# Questions tagged [category-theory]

Categories are structures containing objects and arrows between them. Many mathematical structures can be viewed as objects of a category, with structure preserving morphisms as arrows. Reformulating properties of mathematical objects in the general language of category can help one see connections between seemingly different areas of mathematics.

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### In (relatively) simple words: What is an inverse limit?

I am a set theorist in my orientation, and while I did take a few courses that brushed upon categorical and algebraic constructions, one has always eluded me. The inverse limit. I tried to ask one of ...
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### Is this really a categorical approach to integration?

Here's an article by Reinhard Börger I found recently whose title and content, prima facie, seem quite exciting to me, given my misadventures lately (like this and this); it's called, "A ...
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### Good books and lecture notes about category theory.

What are the best books and lecture notes on category theory?
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### Is there a categorical definition of submetry?

(Updated to include effective epimorphism.) This question is prompted by the recent discussion of why analysts don't use category theory. It demonstrates what happens when an analyst tries to use ...
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### What is category theory useful for?

Okay, so I understand what calculus, linear algebra, combinatorics and even topology try to answer (update: this is not the case in hindsight), but why invent category theory? In Wikipedia it says it ...
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### When to learn category theory?

I'm a undergraduate who wishes to learn category theory but I only have basic knowledge of linear algebra and set theory, I've also had a short course on number theory which used some basic concepts ...
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### Why don't analysts do category theory?

I'm a mathematics student in abstract algebra and algebraic geometry. Most of my books cover a great deal of category theory and it is an essential tool in understanding these two subjects. Recently, ...
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### In categorical terms, why is there no canonical isomorphism from a finite dimensional vector space to its dual?

I've read in several places that one motivation for category theory was to be able to give precise meaning to statements like, "finite dimensional vector spaces are canonically isomorphic to their ...
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### What is a universal property?

Sorry, but I do not understand the formal definition of "universal property" as given at Wikipedia. To make the following summary more readable I do equate "universal" with "initial" and omit the ...
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I am comfortable with the definition of adjoint functors. I have done a few exercises proving that certain pairs of functors are adjoint (tensor and hom, sheafification and forgetful, direct image and ...
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### Can someone explain the Yoneda Lemma to an applied mathematician?

I have trouble following the category-theoretic statement and proof of the Yoneda Lemma. Indeed, I followed a category theory course for 4-5 lectures (several years ago now) and felt like I understood ...
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What is your favourite adjoint? Following Mac Lane philosophy adjoints are everywhere, so I would like to draw a (possibly but unprobably) exhaustive list of adjunctions one faces in studying ...
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### Is it possible to formulate category theory without set theory?

I have never understood why set theory has so many detractors, or what is gained by avoiding its use. It is well known that the naive concept of a set as a collection of objects leads to logical ...
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### Abstract nonsense proof of snake lemma

During my studies, I always wanted to see a "purely category-theoretical" proof of the Snake Lemma, i.e. a proof that constructs all morphisms (including the snake) and proves exactness via universal ...
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### What use is the Yoneda lemma?

Although I know very little category theory, I really do find it a pretty branch of mathematics and consider it quite useful, especially when it comes to laying down definitions and unifying diverse ...
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### Why is it worth spending time on type theory?

Looking around there are three candidates for "foundations of mathematics": set theory category theory type theory There is a seminal paper relating these three topics: From Sets to Types to ...
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### What are exact sequences, metaphysically speaking?

Why is it natural or useful to organize objects (of some appropriate category) into exact sequences? Exact sequences are ubiquitous - and I've encountered them enough to know that they can provide a ...
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### Category-theoretic limit related to topological limit?

Is there any connection between category-theoretic term 'limit' (=universal cone) over diagram, and topological term 'limit point' of a sequence, function, net...? To be more precise, is there a ...
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### Why are (representations of ) quivers such a big deal?

Quivers are directed graphs where loops and multi-arrows are allowed. And we can talk about representations of quivers by assigning each vertex a vector space and each arrow a homomorphism. Moreover, ...
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### Was Grothendieck familiar with Stone's work on Boolean algebras?

In short, my question is: Was Grothendieck familiar with Stone's work on Boolean algebras? Background: In an answer to Pierre-Yves Gaillard's question Did Zariski really define the Zariski ...
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### Quotient objects, their universal property and the isomorphism theorems

This is a question that has been bothering me for quite a while. Let me put between quotation marks the terms that are used informally. "Quotient objects" are always the same. Take groups, abelian ...
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### Functions $f:\mathbb{N}\rightarrow \mathbb{Z}$ such that $\left(m-n\right) \mid \left(f(m)-f(n)\right)$

A long time back, I wondered what functions other than integer polynomials on $\mathbb{N}$ (or $\mathbb{Z}$) satisfied the property: $$\forall m,n: \left(m-n\right) \mid \left(f(m)-f(n)\right)$$ ...
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### Joke explanation: "a comathematician is a device for turning cotheorems into ffee"

Ok, so apparently there is an old joke (which I DO get) that says that in Hungary a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. I found a post by Qiaochu Yuan that has the following ...
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### Mnemonic for the fact that a right(left) adjoint functor preserves limits(colimits)

A right adjoint functor preserves limits. Dually a left adjoint functor preserves colimits. I often forget which is which. Of course, you can look up a book on category theory or use internet. But it'...
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### What does a proof in an internal logic actually look like?

The nLab has a lot of nice things to say about how you can use the internal logic of various kinds of categories to prove interesting statements using more or less ordinary mathematical reasoning. ...
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### Equivalent conditions for a preabelian category to be abelian

Let's fix some terminology first. A category $\mathcal{C}$ is preabelian if: 1) $Hom_{\mathcal{C}}(A,B)$ is an abelian group for every $A,B$ such that composition is biadditive, 2) $\mathcal{C}$ has ...
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### Why is the cartesian product so categorically robust?

The major "broad/natural" categories I encounter in daily life are: sets, groups, topological spaces, smooth manifolds, vector spaces over a fixed field $k$, $k$-schemes, rings, $A$-algebras for a ...
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### Why are algebraic structures preserved under intersection but not union?

In general, the intersection of subgroups/subrings/subfields/sub(vector)spaces will still be subgroups/subrings/subfields/sub(vector)spaces. However, the union will (generally) not be. Is there a "...
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### Are diffeomorphic smooth manifolds truly equivalent?

It seems to be an often repeated, "folklore-ish" statement, that diffeomorphism is an equivalence relation on smooth manifolds, and two smooth manifolds that are diffeomorphic are indistinguishable in ...
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### How to define Homology Functor in an arbitrary Abelian Category?

In the Category of Modules over a Ring, the i-th Homology of a Chain Complex is defined as the Quotient Ker d / Im d where d as usual denotes the differentials, indexes skipped for simplicity. How ...
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### Category Theory and Lebesgue Integration.

I'm wondering if there's any Category Theory floating around in the theory of Lebesgue Integration. To avoid things becoming too broad, let's keep this focused on the basics. Here's how I see the ...
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### What are some of the major open problems in category theory?

What are some of the major open problems in category theory? Just curious - I'm interested in category theory.
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### What's the deal with empty models in first-order logic?

Asaf's answer here reminded me of something that should have been bothering me ever since I learned about it, but which I had more or less forgotten about. In first-order logic, there is a convention ...
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### Can it happen that the image of a functor is not a category?

On Hilton and Stammbach's homological algebra book, end of chap. 2, they wrote in general $F(\mathfrak{C})$ is not a category at all in general. But I don't quite get it. I checked the axioms of a ...
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### Why do we look at morphisms?

I am reading some lecture notes and in one paragraph there is the following motivation: "The best way to study spaces with a structure is usually to look at the maps between them preserving structure (...
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### Grothendieck's yoga of six operations - in relatively basic terms?

I'm reading about the basic interactions between sheaves over topological spaces and arrows in $\mathsf{Top}$, in particular, about the inverse/direct image functors $f^\ast \dashv f_\ast$, the proper ...
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