full image

The full image of a functor $F\colon C \to D$ is a version of its image? that gets its objects from the functor's source $C$ but its morphisms from the functor's target $D$.

You may think of it as (up to equivalence) the full subcategory of $D$ whose objects lie in the literal image of $F$.

We may call it the $1$-image of the functor, because it reduces (again, up to equivalence) to the ordinary image for a functor between $0$-categories.

Let $C$ and $D$ be categories, and let $F\colon C \to D$ be a functor. Then the **full image** of $F$ is the category $\overline{im} F$ with:

- as objects, the objects of $C$;
- as morphisms from $x$ to $y$, the morphisms in $D$ from $F(x)$ to $F(y)$.

If $C$ is a subcategory of $D$, then the full image is the full subcategory of $D$ whose objects belong to $C$.

The full image should be taken as equipped with a functor to $D$, which acts as $F$ on objects and the identity on morphisms. This functor is fully faithful, so $\overline{im} F$ is always equivalent to a full subcategory of $D$.

From in internal point of view, if $codisc(S)$ is the category with object set $S$ and a unique arrow between any ordered pair of objects (that is, $Mor(codisc(S)) = S\times S$), the full image can be defined as a pullback:

$\begin{matrix}
\overline{im} F& \to & D \\
\downarrow&&\, \downarrow \\
codisc(Obj(C))&\underset{codisc(F_0)}{\to} & codisc(Obj(D))
\end{matrix}$

in the category Cat. Here $F_0$ is the object component of $F$ and $codisc(F_0)$ is the obvious functor. This determines $\overline{im} F$ up to canonical isomorphism as a strict category (or other internal category).

Let $F$ be interpreted as a forgetful functor, so that the objects of $C$ are thought of as objects of $D$ with some stuff, structure, property. Then the full image of $D$ consists of objects of $D$ with only a property: specifically the property that they are capable of taking the stuff or structure of being an object of $C$.

For example, any inhabited set is capable of taking the structure of a group (at least, assuming the axiom of choice). So the full image of the forgetful functor from Grp to Set is equivalent to the category $Set \setminus \{\empty\}$ of inhabited sets.

Revised on January 28, 2010 22:53:28
by Mike Shulman
(128.135.197.48)