on chain complexes/model structure on cosimplicial abelian groups
related by the Dold-Kan correspondence
on algebras over an operad, on modules over an algebra over an operad
on dendroidal sets, for dendroidal complete Segal spaces, for dendroidal Cartesian fibrations
In general, canonical model structures are model category structures on the categories of some flavor of n-categories for $1\le n\le \infty$ (note that $n=\infty$ or $\omega$ is allowed), which are intended to capture the correct “categorical” theory of these categories.
The archetypical examples are the canonical model structure on categories and the canonical model structure on groupoids.
Canonical model structures are sometimes called “folk” model structures, but the appropriateness of this term is very questionable, especially in the cases $n \gt 1$. Other alternatives are ‘endogenous’, ‘standard’, ‘natural’, and ‘categorical’.
While ultimately the collection of all n-categories should form an $(n+1)$-category, restricting that to just invertible higher morphisms will yield an (n+1,1)-category, and thus in particular an (∞,1)-category. It is this (∞,1)-category which is intended to be presented by a canonical model structure. In particular, the weak equivalences in a canonical model structure should be the category-theoretic equivalences.
This is to be contrasted with Thomason model structures in which the weak equivalences are the morphisms that induce a weak homotopy equivalence of nerves. This amounts to regarding each category, or rather its nerve, as a placeholder for its groupoidification (Kan fibrant replacement) and then considering the standard notion of equivalence.
In a canonical model structure for some flavor of $n$-categories, usually
A common problem is to transport the (a) model structure on plain $\omega$-categories, i.e. $\omega$-categories internal to $Sets$ to another internal context, notably for the case that $Sets$ is replaced with some kind of category of $Spaces$. This is relevant for the discussion of the homotopy theory of topological and smooth $\omega$-categories.
Usually, such internalization of model structures has the consequence that some properties invoked in the description of the original model structure, notably some of the lifting properties, will only continue to hold “locally”. One way to deal with this is to pass to a notion slightly weaker than that of a model category called a category of fibrant objects as used in homotopical cohomology theory.
But there are also full model structures for such situations. Notice that under a suitable nerve operation all n-categories usually embed into simplicial sets. The models for infinity-stack (infinity,1)-toposes given by the model structure on simplicial presheaves then serves to present the corresponding $(\infty,1)$-category of parameterized or internal $n$-categories. See for instance also smooth infinity-stack.
In
it is shown that cofibrant $\omega$-categories with respect to the canonical model structure are precisely the “free” ones, where “free” here means “generated from a polygraph” as described in
We had some blog discussion about this at Freely generated omega-categories.
The canonical model structure for 1-categories was known to experts for some time before being written down formally (this is the origin of the adjective “folk”).
The canonical model structure for 1-groupoids is briefly described in section 5 of
It was apparently first published (for categories internal to a Grothendieck topos) by Joyal and Tierney, Strong Stacks and Classifying Spaces, Category theory (Como, 1990) Springer LNM 1488, 213-236.
A more elementary writeup is in
A general internal version relative to a Grothendieck coverage can be found in
though it seems that the assumptions in this article apply to ambient categories that are semiabelian categories, but do not apply to ambient categories like Top.
A brief summary, together with a generalization when one assumes only weaker versions of the axiom of choice, can be found at folk model structure on Cat.
See also
The canonical model structures for 2-categories and bicategories are due to
A Quillen Model Structure for 2-Categories, K-Theory 26: 171–205, 2002. (website)
A Quillen Model Structure for Bicategories, K-Theory 33: 185-197, 2004. (website)
and for $n=3$ (Gray-categories) in
For $n = \omega$ (strict omega-categories)
For $n = \omega$ and all morphisms invertible, there is the model structure on strict omega-groupoids:
Ronnie Brown and M. Golasinski, A model structure for the homotopy theory of crossed complexes, Cah. Top. Géom. Diff. Cat. 30 (1989) 61-82 (pdf)
Dimitri Ara, Francois Metayer, The Brown-Golasinski model structure on ∞-groupoids revisited (pdf) Homology, Homotopy Appl. 13 (2011), no. 1, 121–142.