Category of metric spaces

Last updated

In category theory, Met is a category that has metric spaces as its objects and metric maps (continuous functions between metric spaces that do not increase any pairwise distance) as its morphisms. This is a category because the composition of two metric maps is again a metric map. It was first considered by Isbell (1964).



The monomorphisms in Met are the injective metric maps. The epimorphisms are the metric maps for which the domain of the map has a dense image in the range. The isomorphisms are the isometries, i.e. metric maps which are injective, surjective, and distance-preserving.

As an example, the inclusion of the rational numbers into the real numbers is a monomorphism and an epimorphism, but it is clearly not an isomorphism; this example shows that Met is not a balanced category.


The empty metric space is the initial object of Met; any singleton metric space is a terminal object. Because the initial object and the terminal objects differ, there are no zero objects in Met.

The injective objects in Met are called injective metric spaces. Injective metric spaces were introduced and studied first by Aronszajn & Panitchpakdi (1956), prior to the study of Met as a category; they may also be defined intrinsically in terms of a Helly property of their metric balls, and because of this alternative definition Aronszajn and Panitchpakdi named these spaces hyperconvex spaces. Any metric space has a smallest injective metric space into which it can be isometrically embedded, called its metric envelope or tight span.

Products and functors

The product of a finite set of metric spaces in Met is a metric space that has the cartesian product of the spaces as its points; the distance in the product space is given by the supremum of the distances in the base spaces. That is, it is the product metric with the sup norm. However, the product of an infinite set of metric spaces may not exist, because the distances in the base spaces may not have a supremum. That is, Met is not a complete category, but it is finitely complete. There is no coproduct in Met.

The forgetful functor Met Set assigns to each metric space the underlying set of its points, and assigns to each metric map the underlying set-theoretic function. This functor is faithful, and therefore Met is a concrete category.

Met is not the only category whose objects are metric spaces; others include the category of uniformly continuous functions, the category of Lipschitz functions and the category of quasi-Lipschitz mappings. The metric maps are both uniformly continuous and Lipschitz, with Lipschitz constant at most one.

See also

Related Research Articles

In mathematics, a metric space is a set together with a metric on the set. The metric is a function that defines a concept of distance between any two members of the set, which are usually called points. The metric satisfies a few simple properties. Informally:

In the mathematical field of category theory, the category of sets, denoted as Set, is the category whose objects are sets. The arrows or morphisms between sets A and B are the total functions from A to B, and the composition of morphisms is the composition of functions.

In mathematics, an abelian category is a category in which morphisms and objects can be added and in which kernels and cokernels exist and have desirable properties. The motivating prototypical example of an abelian category is the category of abelian groups, Ab. The theory originated in an effort to unify several cohomology theories by Alexander Grothendieck and independently in the slightly earlier work of David Buchsbaum. Abelian categories are very stable categories; for example they are regular and they satisfy the snake lemma. The class of abelian categories is closed under several categorical constructions, for example, the category of chain complexes of an abelian category, or the category of functors from a small category to an abelian category are abelian as well. These stability properties make them inevitable in homological algebra and beyond; the theory has major applications in algebraic geometry, cohomology and pure category theory. Abelian categories are named after Niels Henrik Abel.

Category (mathematics) Mathematical object that generalizes the standard notions of sets and functions

In mathematics, a category is a collection of "objects" that are linked by "arrows". A category has two basic properties: the ability to compose the arrows associatively and the existence of an identity arrow for each object. A simple example is the category of sets, whose objects are sets and whose arrows are functions.

In topology, a discrete space is a particularly simple example of a topological space or similar structure, one in which the points form a discontinuous sequence, meaning they are isolated from each other in a certain sense. The discrete topology is the finest topology that can be given on a set. Every subset is open in the discrete topology so that in particular, every singleton subset is an open set in the discrete topology.

In category theory, an epimorphism is a morphism f : XY that is right-cancellative in the sense that, for all objects Z and all morphisms g1, g2: YZ,

In mathematics, specifically in category theory, a pre-abelian category is an additive category that has all kernels and cokernels.

In category theory, the coproduct, or categorical sum, is a construction which includes as examples the disjoint union of sets and of topological spaces, the free product of groups, and the direct sum of modules and vector spaces. The coproduct of a family of objects is essentially the "least specific" object to which each object in the family admits a morphism. It is the category-theoretic dual notion to the categorical product, which means the definition is the same as the product but with all arrows reversed. Despite this seemingly innocuous change in the name and notation, coproducts can be and typically are dramatically different from products.

In mathematics, a function space is a set of functions between two fixed sets. Often, the domain and/or codomain will have additional structure which is inherited by the function space. For example, the set of functions from any set X into a vector space has a natural vector space structure given by pointwise addition and scalar multiplication. In other scenarios, the function space might inherit a topological or metric structure, hence the name function space.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and guide to category theory, the area of study in mathematics that examines in an abstract way the properties of particular mathematical concepts, by formalising them as collections of objects and arrows, where these collections satisfy certain basic conditions. Many significant areas of mathematics can be formalised as categories, and the use of category theory allows many intricate and subtle mathematical results in these fields to be stated, and proved, in a much simpler way than without the use of categories.

In category theory, an abstract branch of mathematics, an equivalence of categories is a relation between two categories 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. In some cases, these structures may appear to be unrelated at a superficial or intuitive level, making the notion fairly powerful: it creates the opportunity to "translate" theorems between different kinds of mathematical structures, knowing that the essential meaning of those theorems is preserved under the translation.

In mathematics, the category of topological spaces, often denoted Top, is the category whose objects are topological spaces and whose morphisms are continuous maps. This is a category because the composition of two continuous maps is again continuous, and the identity function is continuous. The study of Top and of properties of topological spaces using the techniques of category theory is known as categorical topology.

In the mathematical theory of metric spaces, a metric map is a function between metric spaces that does not increase any distance . These maps are the morphisms in the category of metric spaces, Met . They are also called Lipschitz functions with Lipschitz constant 1, nonexpansive maps, nonexpanding maps, weak contractions, or short maps.

In mathematics, especially in the field of category theory, the concept of injective object is a generalization of the concept of injective module. This concept is important in cohomology, in homotopy theory and in the theory of model categories. The dual notion is that of a projective object.

In mathematics, particularly in homotopy theory, a model category is a category with distinguished classes of morphisms ('arrows') called 'weak equivalences', 'fibrations' and 'cofibrations' satisfying certain axioms relating them. These abstract from the category of topological spaces or of chain complexes. The concept was introduced by Daniel G. Quillen (1967).

In metric geometry, an injective metric space, or equivalently a hyperconvex metric space, is a metric space with certain properties generalizing those of the real line and of L distances in higher-dimensional vector spaces. These properties can be defined in two seemingly different ways: hyperconvexity involves the intersection properties of closed balls in the space, while injectivity involves the isometric embeddings of the space into larger spaces. However it is a theorem of Aronszajn and Panitchpakdi that these two different types of definitions are equivalent.

In category theory, a regular category is a category with finite limits and coequalizers of a pair of morphisms called kernel pairs, satisfying certain exactness conditions. In that way, regular categories recapture many properties of abelian categories, like the existence of images, without requiring additivity. At the same time, regular categories provide a foundation for the study of a fragment of first-order logic, known as regular logic.

Category of rings

In mathematics, the category of rings, denoted by Ring, is the category whose objects are rings and whose morphisms are ring homomorphisms. Like many categories in mathematics, the category of rings is large, meaning that the class of all rings is proper.

In mathematics, particularly in category theory, a morphism is a structure-preserving map from one mathematical structure to another one of the same type. The notion of morphism recurs in much of contemporary mathematics. In set theory, morphisms are functions; in linear algebra, linear transformations; in group theory, group homomorphisms; in topology, continuous functions, and so on.