I recently read about Galois connections, and that they show up in a lot of different places in mathematics. Given there apparent ubiquity, I thought they might have a rich theory. However, when asking other people in my department, I got varying answers as to why they were not particularly interesting and/or were not worth studying. It is hard to tell if this is due to a bias or whether there could be an objective argument made as to why mathematicians invest a lot of effort in characterizing and classifying one class of objects such as groups or topological spaces and not another.

I am interested in answers that either address the particular theory of Galois connections (and possibly arguing that they are in fact worth studying) or attempt to give a general criteria for what makes a good mathematical theory.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Read the 3 books by Henri Poincaré gathered into a single volume : "The Foundations of Science: Science and Hypothesis, The Value of Science, Science and Method". Even written 120 years ago, they are still very enlightning. $\endgroup$ – Jean Marie Apr 6 at 15:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Galois connections are very much studied, at least by category theorists under the name "adjunction" $\endgroup$ – Max Apr 6 at 15:34

A general answer which does not consider Galois conenctions:

See Terrence Tao's: What is good Mathematics.

Also from General Topology (Kelley pg 111):

The development of general topology has followed an evolutionary patttern which occurs frequently in mathematics. One begins by observing similarities and recurring arguments in several situations which superficially seem to bear little resemblance to each other. We then attempt to isolate the concepts and methods which are common to the various examples, and if the analysis has been sufficiently penetrating we may find a theory containing many or all of our examples, which in itself seems worthy of study. It is in precisely this way, after much experimentation, that the notion of a topological space was developed. It is a natural product of a continuing consolidation, abstraction and extension process. Each such abstraction, if it is to contain the examples from which it was derived in more than a formal way, must be tested to find whether we have really found the central ideas involved. This testing is usually done by comparing the abstractly constructed object with the objects from which it is derived. In this case we want to find whether a topological space, at least under some reasonable restrictions, must necessarily be one of the particular concrete spaces from which the notion is derived. The "standard'' examples with which we compare spaces are cartesian products of unit intervals and metric spaces.


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.