In response to a request, this page explains how to define a small category using SEAR as foundations. Note that, while SEAR respects the principle of equivalence in that one cannot compare arbitrary sets for equality, it has no provision for small types with no notion of equality. Thus we will be formalising small strict categories, and it will be possible to make statemens about them that do not respect the principle of equivalence.

There are actually two ways to interpret this programme. One is to accept every set in SEAR as ‘small’ and consider categories that are small in that sense. So the category of *all* SEAR sets cannot be formalised this way, but any category whose set of objects and hom-sets are sets in SEAR can be formalised in this way. Another way is to declare a family of sets within SEAR to be the family of ‘small’ sets; then only categories with a set of morphisms that belongs to this family can be formalised in this way. (This way is even more principle of equivalence-breaking in that one can even consider equality of categories, not only equality of objects within a given category.) There is small category (in the first sense) of all small categories (in the second sense).

We call these two interpretations the ‘large universe’ and ‘small universe’ interpretations.

A **category** is a syntactic quintuple that consists of

- a set $O$ (called the set of
*objects*), - a set $M$ (called the set of
*morphisms*), - a function $s: M \to O$ (the
*source*map), - a function $t: M \to O$ (the
*target*map), - and a partial function $c: M \times M \dashrightarrow M$ (the
*composition map*)

satsifying these conditions:

- For $f, g$ elements of $M$, $c(f,g)$ is defined if and ony if $s(f) = t(g)$.
- In that case, $s(c(f,g)) = s(g)$ and $t(c(f,g)) = t(f)$.
- For every element $x$ of $O$, there exists an element $i$ of $M$ such that
- $s(i) = x$ and $t(i) = x$,
- $c(i,f) = f$ for every element $f$ of $M$ such that $x = t(f)$, and
- $c(f,i) = f$ for every element $f$ of $M$ such that $s(f) = x$.

- For $f, g, h$ elements of $M$ such that $s(f) = t(g)$ and $s(g) = t(h)$, we have $c(c(f,g),h) = c(f,c(g,h))$.

Note that a partial function from $p: X \dashrightarrow Y$ is formalised as a functional relation, that is a relation $\phi: X \to Y$ such that $b = c$ whenever $\phi(a,b)$ and $\phi(a,c)$ both hold (for elements $a$ of $X$ and $b,c$ of $Y$). We say that $p(x)$ is *defined* if there is $y$ such that $\phi(x,y)$ holds; in that case, such $y$ is unique and we denote it $p(x)$. This notation can be eliminated from the language using existential quantification, the same as when $p$ is a function.

Take a relation $m : U \looparrowright E$ as the *family of small sets*. Then a **small category** (relatively to this family) is an element of … such that …. Along with the set of small categories, we consider the relations …, which are respectively the families of *sets of objects*, *sets of morphisms*, *source maps*, *target maps*, and *composition maps*.

Hopefully it's obvious, but this not completed. It would be nice to carry the development to the point that, given any family of sets, the relatively small categories in this sense form a category in the above sense.

Last revised on April 22, 2017 at 09:59:23. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.