Notes on Category Theory

Robert L. Knighten

November 9, 2007

c

2004–2007 by Robert L. KnightenAll rights reserved

Preface

There are many ﬁne articles, notes, and books on category theory, so what isthe excuse for publishing yet another tome on the subject. My initial excusewas altruistic, a student asked for help in learning the subject and none of the available sources was quite appropriate. But ultimately I recognized thepersonal and selﬁsh desire to produce my own exposition of the subject. Despitethat I have some hope that other students of the subject will ﬁnd these notesuseful.

Target Audience & Prerequisites

Category theory can sensibly be studied at many levels. Lawvere andSchanuel in their book

Conceptual Mathematics

[47] have provided an intro-duction to categories assuming very little background in mathematics, whileMac Lane’s

Categories for the Working Mathematician

is an introduction tocategories for those who already have a substantial knowledge of other partsof mathematics. These notes are targeted to a student with signiﬁcant “math-ematical sophistication” and a modest amount of speciﬁc knowledge. Thesophistication is primarily an ease with the deﬁnition-theorem-proof style of mathematical exposition, being comfortable with an axiomatic approach, andﬁnding particular pleasure in exploring unexpected connections even with un-familiar parts of mathematics

Assumed Background:

The critical speciﬁc knowledge assumed is a basicunderstanding of set theory. This includes such notions as subsets, unions andintersections of sets, ordered pairs, Cartesian products, relations, and functionsas relations. An understanding of particular types of functions, particularly bi- jections, injections, surjections and the associated notions of direct and inverseimages of subsets is also important. Other kinds of relations are importantas well, particularly equivalence relations and order relations. The basic ideasregarding ﬁnite and inﬁnite sets, cardinal and ordinal numbers and inductionwill also be used.All of this material is outlined in Appendix A on informal axiomatic settheory, but this is not likely to be useful as a ﬁrst exposure to set theory.Although not strictly required some minimal understanding of elementarygroup theory or basic linear algebra will certainly make parts of the text mucheasier to understand.There are many examples scattered through the text which require someknowledge of other and occasionally quite advanced parts of mathematics. Iniii

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