I was just working through some exercises in "Categories and Sheaves" by Kashiwara-Schapira, and encountered some problems with exercise 3.6 , on pg. 91.

Notation / Terminology

  • $C^\wedge $ denotes the category of presheaves on C, i.e functors $C^{op}$ to Set.

  • A category is idempotent complete if every morphism $q:X \rightarrow X$ satisfying $$q^2= q $$ factors as $q=g \circ f$ with $f:X \rightarrow Y$ an epimorphism and $g:Y \rightarrow X$ a monomorphism.

  • A functor $F:C \rightarrow C'$ is left-exact if the following category is co-filtered: The category $C^U$, with objects morphisms $f:U \rightarrow F(X)$ for $X \in C$, $f \in Hom_C(U,F(X)$ and morphisms between $f:U \rightarrow F(X)$ and $g:U \rightarrow F(Y)$ consists of $h \in Hom_C(X,Y)$ such that $g = F(h) \circ f$.


Assume that C is idempotent complete. Prove that the Yoneda Functor $h_c:C \rightarrow C^\wedge$ is left-exact if andonly if C admits finite projective limits.

OK, my strategy is to prove that C has a terminal object, finite products, and kernels. I have managed to prove that it has a terminal object, by considering the terminal functor of $C^op \rightarrow Set$. However, I haven't been able to show that it admits product, or kernels. Anyone got any ideas on how this can be done? Any hint, solutions, whatever are welcome. Thanks!


Let me first note that what Kashiwara and Schapira call "left exact" is a considerably stronger condition than what most people think of, namely, the preservation of finite limits. The Yoneda embedding is always left exact in this weaker sense – in fact, it preserves all limits than exist in $\mathcal{C}$. (This is an easy exercise and amounts to unwinding definitions.) We will need to make use of this fact.

For clarity, let me call a functor that is left exact in the strong sense "representably flat".

Theorem. Suppose all idempotents in $\mathcal{C}$ split. Then, the Yoneda embedding is representably flat if and only if $\mathcal{C}$ has all finite limits.

Proof. First, assume $\mathcal{C}$ has all finite limits. Let $P$ be any presheaf on $\mathcal{C}$. Recalling that a category with all finite limits is automatically cofiltered, to show that $(P \downarrow H_\bullet)$ is cofiltered, it is enough to show that it has all finite limits. But $H_\bullet$ preserves finite limits and the forgetful functor $(P \downarrow H_\bullet) \to \hat{\mathcal{C}}$ creates them, thus, $(P \downarrow H_\bullet)$ is indeed cofiltered. (This can also be shown by hand using elementary methods.)

Conversely, suppose the Yoneda embedding is representably flat. To show that $\mathcal{C}$ has a terminal object, consider the cofiltered category $(1 \downarrow H_\bullet)$. It is non-empty, so there is a morphism $1 \to H_c$. By unwinding definitions, this means we have a morphism $f_d : d \to c$ for each object $d$ in $\mathcal{C}$ such that $f_d \circ k = f_{d'}$ for all morphisms $k : d' \to d$ in $\mathcal{C}$. In particular, $f_c : c \to c$ must be idempotent and splits as $f_c = s \circ r$ for some $r : c \to e$, $s : e \to c$ such that $r \circ s = \textrm{id}_e$. Notice that we have a morphism $d \to e$ for any $d$, namely $r \circ f_d$. But for any other $g : d \to e$, we must have $$f_d = f_c \circ s \circ g = s \circ r \circ s \circ g = s \circ g$$ and therefore $r \circ f_d = g$ for all $g : d \to e$; hence $e$ is a terminal object of $\mathcal{C}$.

Now, let $x$ and $y$ be any two objects of $\mathcal{C}$. To show that $x \times y$ exists in $\mathcal{C}$, we consider the cofiltered category $(H_x \times H_y \downarrow H_\bullet)$. We already know this is a non-empty category because we have the two projections $\pi_1 : H_x \times H_y \to H_x$ and $\pi_2 : H_x \times H_y \to H_y$, but since it is cofiltered, we also get a morphism $f : H_x \times H_y \to H_c$ and morphisms $p_1 : c \to x$, $p_2 : c \to y$ such that $H_{p_1} \circ f = \pi_1$ and $H_{p_2} \circ f = \pi_2$. Unwinding definitions, this means for every pair $g : d \to x$, $h : d \to y$, there is a morphism $f(g, h) : d \to c$ such that $p_1 \circ f(g, h) = g$ and $p_2 \circ f(g, h) = h$. Moreover, for any $k : d' \to d$, we have $f(g, h) \circ k = f(g \circ k, h \circ k)$. In particular, $$f(p_1, p_2) \circ f(p_1, p_2) = f(p_1 \circ f(p_1, p_2), p_2 \circ f(p_1, p_2)) = f(p_1, p_2)$$ so $f(p_1, p_2) : c \to c$ is idempotent. Suppose $f(p_1, p_2) = s \circ r$ is a splitting, where $r : c \to e$ satisfies $r \circ s = \textrm{id}_e$. I claim $e$ is the product of $x$ and $y$ in $\mathcal{C}$, with projections given by $p_1 \circ s$ and $p_2 \circ s$. Indeed, suppose $\ell : d \to e$ is any morphism such that $p_1 \circ s \circ \ell = g$ and $p_2 \circ s \circ \ell = h$. Then, $$r \circ f(g, h) = r \circ f(p_1 \circ s \circ \ell, p_2 \circ s \circ \ell) = r \circ f(p_1, p_2) \circ s \circ \ell = r \circ s \circ r \circ s \circ \ell = \ell$$ as required for a product.

Finally, let $g, h : x \to y$ be any two morphisms of $\mathcal{C}$. To show that the equaliser of $g$ and $g$ exists in $\mathcal{C}$, we consider the cofiltered category $(E \downarrow H_\bullet)$, where $E$ is the equaliser of $H_g, H_h : H_x \to H_y$ in $\mathcal{C}$. Since the category is cofiltered, there exists a morphism $f : E \to H_c$ and a morphism $i : c \to x$ such that $H_i \circ f$ is the canonical inclusion $E \to H_x$ and $g \circ i = h \circ i$. Unwinding definitions, this means for any two morphisms $j : d \to x$ such that $g \circ j = h \circ j$, there exists a morphism $f(j) : d \to c$ such that $i \circ f(j) = j$, and for any morphism $k : d' \to d$, we have $f(j \circ k) = f(j) \circ k$. Therefore, $$f(i) \circ f(i) = f(i \circ f(i)) = f(i)$$ and we can split $f(i)$ as $s \circ r$ for some split epimorphism $r : c \to e$. By this point it should be clear that $e$ is the equaliser of $g$ and $h$ in $\mathcal{C}$. Let us check that it works. Given any $\ell : d \to e$ such that $i \circ s \circ \ell = j$, we must have $$r \circ f(j) = r \circ f(i \circ s \circ \ell) = r \circ f(i) \circ s \circ \ell = \ell$$ and so $e$ is indeed the equaliser of $g$ and $h$, with canonical inclusion $i \circ s$. ◼


Below, I use words “predecessor/successor” so that “a limit ℓ of a diagram ⅅ is a successor of any predecessor of ⅅ”. Predecessors of ⅅ form a category ℘, and ℓ is the terminal object in ℘. In particular, this gives the first statement of:

  • If there is an arrow ℓ → c in ℘, then ℓ is the limit(=colimit) of an idempotent in Mor c.
  • In a cofiltered category, any finite diagram has a predecessor. (By definition!)
  • Successors of ℓ contain the diagram ⅅ.


  • if ⅅ is finite, and
  • successors of ℓ lying in a certain full subcategory ℭ form a cofiltered category, and
  • ℭ contains ⅅ,

then a c∈ℭ as above exists. (This is just a rework of what Zhen Lin said about “⇒”; and “⇐” is Prop.3.3.2.)


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