In , a branch of mathematics, an enriched category generalizes the idea of a by replacing hom-sets with objects from a general . It is motivated by the observation that, in many practical applications, the hom-set often has additional structure that should be respected, e.g., that of being a vector space of morphisms, or a topological space of morphisms. In an enriched category, the set of morphisms (the hom-set) associated with every pair of objects is replaced by an in some fixed monoidal category of "hom-objects". In order to emulate the (associative) composition of morphisms in an ordinary category, the hom-category must have a means of composing hom-objects in an associative manner: that is, there must be a binary operation on objects giving us at least the structure of a , though in some contexts the operation may also need to be commutative and perhaps also to have a right adjoint (i.e., making the category or even , respectively).
Enriched category theory thus encompasses