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Questions tagged [ct.category-theory]

Categories and functors, universal properties, algebras and algebraic theories, topoi, enriched and internal categories, structured categories (abelian, monoidal, etc), higher categories.

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Is there an introduction to probability theory from a structuralist/categorical perspective?

The title really is the question, but allow me to explain. I am a pure mathematician working outside of probability theory, but the concepts and techniques of probability theory (in the sense of ...
127
votes
10answers
11k views

What non-categorical applications are there of homotopical algebra?

(To be honest, I actually mean something more general than 'homotopical algebra' - topos theory, $\infty$-categories, operads, anything that sounds like its natural home would be on the nLab.) More ...
96
votes
11answers
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“Philosophical” meaning of the Yoneda Lemma

The Yoneda Lemma is a simple result of category theory, and its proof is very straightforward. Yet I feel like I do not truly understand what it is about; I have seen a few comments here mentioning ...
85
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11answers
8k views

Why do Groups and Abelian Groups feel so different?

Groups are naturally "the symmetries of an object". To me, the group axioms are just a way of codifying what the symmetries of an object can be so we can study it abstractly. However, this heuristic ...
78
votes
9answers
28k views

Is Mac Lane still the best place to learn category theory?

For a student embarking on a study of algebraic topology, requiring a knowledge of basic category theory, with a long-term view toward higher/stable/derived category theory, ... Is Mac Lane still ...
76
votes
10answers
11k views

How do I check if a functor has a (left/right) adjoint?

Because adjoint functors are just cool, and knowing that a pair of functors is an adjoint pair gives you a bunch of information from generalized abstract nonsense, I often find myself saying, "Hey, ...
76
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1answer
4k views

Are there non-scalar endomorphisms of the functor $V\mapsto V^{**}/V$?

Let $K$ be a field. Are there non-scalar endomorphisms of the endofunctor $$ V\mapsto V^{**}/V $$ of the category of $K$-vector spaces? I asked a related question on Mathematics Stackexchange, but ...
73
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5answers
11k views

Has incorrect notation ever led to a mistaken proof?

In mathematics we introduce many different kinds of notation, and sometimes even a single object or construction can be represented by many different notations. To take two very different examples, ...
73
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7answers
6k views

When does Cantor-Bernstein hold?

The Cantor-Bernstein theorem in the category of sets (A injects in B, B injects in A => A, B equivalent) holds in other categories such as vector spaces, compact metric spaces, Noetherian topological ...
71
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13answers
20k views

Most striking applications of category theory?

What are the most striking applications of category theory? I'm trying to motivate deeper study of category theory and I have only come across the following significant examples: Joyal's ...
70
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9answers
5k views

What are some examples of interesting uses of the theory of combinatorial species?

This is a question I've asked myself a couple of times before, but its appearance on MO is somewhat motivated by this thread, and sigfpe's comment to Pete Clark's answer. I've often heard it claimed ...
69
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5answers
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When the automorphism group of an object determines the object

Let me start with three examples to illustrate my question (probably vague; I apologize in advance). $\mathbf{Man}$, the category of closed (compact without boundary) topological manifold. For any $M,...
66
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13answers
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Why is Set, and not Rel, so ubiquitous in mathematics?

The concept of relation in the history of mathematics, either consciously or not, has always been important: think of order relations or equivalence relations. Why was there the necessity of singling ...
66
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5answers
4k views

Rigidity of the category of schemes

Call a category $C$ rigid if every equivalence $C \to C$ is isomorphic to the identity. I don't know if this is standard terminology. Many of the usual algebraic categories are rigid, for example sets,...
63
votes
6answers
4k views

whence commutative diagrams?

It seems that commutative diagrams appeared sometime in the late 1940s -- for example, Eilenberg-McLane (1943) group cohomology paper does not have any, while the 1953 Hochschild-Serre paper does. ...
63
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4answers
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Can the Lawvere fixed point theorem be used to prove the Brouwer fixed point theorem?

The Lawvere fixed point theorem asserts that if $X, Y$ are objects in a category with finite products such that the exponential $Y^X$ exists, and if $f : X \to Y^X$ is a morphism which is surjective ...
62
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9answers
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Relating Category Theory to Programming Language Theory

I'm wondering what the relation of category theory to programming language theory is. I've been reading some books on category theory and topos theory, but if someone happens to know what the ...
62
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1answer
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Derived Functors Versus Spectral Sequences

Let $A{\buildrel F\over\rightarrow}B{\buildrel G\over\rightarrow}C$ be additive functors between abelian categories. Hartshorne, in Proposition 5.4 of Residues and Duality, constructs the obvious ...
62
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3answers
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Does linearization of categories reflect isomorphism?

Given a category $C$ and a commutative ring $R$, denote by $RC$ the $R$-linearization: this is the category enriched over $R$-modules which has the same objects as $C$, but the morphism module between ...
61
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5answers
9k views

Why higher category theory?

This is a soft question. I am an undergrad and is currently seriously considering the field of math I am going into in grad school. (perhaps a little bit late, but it's better late then never.) I ...
61
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4answers
4k views

Is there an accepted definition of $(\infty,\infty)$ category?

For probably twenty years, category theorists have known of some objects in the Platonic universe called "(weak) $\infty$-categories", in which there are $k$-morphisms for all $k\in \mathbb N$, with ...
56
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11answers
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What precisely Is “Categorification”?

(And what's it good for.) Related MO questions (with some very nice answers): examples-of-categorification; can-we-categorify-the-equation $(1-t)(1+t+t^2+\dots)=1$?; categorification-request.
55
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28answers
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Examples where it's useful to know that a mathematical object belongs to some family of objects

For an expository piece I'm writing, it would be useful to have good examples of the following phenomenon: (1) ${\cal X}$ is a parameterized family of somethings. (Varieties, schemes, manifolds, ...
55
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4answers
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Why did Voevodsky consider categories “posets in the next dimension”, and groupoids the correct generalisation of sets?

Earlier today, I stumbled upon this article written by V. Voevodsky about the "philosophy" behind the Univalent Foundations program. I had read it before around the time of his passing, and one ...
55
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1answer
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History: What was the Lemma? (Grothendieck Harvard Lectures; Mumford)

In an article about the life of Grothendieck, available here: http://www.ams.org/notices/200409/fea-grothendieck-part1.pdf Allyn Jackson writes about how Mumford was profoundly impressed: Mumford ...
54
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7answers
8k views

The main theorems of category theory and their applications

This question first arose as I wrote an answer for the question: Is there a nice application of category theory to functional/complex/harmonic analysis?; it can also be regarded as a (hopefully) more ...
52
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15answers
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Is there a nice application of category theory to functional/complex/harmonic analysis?

[Title changed, and wording of question tweaked, by YC, because the original title asked a question which seems different from the one people want to answer.] I've read looked at the examples in most ...
51
votes
5answers
10k views

What is an intuitive view of adjoints? (version 1: category theory)

In trying to think of an intuitive answer to a question on adjoints, I realised that I didn't have a nice conceptual understanding of what an adjoint pair actually is. I know the definition (several ...
51
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5answers
4k views

A bestiary of topologies on Sch

The category of schemes has a large (and to me, slightly bewildering) number of what seem like different Grothendieck (pre)topologies. Zariski, ok, I get. Etale, that's alright, I think. Nisnevich? ...
50
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10answers
8k views

How should a “working mathematician” think about sets? (ZFC, category theory, urelements)

Note that "a working mathematician" is probably not the best choice of words, it's supposed to mean "someone who needs the theory for applications rather than for its own sake". Think about it as a ...
50
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0answers
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Dualizing the Notion of Topological Space

$\require{AMScd}$ Defining a topological space on a set $X$ is equivalent to designating certain subobjects of $X$ in ${\bf Set}$ (monomorphisms into $X$ up to equivalence) as open. The requirements ...
49
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22answers
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What's a groupoid? What's a good example of a groupoid? [closed]

Or more specifically, why do people get so excited about them? And what's your favorite easy example of one, which illustrates why I should care (and is not a group)?
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13answers
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Example of an unnatural isomorphism

Can anyone give an example of an unnatural isomorphism? Or, maybe, somebody can explain why unnatural isomorphisms do not exist. Consider two functors $F,G: {\mathcal C} \rightarrow {\mathcal D}$. We ...
48
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6answers
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Are dagger categories truly evil?

Recall that a dagger category is a category equipped with an involution $*:Hom(x,y)\to Hom(y,x)$ that satisfies $f^{**}=f$ and $f^* g^*=(gf)^*$. A prominent example of a dagger category is the ...
48
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6answers
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What is Yoneda's Lemma a generalization of?

What is Yoneda's Lemma a generalization of? I am looking for examples that were known before category theory entered the stage resp. can be known by students before they start with category theory. ...
47
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17answers
4k views

Equality vs. isomorphism vs. specific isomorphism

This question prompted a reformulation: What is a really good example of a situation where keeping track of isomorphisms leads to tangible benefit? I believe this to be a serious question because ...
47
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4answers
5k views

Does “finitely presented” mean “always finitely presented”? (Answered: Yes!)

Precisely, if an R-module M has a finite presentation, and Rk → M is some unrelated surjection (k finite), is the kernel necessarily also finitely generated? Basically I want to believe I can ...
47
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8answers
5k views

Natural transformations as categorical homotopies

Every text book I've ever read about Category Theory gives the definition of natural transformation as a collection of morphisms which make the well known diagrams commute. There is another possible ...
47
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7answers
4k views

Is the ultraproduct concept fundamentally category-theoretic?

Once again, I would like to take advantage of the large number of knowledgable category theorists on this site for a question I have about category-theoretic aspects of a fundamental logic concept. ...
47
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2answers
7k views

Is there a category structure one can place on measure spaces so that category-theoretic products exist?

The usual category of measure spaces consists of objects $(X, \mathcal{B}_X, \mu_X)$, where $X$ is a space, $\mathcal{B}_X$ is a $\sigma$-algebra on $X$, and $\mu_X$ is a measure on $X$, and measure ...
47
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2answers
7k views

Lawvere's “Some thoughts on the future of category theory.”

In Lecture Notes in Mathematics 1488, Lawvere writes the introduction to the Proceedings for a 1990 conference in Como. In this article, Lawvere, the inventor of Toposes and Algebraic Theories, ...
46
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3answers
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What are the benefits of viewing a sheaf from the “espace étalé” perspective?

I learned the definition of a sheaf from Hartshorne---that is, as a (co-)functor from the category of open sets of a topological space (with morphisms given by inclusions) to, say, the category of ...
46
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2answers
4k views

Why do filtered colimits commute with finite limits?

It's not hard to show that this is true in the category Set, and proofs have been written down in many places. But all the ones I know are a bit fiddly. Question 1: is there a soft proof of this fact?...
46
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0answers
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What did Gelfand mean by suggesting to study “Heredity Principle” structures instead of categories?

Israel Gelfand wrote in his remarkable talk "Mathematics as an adequate language (a few remarks)", given at "The Unity of Mathematics" Conference in honor of his 90th birthday, the following ...
45
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3answers
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What is Koszul duality?

Okay, let's make sure I'm on the same page with those who know homological algebra. What is Koszul duality in general? What does it mean that categories are Koszul dual (I guess representations of ...
45
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3answers
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Duality between Compactness and Hausdorffness

Consider a non-empty set $X$ and its complete lattice of topologies (see also this thread). The discrete topology is Hausdorff. Every topology that is finer than a Hausdorff topology is also ...
45
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6answers
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Synthetic vs. classical differential geometry

To provide context, I'm a differential geometry grad student from a physics background. I know some category theory (at the level of Simmons) and differential and Riemannian geometry (at the level of ...
44
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2answers
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Which colimits commute with which limits in the category of sets?

Given two categories $I$ and $J$ we say that colimits of shape $I$ commute with limits of shape $J$ in the category of sets, if for any functor $F : I \times J \to \text{Set}$ the canonical map $$\...
43
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2answers
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The formal p-adic numbers

The real numbers can be defined in two ways (well, more than two, but let's stick to these for now): as the Cauchy completion of the metric space $\mathbb{Q}$ with its usual absolute value, or as the ...
42
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3answers
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Why is there no Cayley's Theorem for rings?

Cayley's theorem makes groups nice: a closed set of bijections is a group and a group is a closed set of bijections- beautiful, natural and understandable canonically as symmetry. It is not so much a ...