Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In Steve Awodey's book on category theory, he claims the latter is a branch of abstract algebra. I've never seen such a classification before. Is this really correct?

share|improve this question
There is no real definition of what being "a branch of abstract algebra" means... –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Nov 5 '11 at 10:43
Check Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_theory –  HbCwiRoJDp Nov 5 '11 at 10:48
It seems that people who really focus on categorical type things (like Goodwillie calculus, brave new algebra, things like that) often get referred to as algebraists. –  Jon Beardsley Nov 5 '11 at 21:49
As I noted in my flag to moderators, I think this is a candidate for Community Wiki, rather than just a straight question; perhaps Rocco can edit it a bit and help garner reopen votes (I already cast mine). I do think this should not be a "regular question", though, but a CW. –  Arturo Magidin Nov 5 '11 at 22:22
+1 for Arturo's suggestion that the OP can edit the question a bit. –  Srivatsan Nov 5 '11 at 22:27

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

One could likewise argue that General Algebra (which encompasses groups, rings, lattices, and many other structures) is the study of a special class of categories, and so argue that General Algebra is a branch of Category Theory... (For example, George Bergman's General Algebra book is heavily category-theoretically flavored).

I would say rather that Category Theory has some very large areas of intersection with General/Abstract Algebra; I remember George Bergman saying once that in the 80s (?) there was a big conference at Berkeley/MSRI that invited both Universal Algebraists and Category Theorists, and that many times over the course of the conference they discovered that there were results that each "camp" had proven independently and did not realize the other "side" knew about them, or that there were questions that had been raised on the periphery of one whose answer was well-known by the other. (I hope I'm not misremembering and/or misreporting this!).

My particular (heavily algebra-biased) experience leads me to think that Category Theory is closer to abstract algebra than to other branches of pure mathematics (e.g., topology, analysis, etc). Don't know if I would go so far as to call it a "branch" of abstract algebra, though, any more than I would call it a branch of set theory (or set theory a branch of category theory).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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