regular monomorphism


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A monomorphism is regular if it behaves like an embedding.

The universal factorization through an embedding is the image.


A regular monomorphism is a morphism f:cdf : c \to d in some category which occurs as the equalizer of some parallel pair of morphisms ded \stackrel{\to}{\to} e, i.e. for which a limit diagram

cfde c \stackrel{f}{\to} d \stackrel{\longrightarrow}{\longrightarrow} e


From the defining universal property of the limit it follows directly that a regular monomorphism is automatically a monomorphism.

The dual concept is that of a regular epimorphism.

Warning. (CassidyHebertKelly) use `regular monomorphism' in a more general way: for them, a regular monomorphism is by definition the joint equalizer or an arbitrary family of parallel pairs of morphisms with common domain. This concept is sometimes called strict monomorphism, dual to the more commonly used strict epimorphism.


Relation to effective monomorphisms

A monomorphism i:ABi: A \to B is an effective monomorphism if it is the equalizer of its cokernel pair: if the pushout

A i B i i 1 B i 2 B+ AB\array{ A & \stackrel{i}{\to} & B \\ i \downarrow & & \downarrow i_1 \\ B & \underset{i_2}{\to} & B +_A B }

exists and ii is the equalizer of the pair of coprojections i 1,i 2:BB+ ABi_1, i_2: B \stackrel{\to}{\to} B +_A B. Obviously effective monomorphisms are regular.


In a category with finite limits and finite colimits, every regular monomorphism i:ABi: A \to B is effective.


Suppose i:ABi: A \to B is the equalizer of a pair of morphisms f,g:BCf, g: B \to C, and with notation as above, let j:EBj: E \to B be the equalizer of the pair of coprojections i 1,i 2i_1, i_2. Since fi=gif \circ i = g \circ i, there exists a unique map ϕ:B+ ABC\phi: B +_A B \to C such that ϕi 1=f\phi \circ i_1 = f and ϕi 2=g\phi \circ i_2 = g. Then, since

fj=ϕi 1j=ϕi 2j=gjf j = \phi i_1 j = \phi i_2 j = g j

and since i:ABi: A \to B is the equalizer of the pair (f,g)(f, g), there is a unique map k:EAk: E \to A such that j=ikj = i k. Since i 1i=i 2ii_1 i = i_2 i, there is a unique map l:AEl: A \to E such that i=jli = j l. The maps kk, ll are mutually inverse.


In a category with equalizers and cokernel pairs, a regular monomorphism is precisely an effective monomorphism.



In Top, the monics are the injective functions, while the regular monos are the embeddings (that is, the injective functions whose sources have the topologies induced from their targets); these are in fact all of the extremal monomorphisms.


Use lemma 1.

If i:XYi: X \to Y is a subspace embedding, then we form the cokernel pair (i 1,i 2)(i_1, i_2) by taking the pushout of ii against itself (in the category of sets, and using the quotient topology on a disjoint sum). The equalizer of that pair is the set-theoretic equalizer of that pair of functions endowed with the subspace topology. Since monos in SetSet are regular, we get the function ii back with the subspace topology. This completes the proof.


In Grp, the monics are (up to isomorphism) the inclusions of subgroups, and every monomorphism is regular

In contrast, the normal monomorphisms (where one of the morphisms ded \to e is required to be the zero morphism) are the inclusions of normal subgroups.


We follow exercise 7H of (AdamekHerrlichStrecker).

Let KHK \hookrightarrow H be a subgroup. We need to define another group GG and group homomorphisms f 1,f 2:HGf_1, f_2 : H \to G such that

K={hH|f 1(h)=f 2(h)}. K = \{h \in H | f_1(h) = f_2(h)\} \,.

To that end, let

X:=H/K{K^}:={hK|hH}{K^} X := H/K \coprod \{\hat K\} := \{ h K | h \in H \} \coprod \{\hat K\}

be the set of cosets together with one more element K^\hat K.

Let then

G=Aut Set(X) G = Aut_{Set}(X)

be the permutation group on XX.

Define ρG\rho \in G to be the permutation that exchanges the coset eKe K with the extra element K^\hat K and is the identity on all other elements.

Finally define group homomorphism f 1,f 2:HGf_1,f_2 : H \to G by

f 1(h):x{hhK ifx=hK K^ ifx=K^ f_1(h) : x \mapsto \left\{ \array{ h h' K & if x = h' K \\ \hat K & if x = \hat K } \right.


f 2(h)=ρf 1(h)ρ 1. f_2(h) = \rho \circ f_1(h) \circ \rho^{-1} \,.

It is clear that these maps are indeed group homomorphisms.

So for hHh \in H we have that

f 1(h):K^K^, f_1(h) : \hat K \mapsto \hat K \,,


f 1(h):eKhK f_1(h) : e K \mapsto h K


f 2(h):K^eKhK{K^ ifhK hK otherwise. f_2(h) : \hat K \mapsto e K \mapsto h K \mapsto \left\{ \array{ \hat K & if h \in K \\ h K & otherwise } \right. \,.
f 2(h):eKK^K^eK. f_2(h) : e K \mapsto \hat K \mapsto \hat K \mapsto e K \,.

So we have f 1(h)=f 2(h)f_1(h) = f_2(h) precisely if hKh \in K.

In an (,1)(\infty,1)-category

In the context of higher category theory the ordinary limit diagram cfdec \stackrel{f}{\to} d \stackrel{\to}{\to} e may be thought of as the beginning of a homotopy limit diagram over a cosimplicial diagram

cfd 0d 1d 2. c \stackrel{f}{\to} d_0 \stackrel{\to}{\to} d_1 \stackrel{\to}{\stackrel{\to}{\to}} d_2 \cdots \,.

Accordingly, it is not unreasonable to define a regular monomorphism in an (∞,1)-category, to be a morphism which is the limit in a quasi-category of a cosimplicial diagram.

In practice this is of particular relevance for the \infty-version of regular epimorphisms: with the analogous definition as described there, a morphism f:cdf : c \to d is a regular epimorphism in an (∞,1)-category CC if for all objects eCe \in C the induced morphism f *:C(d,e)C(c,e)f^* : C(d,e) \to C(c,e) is a regular monomorphism in ∞Grpd (for instance modeled by a homotopy limit over a cosimplicial diagram in SSet).

Warning. The same warning as at regular epimorphism applies: with this definition of regular monomorphism in an (∞,1)-category these may fail to satisfy various definitions of plain monomorphisms that one might think of.


  • C. Cassidy?, M. Hébert?, and Max Kelly Reflective subcategories, localizations and factorizationa systems. Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society (Series A) 38.03 (1985): 287-329.

Revised on October 7, 2016 05:01:44 by Urs Schreiber (