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I am trying to delve into category theory but my math background is quite limited.

What books would be recommended to get me up to speed with what is needed to grasp the concepts?

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It would help if you were specific, both on your background and on what parts of category theory you are interested in (what is your motivation?) – Thomas Andrews Oct 10 '12 at 19:52
It helps to have a high familiarity with lots of different categories going in. Learning category theory without concrete examples to motivate is hard/weird. So in that vein, I would praise the decision to learn the 'chapter 0-1 basics' of a whole slew of different subjects: linear and commutative algebra, group/ring/field theory (abstract algebra in general), order theory, general topology, differential geometry, and algebraic topology would be a perfect array of topics. Essentially, get to know what structured objects and maps these subjects study. – anon Oct 10 '12 at 20:18
This is perfect, thank you. – eigen_enthused Oct 10 '12 at 22:07
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I can suggest is Steve Awodey's Category Theory. It is quite readable, and aimed at perhaps a much broader audience than most introductory texts in category theory. Though a little "mathematical maturity" is still useful when going through some of the examples.

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Absolutely fantastic recommendation. I am in one of the groups Awodey mentions in his preface, and would be absolutely lost in a book like Mac Lane's. This was a great find for me. – Dennis Jul 30 '13 at 6:20

You can start with Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories by Lawvere and Schanuel and then read Sets for Mathematics by Lawvere and Rosebrugh. You can do so without any mathematical background, but for the second book, a little mathematical maturity would help a lot.

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I think some mathematical maturity is need for reading Conceptual Mathematics as well. Despite the glowing Amazon reviews recommending this book to high-school students, I can't see 99.8% of the high-school students grokking the categorical version of Cantor's theorem as it's presented in Conceptual Mathematics, to pick one example. Granted, that's toward the end of the book but still... – Fizz Apr 13 '15 at 9:27

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