nLab rigid monoidal category



Monoidal categories

monoidal categories

With symmetry

With duals for objects

With duals for morphisms

With traces

Closed structure

Special sorts of products



Internal monoids



In higher category theory



A rigid (monoidal) category, also called an autonomous (monoidal) category is a kind of category with duals. Specifically, all of its objects are dualisable on both the left and the right.


A monoidal category is rigid if every object has duals on both sides. If only one type of dual exists, we speak of left rigid (or left autonomous) or right rigid categories.

Conventions differ regarding which type of duals are which. One convention is as follows: a right dual of an object VV in a monoidal category MM is an object V *V^* equipped with unit η:1V *V\eta : 1 \rightarrow V^* \otimes V and counit maps ϵ:VV *1\epsilon: V \otimes V^* \rightarrow 1 satisfying the triangle identities (the snake diagrams), while a left dual is the dual notion. This convention fits in with the standardized conventions regarding adjoint functors: an endofunctor F:CCF : C \rightarrow C has a right adjoint F *:CCF^* : C \rightarrow C if and only if F *F^* is a right dual of FF in the monoidal category End(C)End(C).


Note that this definition only asserts the existence of the dual objects. It does not assert that specific duals have been chosen. However, the choice of duals is unique up to unique isomorphism, justifying reference to ‘the’ dual of an object; in fact, this extends to a contravariant anafunctor *:MM{}^*\colon M \to M. (Using the axiom of choice to pick duals for every object at once, we can make this into a strict functor.)

Nor does this definition assert that the right dual of an object is isomorphic to its left dual: this need not be the case in general, though it is true in a braided monoidal category, and thus automatically also in a symmetric monoidal category (this last fact can be considered an algebraic form of the “Whitney trick” for knots; see this MO discussion). Note that a rigid monoidal category which is also symmetric is sometimes called compact closed, or simply “compact”.

In practice, algebraic geometers are the most frequent users of the term ‘rigid’, and they focus on the symmetric monoidal case, so they ignore the difference between right and left duals.


Tannaka duality

The statement of Tannaka duality for associative algebras says that rigid monoidal categories equipped with a fiber functor are categories of modules over a Hopf algebra.

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

Free rigid monoidal categories

The inclusion of the 2-category of monoidal categories into the 2-category of rigid monoidal categories admits a left 2-adjoint functor? LL.

Furthermore, the unit of the adjunction is a strong monoidal fully faithful functor, i.e., any monoidal category CC admits a fully faithful strong monoidal functor CL(C)C\to L(C), where L(C)L(C) is a rigid monoidal category.

See Theorems 1 and 2 in Delpeuch.


  • N. Saavedra Rivano, “Catégories Tannakiennes.” Bulletin de la Société Mathématique de France 100 (1972): 417-430. EuDML

  • Antonin Delpeuch?, Autonomization of monoidal categories, arXiv, doi.

Last revised on October 12, 2022 at 11:48:05. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.