I am currently studying Differential Topology and I've noticed that commutative diagrams keep on popping up over and over.

An example is the following snippet from Topology from the Differential Viewpoint by Milnor :

enter image description here

All I know about commutative diagrams at the moment is that that they originate in Category Theory, however looking up introductory texts on Category Theory do not give a good definition of Commutative Diagrams, and hence I have no idea how they are used.

Where can I learn the necessary Category Theory on commutative diagrams to be able to understand such arguments used in Differential Topology?


A commutative diagram is nothing but a way to state briefly and visually that certain compositions of functions are equal. There is absolutely nothing more to them than that.

  • $\begingroup$ In particular, you do not need absolutely any category theory to understand "such arguments", for "such arguments" are nothing but statements that two compositions of functions are equal. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez May 14 '17 at 20:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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