nLab foliated category




Foliated categories (French: catégories feuilletées), or simply foliations (not to be confused with the notion of foliations in differential geometry), were introduced by Jean Bénabou in unpublished work dating back to 1984.

They are a weaker structure than fibered categories, but still allow one to test for various standard properties of functors fibre-wise.


A functor P:XBP\colon \mathbf{X} \to \mathbf{B} makes its domain category X\mathbf{X} a foliated category (over B\mathbf{B}) if the following conditions hold:

  1. Every morphism ff in X\mathbf{X} factors as a PP-vertical morphism vv (i.e. P(v)P(v) is an identity morphism in B\mathbf{B}), followed by a PP-cartesian morphism kk, i.e. f=kvf = k\circ v,

  2. The class of weak PP-cartesian morphisms is closed under composition.

If closure under composition is not required, we obtain the notion of prefoliated category.

A morphism between foliated categories XX\mathbf{X}'\to \mathbf{X} (over B\mathbf{B}) is a functor over B\mathbf{B} that sends cartesian morphisms to cartesian morphisms, and such that for every object XX' of X\mathbf{X}', and morphism f:YF(X)f\colon Y\to F(X') in X\mathbf{X}, there is a factorisation f=F(k)vf = F(k)\circ v, where vv is vertical in X\mathbf{X} and kk is cartesian in X\mathbf{X}'. Bénabou calls such functors cartesian.


  • Jean Bénabou, Cartesian functors and foliated categories, talk at Oxford (1 May 2012) [YouTube]

  • Jean Bénabou, Foncteurs cartésiens et catégories feuilletées, talk at Journée Guitart, Paris (9 November 2012) [YouTube, slides, pdf]

  • Jean Bénabou, Du vieux et du neuf sur la construction de Grothendieck, talk at Paris-Diderot (March 2019) [YouTube]

    (the material on foliated categories – called simply foliations — starts at 1:01:00).

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Last revised on December 28, 2023 at 11:49:33. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.