geometric category



An infinitary coherent category or geometric category is a regular category in which the subobject posets Sub(X)Sub(X) have all small unions which are stable under pullback.

More generally, for κ\kappa a regular cardinal, a κ\kappa-geometric category, or κ\kappa-coherent category, is a regular category with unions for κ\kappa-small families of subobjects, stable under pullback. (For κ=ω\kappa = \omega this reduces to the notion of coherent category, called a pre-logos by Freyd–Scedrov.)

Makkai-Reyes call this a κ\kappa-logical category, while Shulman calls it a κ\kappa-ary regular category. See also (Butz-Johnstone, p. 12).


See familial regularity and exactness for a general description of the spectrum from regular categories through finitary and infinitary coherent categories.


Frequently, geometric categories are additionally required to be well-powered. If a geometric category is well-powered, then its subobject posets are complete lattices, hence also have all intersections. Moreover, by the adjoint functor theorem for posets, it is a Heyting category.

However, since geometric logic does not include implication or infinite conjunction, this categorical structure should not necessarily be expected to exist in a category called “geometric” (and when they do exist, they are not preserved by geometric functors). A requirement of well-poweredness is also inconsistent with the spectrum of familial regularity and exactness.

Note, however, that if a geometric category has a small generating set, then it is necessarily well-powered. In particular, this applies to the syntactic category of any (small) geometric theory, and also to any Grothendieck topos.


Around lemma A1.4.18 in

  • Casten Butz, Peter Johnstone, Classifying toposes for first order theories, BRICS Report Series RS-97-20

Last revised on October 25, 2012 at 22:13:28. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.