nLab fiber functor



Category theory





A forgetful functor from a category of actions/representations to the underlying sets/spaces is often called a fiber functor, notably in the context of Tannaka duality and Galois theory.

The archetypical example which gives rise to the term is the following. If one has the category Et(X)Et(X) of covering spaces of a (nice enough) topological space XX, then after picking any point xXx \in X the operation of forming the fibre over that point gives a functor fib x:Et(X)Setfib_x \colon Et(X)\to Set to the category Set of sets. The natural automorphisms of this functor form the (algebraic) fundamental group, π 1(X)\pi_1(X). The main theorem of the Galois-Poincaré theory of covering spaces can be viewed as stating that this sets up an equivalence of categories between that category of covering spaces and the category of π 1\pi_1-sets. This equivalence is compatible with the chosen fibre functor and the further forgetful functor from π 1Sets\pi_1-Sets to SetsSets. Extracting from this situation, that forgetful functor is thought of as being a fibre functor as well. Any category of G-sets, for GG a group, gives a monoidal category, and the forgetful functor is a monoidal functor; of course, the category of G-sets corresponds to the category of permutation representations of GG, and generalising this basic example leads to the following idea.

The forgetful strict monoidal functor from a monoidal category to some standard monoidal category, usually the category Vect of vector spaces over a field is called the fiber functor in some contexts, especially in Tannaka reconstruction in which the symmetry object is reconstructed from the (object of) endomorphisms of the fiber functor. In mixed Tannaka duality, a single fiber functor does not suffice for reconstruction, but rather a family of fiber functors to different bases.

Historically, the notion was used extensively, starting in the 1960s by Grothendieck and his collaborators. The terminology is from the Grothendieck Galois theory: namely Grothendieck reconstructs the (profinite) fundamental group in algebraic geometry from a fiber functor: the fundamental group acts on a covering by deck transformations and by monodromy transformation for bundles over the covering, algebraic analogues of such a picture can thus be used to define a fundamental group, not by using some idea of loops which are often hard to define in abstract setups, but by a form of Tannakian reconstruction. Grothendieck also introduced the idea of using many “base points” that is, many fibre functors, thus giving an abstract analogue of the fundamental groupoid of a space.


Please do not confuse the terminology with the case of a functor which is a Grothendieck fibration (i.e. a fibered category); nor with a fiber (“preimage” of a sort) of a functor. These are related ideas but are best kept separate.


Tannaka duality

Tannaka duality for categories of modules over monoids/associative algebras

monoid/associative algebracategory of modules
AAMod AMod_A
RR-algebraMod RMod_R-2-module
sesquialgebra2-ring = monoidal presentable category with colimit-preserving tensor product
bialgebrastrict 2-ring: monoidal category with fiber functor
Hopf algebrarigid monoidal category with fiber functor
hopfish algebra (correct version)rigid monoidal category (without fiber functor)
weak Hopf algebrafusion category with generalized fiber functor
quasitriangular bialgebrabraided monoidal category with fiber functor
triangular bialgebrasymmetric monoidal category with fiber functor
quasitriangular Hopf algebra (quantum group)rigid braided monoidal category with fiber functor
triangular Hopf algebrarigid symmetric monoidal category with fiber functor
supercommutative Hopf algebra (supergroup)rigid symmetric monoidal category with fiber functor and Schur smallness
form Drinfeld doubleform Drinfeld center
trialgebraHopf monoidal category

2-Tannaka duality for module categories over monoidal categories

monoidal category2-category of module categories
AAMod AMod_A
RR-2-algebraMod RMod_R-3-module
Hopf monoidal categorymonoidal 2-category (with some duality and strictness structure)

3-Tannaka duality for module 2-categories over monoidal 2-categories

monoidal 2-category3-category of module 2-categories
AAMod AMod_A
RR-3-algebraMod RMod_R-4-module

See also


For fusion 2-categories:

Last revised on August 6, 2023 at 09:58:53. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.