nLab Koszul duality

Koszul duality


Higher algebra


Koszul duality


Koszul duality (named after Jean-Louis Koszul) is a duality and phenomenon generalizing the duality between the symmetric and exterior algebra of a vector space to so-called quadratic differential graded algebras (which can be obtained as a free dga module an ideal of relations which live in degree 2). For a pair of Koszul dual algebras, there is a correspondence between certain parts of their derived categories (precise formulation involves some finiteness conditions). In a setup in which one of the algebras is replaced by a cocomplete dg coalgebra, there is a formulation free of finiteness conditions, but involving twisting cochain (see that entry).

On operads

Koszul duality is a duality between quadratic operads, predicted in

and developed in

For associative and dg-algebras

From Ben Webster on mathoverflow:

There are a lot of algebras whose derived categories are equivalent in surprising ways. Morita equivalences are pretty simple, especially for finite dimensional algebras; essentially the only free parameter is the dimension of the object.

Namely, if AModA Mod and BModB Mod are equivalent, then the image of AA as a module over itself is a projective generator of BModB Mod, and for a finite-dimensional algebra, essentially the only thing you can do is take several copies of the indecomposible projectives of BB.

On the other hand, if you take the derived category of dg-modules over AA (the dg part of this is not a huge deal; it’s just that they’re very close to, but a bit better behaved than, actual derived/triangulated categories, which are just crude truncations of truly functorial dg/A A_\infty versions), this is equivalent to the category of dg-modules over the endomorphism algebra (this is in the dg sense, so it’s a dg-algebra whose cohomology is the ExtExt algebra) of any generating object. There are a lot more generating objects than projective generators, so there are a lot of derived equivalences.

In particular, let AA be a finite dimensional algebra AA, then an obvious not-very-projective generating object is the sum of all the simple modules, say LL. As mentioned above, there’s an equivalence AdgMod=Ext(L,L)dgModA dg Mod = \mathrm{Ext}(L,L) dg Mod, just given by taking Ext(L,)\mathrm{Ext}(L,-).

In general, Ext(L,L)\mathrm{Ext}(L,L) is a very complicated object (for example, often for group algebras over finite fields), but sometimes it turns out to be nice. For example, if AA is an exterior algebra, you’ll get a polynomial ring on the dual vector space. Another (closely related) example is that the cohomology of a reductive group (over \mathbb{C}) is Koszul dual to the cohomology of its classifying space.

One way to ensure that Ext(L,L)\mathrm{Ext}(L,L) is nice is if the algebra AA is graded. Then Ext(L,L)\mathrm{Ext}(L,L) inherits an “internal” grading in addition to its homological one. If these coincide, then AA is called Koszul.

In this case, B=Ext(L,L)B=\mathrm{Ext}(L,L) is forced to be formal (if it had any interesting A A_\infty operations, they would break the grading), so you’re dealing with a derived equivalence between actual algebras, though you have to be a bit careful about the dg-issues. Thus the derived category of usual modules over AA is equivalent to dg-modules over BB (with its unique grading) and vice versa. This can be fixed by taking graded modules on both sides.


  • The most famous example of Koszul dual algebras are the exterior algebra Alt V[1]Alt^{\bullet}V[-1] and the polynomial algebra Sym V *[2]Sym^\bullet V^*[-2].

  • A regular block of category O? for any semisimple Lie algebra is a self-Koszul dual.

    • More generally, a singular block of parabolic category O? is dual to a different singular block of parabolic category O where the combinatorial data determining the central character and finiteness conditions switch.
  • Braden, Licata, Proudfoot and Webster gave a combinatorial construction of a large family of Koszul dual algebras in Gale duality and Koszul duality.

Koszul duality between D-modules and Ω-modules

An important special case of Koszul duality establishes a Quillen equivalence between model categories of D-modules and Ω-modules. This was first observed by Kapranov.

Here DD is the sheaf of differential operators on a smooth manifold or a smooth variety and Ω\Omega is the sheaf of differential forms on the same manifold or variety. Both DD and Ω\Omega are equipped with their canonical filtrations (differential operators of order at most~kk respectively differential forms of degree at least~kk) and all constructions below work with sheaves of filtered chain complexes.

The equivalence is implemented by tensoring with a certain filtered Ω\Omega-DD-bimodule DRDR. If we discard the differential, DR=ΩDDR=\Omega\otimes D as a filtered graded bimodule. The differential is canonically determined by its degree 0 component, where we take the coevaluation map OΩ 1D 0 1O\to \Omega^1\otimes D^1_0, where D 0 1D^1_0 denotes differential operators of order at most~1 with vanishing constant term, i.e., vector fields.

This equivalence allows one to define six operations on D-modules by transfering them from Ω-modules, where they can be defined in the usual manner, since differential forms can be pulled back along maps, unlike differential operators.

This fully explains the somewhat unintuitive explicit formulas for the six operations on D-modules.

Linear Koszul duality

Linear Koszul duality is an equivalence between the symmetric algebra of a dg vector bundle and the symmetric algebra of the shifted dual dg vector bundle.

  • Ivan Mirković, Simon Riche, Linear Koszul duality, Compos. Math. 146:1 (2010) 233-258

Categorical Koszul duality

A form of Koszul duality with dg algebras replaced by dg categories has been developed by Holstein and Lazarev. In this, the Koszul dual of a dg category 𝒟\mathcal{D}, given by a bar construction, B𝒟B\mathcal{D} is a pointed curved coalgebra; see

Global Koszul duality

Another variant of Koszul duality defined in terms of model structures on curved dg coalgebras.


Other historical references on Koszul duality include

Koszul duality is also discussed in

A “curved” generalization is discussed in

  • Joseph Hirsh, Joan Millès, Curved Koszul duality theory, Max Planck preprint MPIM2010-104, pdf
  • Gunnar Fløystad, Koszul duality and equivalences of categories, Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. 358 (2006), 2373-2398 math.AG/0012264 MR2204036 doi

Bernhard Keller and his student Lefèvre-Hasegawa described rather general framework for Koszul duality using dg-(co)algebras and twisting cochains:

See also:

Last revised on December 5, 2023 at 21:01:47. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.