Functor category

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In category theory, a branch of mathematics, a functor category is a category where the objects are the functors and the morphisms are natural transformations between the functors (here, is another object in the category). Functor categories are of interest for two main reasons:



Suppose is a small category (i.e. the objects and morphisms form a set rather than a proper class) and is an arbitrary category. The category of functors from to , written as Fun(, ), Funct(,), , or , has as objects the covariant functors from to , and as morphisms the natural transformations between such functors. Note that natural transformations can be composed: if is a natural transformation from the functor to the functor , and is a natural transformation from the functor to the functor , then the collection defines a natural transformation from to . With this composition of natural transformations (known as vertical composition, see natural transformation), satisfies the axioms of a category.

In a completely analogous way, one can also consider the category of all contravariant functors from to ; we write this as Funct().

If and are both preadditive categories (i.e. their morphism sets are abelian groups and the composition of morphisms is bilinear), then we can consider the category of all additive functors from to , denoted by Add(,).



Most constructions that can be carried out in can also be carried out in by performing them "componentwise", separately for each object in . For instance, if any two objects and in have a product , then any two functors and in have a product , defined by for every object in . Similarly, if is a natural transformation and each has a kernel in the category , then the kernel of in the functor category is the functor with for every object in .

As a consequence we have the general rule of thumb that the functor category shares most of the "nice" properties of :

We also have:

So from the above examples, we can conclude right away that the categories of directed graphs, -sets and presheaves on a topological space are all complete and cocomplete topoi, and that the categories of representations of , modules over the ring , and presheaves of abelian groups on a topological space are all abelian, complete and cocomplete.

The embedding of the category in a functor category that was mentioned earlier uses the Yoneda lemma as its main tool. For every object of , let be the contravariant representable functor from to . The Yoneda lemma states that the assignment

is a full embedding of the category into the category Funct(,). So naturally sits inside a topos.

The same can be carried out for any preadditive category : Yoneda then yields a full embedding of into the functor category Add(,). So naturally sits inside an abelian category.

The intuition mentioned above (that constructions that can be carried out in can be "lifted" to ) can be made precise in several ways; the most succinct formulation uses the language of adjoint functors. Every functor induces a functor (by composition with ). If and is a pair of adjoint functors, then and is also a pair of adjoint functors.

The functor category has all the formal properties of an exponential object; in particular the functors from stand in a natural one-to-one correspondence with the functors from to . The category of all small categories with functors as morphisms is therefore a cartesian closed category.

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  1. Tom Leinster (2004). Higher Operads, Higher Categories. Cambridge University Press. Archived from the original on 2003-10-25.