Concept

# Kernel (category theory)

Summary
In and its applications to other branches of mathematics, kernels are a generalization of the kernels of group homomorphisms, the kernels of module homomorphisms and certain other kernels from algebra. Intuitively, the kernel of the morphism f : X → Y is the "most general" morphism k : K → X that yields zero when composed with (followed by) f. Note that kernel pairs and difference kernels (also known as binary equalisers) sometimes go by the name "kernel"; while related, these aren't quite the same thing and are not discussed in this article. Definition Let C be a . In order to define a kernel in the general category-theoretical sense, C needs to have zero morphisms. In that case, if f : X → Y is an arbitrary morphism in C, then a kernel of f is an equaliser of f and the zero morphism from X to Y. In symbols: :ker(f) = eq(f, 0XY) To be more explicit, the following universal property can be used. A kernel of f is an K together with a morphism k : K → X such that:
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