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category theory

# Contents

## Idea

The notion of power object generalizes the notion of power set from the category Set to an arbitrary category with finite limits.

## Definition

Let $C$ be a category with finite limits. A power object of an object $c \in C$ is

• an object $\Omega^c$

• a monomorphism $\in_c \hookrightarrow c \times \Omega^c$

such that

• for every other object $d$ and every monomorphism $r \hookrightarrow c \times d$ there is a unique morphism $\chi_r : d \to \Omega^c$ such that $r$ is the pullback
$\array{ r &\to& \in_c \\ \downarrow && \downarrow \\ c \times d &\stackrel{Id_c \times \chi_r}{\to}& c \times \Omega^c }$

If $C$ may lack some finite limits, then we may weaken that condition as follows:

• If $C$ has all pullbacks (but may lack products), then equip each of $\in_c$ and $r$ with a jointly monic pair of morphisms, one to $c$ and one to $\Omega^c$ or $d$, in place of the single monomorphism to the product of these targets; $r$ must then be the joint pullback

$\array { r & \rightarrow & d \\ \downarrow & \searrow & & \searrow^{\chi_r} \\ c & & \in_c & \rightarrow & \Omega^c \\ & \searrow^{Id_c} & \downarrow \\ & & c }$
• If $C$ may lack some pullbacks, then we simply require that the pullback that $r$ is to equal must exist. But arguably we should require, if $\Omega^c$ is to be a power object, that this pullback exists for any given map $\chi: d \to \Omega^c$.

## Examples

• If $1$ is a terminal object, then $\Omega^1$ is precisely a subobject classifier.

• A power object in Set is precisely a power set.

• A category with finite limits and power objects for all objects is precisely a topos. The power object $P A$ of any object $A$ in the topos is the exponential object $P A = \Omega^A$ into the subobject classifier.

• See Trimble on ETCS I for the axiom of power sets in the elementary theory of the category of sets.

Last revised on April 20, 2011 at 13:05:24. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.