I known on those subjects and others I do not mention?

  • 33
    $\begingroup$ I don't understand any of Lurie's work, but the advice you've been given is awfully broad. Differential Geometry and Algebraic Topology are very broad subjects, including many subfields. Any useful advice should include at least "...on the level of (insert book here)". And "modern physics"? I hope an understanding on how to build experiments with atto-second lasers (for example) is not necessary to read Lurie's work. $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2011 at 10:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I believe his second book is called "Higher Algebra". See math.harvard.edu/~lurie $\endgroup$
    – S. Carnahan
    Sep 6, 2011 at 10:39
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Heavy use of simplicial language and homotopy theory are the things that limit my ability to understand the stuff :). Modern physics and curvature tensors probably not so much. $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2011 at 11:41
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Jacob Lurie mentions the prerequisites in the intros of his books. On the other hand it is great that he answers here directly. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2011 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


To read Higher Topos Theory, you'll need familiarity with ordinary category theory and with the homotopy theory of simplicial sets (Peter May's book "Simplicial Objects in Algebraic Topology" is a good place to learn the latter). Other topics (such as classical topos theory) will be helpful for motivation.

To read "Higher Algebra", you'll need the above and familiarity with parts of "Higher Topos Theory". Several other topics (stable homotopy theory, the theory of operads) will be helpful for motivation.

To read the papers "Derived Algebraic Geometry ???", you need all of the above plus familiarity with Grothendieck's theory of schemes, along with some more recent ideas in algebraic geometry (stacks, etcetera).

Since no knowledge of modern physics was required to write any of these books and papers, I can't imagine that you need any such knowledge to read them.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much. You have recommended J.P. May's "Simplicial Objects in Algebraic Topology" for the homotopy theory of simplicial sets, would you like to recommend some other specific books to read before reading your books? $\endgroup$
    – Chuang
    Sep 6, 2011 at 15:26
  • 31
    $\begingroup$ "Sheaves in Geometry and Logic" by Moerdijk and MacLane is a pretty good read (as is Uncle John, but I've never seen topos theory in there). $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2011 at 23:35
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm usually pretty up on my math in-jokes, but I've never heard of Uncle John's bathroom reader. Can anyone enlighten me? $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2011 at 5:16
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_John%27s_Bathroom_Reader $\endgroup$
    – algori
    Sep 9, 2011 at 0:54
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Dear prof Lurie I am reading your works and after reading Higher Topoi I would be delighted to start your book on Higher Algebra posted on your website, very interesting for my research focused on HoTT and Set Theory. Can I ask you to post or send a version with expanded font size (12 or better 14) since it is very difficult for me to read it with the actual small font size? Thank you in advance Best regards Giovanni $\endgroup$
    – user67032
    Feb 12, 2015 at 11:29

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.