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Category# Category theory

Summary

Category theory is a general theory of mathematical structures and their relations that was introduced by Samuel Eilenberg and Saunders Mac Lane in the middle of the 20th century in their foundational work on algebraic topology. Category theory is used in almost all areas of mathematics. In particular, numerous constructions of new mathematical objects from previous ones that appear similarly in several contexts are conveniently expressed and unified in terms of categories. Examples include quotient spaces, direct products, completion, and duality.
Many areas of computer science also rely on category theory, such as functional programming and semantics.
A is formed by two sorts of objects: the s of the category, and the morphisms, which relate two objects called the source and the target of the morphism. One often says that a morphism is an arrow that maps its source to its target. Morphisms can be composed if the target of the first morphism equals the source of the second one, and morphism composition has similar properties as function composition (associativity and existence of identity morphisms). Morphisms are often some sort of function, but this is not always the case. For example, a monoid may be viewed as a category with a single object, whose morphisms are the elements of the monoid.
The second fundamental concept of category theory is the concept of a functor, which plays the role of a morphism between two categories and it maps objects of to objects of and morphisms of to morphisms of in such a way that sources are mapped to sources and targets are mapped to targets (or, in the case of a contravariant functor, sources are mapped to targets and vice-versa). A third fundamental concept is a natural transformation that may be viewed as a morphism of functors.
Category (mathematics) and Morphism
A category C consists of the following three mathematical entities:
A class ob(C), whose elements are called objects;
A class hom(C), whose elements are called morphisms or maps or arrows.

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Related concepts (3)

Hom functor

In mathematics, specifically in , hom-sets (i.e. sets of morphisms between ) give rise to important functors to the . These functors are called hom-functors and have numerous applications in category theory and other branches of mathematics. Let C be a (i.e. a for which hom-classes are actually sets and not proper classes). For all objects A and B in C we define two functors to the as follows: {| class=wikitable |- ! Hom(A, –) : C → Set ! Hom(–, B) : C → Set |- | This is a covariant functor given by: Hom(A, –) maps each object X in C to the set of morphisms, Hom(A, X) Hom(A, –) maps each morphism f : X → Y to the function Hom(A, f) : Hom(A, X) → Hom(A, Y) given by for each g in Hom(A, X).

Equivalence of categories

In , a branch of abstract mathematics, an equivalence of categories is a relation between two that establishes that these categories are "essentially the same". There are numerous examples of categorical equivalences from many areas of mathematics. Establishing an equivalence involves demonstrating strong similarities between the mathematical structures concerned.

Abstract nonsense

In mathematics, abstract nonsense, general abstract nonsense, generalized abstract nonsense, and general nonsense are nonderogatory terms used by mathematicians to describe long, theoretical parts of a proof they skip over when readers are expected to be familiar with them. These terms are mainly used for abstract methods related to and homological algebra. More generally, "abstract nonsense" may refer to a proof that relies on category-theoretic methods, or even to the study of category theory itself.

Related categories (12)

Abstract algebra

In mathematics, a module is a generalization of the notion of vector space in which the field of scalars is replaced by a ring. The concept of module generalizes also the notion of abelian group, since the abelian groups are exactly the modules over the ring of integers. Like a vector space, a module is an additive abelian group, and scalar multiplication is distributive over the operation of addition between elements of the ring or module and is compatible with the ring multiplication.

Algebraic topology

In the mathematical field of algebraic topology, the fundamental group of a topological space is the group of the equivalence classes under homotopy of the loops contained in the space. It records information about the basic shape, or holes, of the topological space. The fundamental group is the first and simplest homotopy group. The fundamental group is a homotopy invariant—topological spaces that are homotopy equivalent (or the stronger case of homeomorphic) have isomorphic fundamental groups.

Linear algebra

Linear algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning linear equations such as: linear maps such as: and their representations in vector spaces and through matrices. Linear algebra is central to almost all areas of mathematics. For instance, linear algebra is fundamental in modern presentations of geometry, including for defining basic objects such as lines, planes and rotations. Also, functional analysis, a branch of mathematical analysis, may be viewed as the application of linear algebra to spaces of functions.