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August 1, 2022

Timing, Span(Graph) and Cospan(Graph)

Posted by Emily Riehl

Guest post by Siddharth Bhat and Pim de Haan. Many thanks to Mario Román for proofreading this blogpost.

This paper explores modelling automata using the Span/Cospan framework by Sabadini and Walters. The aim of this blogpost is to introduce the key constructions that are used in this paper, and to explain how these categorical constructions allow us to talking about modelling automata and timing in these automata.

Posted at 9:35 PM UTC | Permalink | Post a Comment

July 29, 2022

Relational Universal Algebra with String Diagrams

Posted by Emily Riehl

guest post by Phoebe Klett and Ralph Sarkis

This post continues the series from the Adjoint School of Applied Category Theory 2022. It is a summary of the main ideas introduced in this paper:

Just as category theory gives us a bird’s-eye view of all mathematical structures, universal algebra gives a bird’s-eye view of all algebraic structures (groups, rings, modules, etc.) While universal algebra leads to a beautiful theory with many general statements — it also enjoys a categorical formulation introduced in F.W. Lawvere’s thesis which inspired the aforementioned paper’s title — it does not deal with several common structures in mathematics like graphs, orders, categories and metric spaces. Relational universal algebra allows to cover these examples and more. In this post, we present this field of study using a diagrammatic syntax based on cartesian bicategories of relations.

Posted at 2:57 PM UTC | Permalink | Post a Comment

July 28, 2022

Compositional Constructions of Automata

Posted by Emily Riehl

guest post by Ruben van Belle and Miguel Lopez

In this post we will detail a categorical construction of automata following the work of Albasini, Sabadini, and Walters. We first recall the basic definitions of various automata, and then outline the construction of the aformentioned authors as well as generalizations and examples.

A finite deterministic automaton consists of

  • a finite set QQ (state space),

  • an initial state q 0Xq_0\in X and a set FQF\subseteq Q of accepting states,

  • a finite set AA of input symbols and a transition map τ a:QQ\tau_a:Q\to Q for every aAa\in A.

Posted at 6:24 PM UTC | Permalink | Post a Comment

July 27, 2022

Learning to Lie with Sheaves

Posted by Emily Riehl

guest post by Sean O’Connor and Ana Luiza Tenorio

Social networks are frequently represented by graphs: each agent/person is a vertex and the interactions between pairs of individuals are the edges. A starting point to think about the evolution of opinions over time is to associate to each vertex vv a real number x vx_v that represents the agreement of vv to respect a certain topic. For instance, fix the topic “category theory is cool”. In a social network of nn mathematicians, we will have some high positive x vx_v \in \mathbb{R} representing a strong agreement with this assertion, some high negative x vx_{v'}\in \mathbb{R} for a strong disagreement, and some neutral opinions. Those mathematicians interact and may change their original opinion. What is the group’s opinion about category theory after a period of time? Clearly, eventually, everyone will agree that category theory is cool. Jokes (or not) aside, a standard way to try to answer this is to study the dynamical system generated by the heat equation

(1)dxdt=αLxforsomeα>0 \frac{d x}{d t} = -\alpha L x \; for \; some \; \alpha \gt 0

where x=(x v 1,...,v v n) nx = (x_{v_1},...,v_{v_n})\in \mathbb{R}^n and LL is the graph Laplacian, a matrix that represents a graph defined by the difference L=DAL = D - A, with DD the degree matrix and AA the adjacency matrix of the graph. In this approach, originally proposed in Towards a mathematical theory of influence and attitude change, we study the evolution of opinion distributions without considering that expressed opinions may be different from personal opinions. In the paper Opinion Dynamics on Discourse Sheaves, Jakob Hansen and Robert Ghrist introduced a functor that addresses this distinction, and leads to a flexible model. We briefly present it here.

Posted at 4:22 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (4)

July 26, 2022

Identity Types in Context

Posted by Emily Riehl

guest post by Shreya Arya and Greta Coraglia

The relation between mathematicians and the notion of identity has been an interesting one. Even what is arguably the first mathematical text (that we know of) in history, Euclid’s Elements (c. 300 BC), deals with the problem of equality. In Book I, after Definitions and Postulates, Euclid details five Common Notions:

  1. Things equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.
  2. And if equal things are added to equal things then the wholes are equal.
  3. And if equal things are subtracted from equal things then the remainders are equal.
  4. And things coinciding with one another are equal to one another.
  5. And the whole [is] greater than the part.

On one hand, such notions are considered “common”, so that they are trivial enough that everyone ought to agree with them; on the other, they are not so trivial that one can avoid writing them down. Moreover, Euclid feels the need to pin-point the effect that equality must have on operations involving such objects: the underlying principle here is that two entities that are equal should share the same properties and behaviours.

What mathematicians really use is a bit stronger than that…1

Posted at 5:51 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (5)

July 25, 2022

How to apply category theory to thermodynamics

Posted by Emily Riehl

guest post by Nandan Kulkarni and Chad Harper

This blog post discusses the paper “Compositional Thermostatics” by John Baez, Owen Lynch, and Joe Moeller. The series of posts on Dr. Baez’s blog gives a more thorough overview of the topics in the paper, and is probably a better primer if you intend to read it. Like the posts on Dr. Baez’s blog, this blog post also explains some aspects of the framework in an introductory manner. However, it takes the approach of emphasizes particular interesting details, and concludes in the treatment of a particular quantum system using ideas from the paper.

Posted at 9:54 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (3)

July 19, 2022

Probability Monads as Codensity Monads

Posted by Tom Leinster

My PhD student Ruben Van Belle has just published his first paper!

Ruben Van Belle, Probability monads as codensity monads. Theory and Applications of Categories 38 (2022), 811–842.

It’s a treasure trove of theorems demonstrating how many of the monads loosely referred to as “probability monads” arise as codensity monads in a certain uniform manner, which I’ll tell you about now.

Posted at 9:47 AM UTC | Permalink | Followups (8)

July 16, 2022

Conversations on Mathematics

Posted by John Baez

Now that I’ve retired, I have more time for pure math. So after a roughly decade-long break, James Dolan and I are talking about math again. Here are our conversations. Some are in email, but mainly these are our weekly 2-hour-long Zoom sessions, which I’ve put on YouTube. They focus on algebraic geometry — especially abelian varieties and motives — but also ‘doctrines’ and their applications to algebraic geometry, group representation theory, combinatorics and other subjects.

They may not be easy to follow, but maybe a few people will get something out of them. I have not corrected all the mistakes, some of which we eventually catch. I’ve added lots of links to papers and Wikipedia articles.

These conversations are continuing, but I won’t keep putting links to them here on nn-Category Café, so if you want more of them you can either check out my webpage at your leisure, or subscribe to my YouTube channel. I’ll probably fall behind in putting up videos, and then catch up, and then fall behind, etc. — so please don’t expect one to show up each week.

Posted at 10:06 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (1)

July 9, 2022

Symposium on Compositional Structures 9

Posted by John Baez

The Symposium on Compositional Structures is a nice informal conference series that happens more than once a year. You can now submit talks for this one:

Ninth Symposium on Compositional Structures (SYCO 9), Como, Italy, 8-9 September 2022. Deadline to submit a talk: Monday August 1, 2022.

Apparently you can attend online but to give a talk you have to go there. Here are some details….

Posted at 3:18 PM UTC | Permalink | Post a Comment

June 27, 2022

Compositional Modeling with Decorated Cospans

Posted by John Baez

It’s finally here: software that uses category theory to let you build models of dynamical systems! We’re going to train epidemiologists to use this to model the spread of disease. My first talk on this will be on Wednesday June 29th. You’re invited!

Compositional modeling with decorated cospans, Graph Transformation Theory and Practice (GReTA) seminar, 19:00 UTC, Wednesday 29 June 2022.

You can attend live on Zoom if you click here. You can also watch it live on YouTube, or later recorded, here.

Posted at 6:47 PM UTC | Permalink | Post a Comment

June 22, 2022

Motivating Motives

Posted by John Baez

I gave an introductory talk on Grothendieck’s ‘motives’ at the conference Grothendieck’s Approach to Mathematics at Chapman University in late May.

Now the videos of all talks at this conference are on YouTube — including talks by Kevin Buzzard, Colin McLarty, Elaine Landry, Jean-Pierre Marquis, Mike Shulman and other people you’ve heard about on this blog.

Posted at 5:32 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (2)

June 20, 2022

Hoàng Xuân Sính

Posted by John Baez

During the Vietnam war, Grothendieck taught math to the Hanoi University mathematics department staff, out in the countryside. Hoàng Xuân Sính took notes and later did a PhD with him — by correspondence! She mailed him her hand-written thesis. She is the woman in this picture:

As you might guess, there’s a very interesting story behind this. I’ve looked into it, but what I found raises even more questions. Hoàng Xuân Sính’s life really deserves a good biography.

Posted at 8:08 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (10)

June 18, 2022

Compositional Thermostatics (Part 4)

Posted by John Baez

guest post by Owen Lynch

This is the fourth and final part of a blog series on this paper:

• John Baez, Owen Lynch and Joe Moeller, Compositional thermostatics.

In Part 1, we went over our definition of thermostatic system: it’s a convex space XX of states and a concave function S:X[,]S \colon X \to [-\infty, \infty] saying the entropy of each state. We also gave examples of thermostatic systems.

In Part 2, we talked about what it means to compose thermostatic systems. It amounts to constrained maximization of the total entropy.

In Part 3 we laid down a categorical framework for composing systems when there are choices that have to be made for how the systems are composed. This framework has been around for a long time: operads and operad algebras.

In this post we will bring together all of these parts in a big synthesis to create an operad of all the ways of composing thermostatic systems, along with an operad algebra of thermostatic systems!

Posted at 11:28 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (2)

June 15, 2022

Graded Modalities

Posted by David Corfield

I’m hosting a workshop tomorrow (13:00-17:00 UK time (UTC+1), Thursday 16 June 2022) which explores what common ground there may be in the treatment of graded modalities by linguistics, computer science and philosophy. It’s a hybrid event (in-person and online) and all are welcome, details here.

You very much ought to come along.

A fine example of a graded modality.

Posted at 12:49 PM UTC | Permalink | Followups (1)

May 17, 2022

The Magnitude of Information

Posted by Tom Leinster

Guest post by Heiko Gimperlein, Magnus Goffeng and Nikoletta Louca

The magnitude of a metric space (X,d)(X,d) does not require further introduction on this blog. Two of the hosts, Tom Leinster and Simon Willerton, conjectured that the magnitude function X(R):=Mag(X,Rd)\mathcal{M}_X(R) := \mathrm{Mag}(X,R \cdot \mathrm{d}) of a convex body X nX \subset \mathbb{R}^n with Euclidean distance d\mathrm{d} captures classical geometric information about XX:

X(R)= 1n!ω nvol n(X)R n+12(n1)!ω n1vol n1(X)R n1++1 = 1n!ω n j=0 nc j(X)R nj\begin{aligned} \mathcal{M}_X(R) =& \frac{1}{n! \omega_n} \mathrm{vol}_n(X)\ R^n + \frac{1}{2(n-1)! \omega_{n-1}} \mathrm{vol}_{n-1}(\partial X)\ R^{n-1} + \cdots + 1 \\ =& \frac{1}{n! \omega_n} \sum_{j=0}^n c_j(X)\ R^{n-j} \end{aligned}

where c j(X)=γ j,nV j(X)c_j(X) = \gamma_{j,n} V_j(X) is proportional to the jj-th intrinsic volume V jV_j of XX and ω n\omega_n is the volume of the unit ball in n\mathbb{R}^n.

Even more basic geometric questions have remained unknown, including:

  • What geometric content is encoded in X\mathcal{M}_X?
  • What can be said about the magnitude function of the unit disk B 2 2B_2 \subset \mathbb{R}^2?

We discuss in this post how these questions led us to possible relations to information geometry. We would love to hear from you:

  • Is magnitude an interesting invariant for information geometry?
  • Is there a category theoretic motivation, like Lawvere’s view of a metric space as an enriched category?
  • Does the magnitude relate to notions studied in information geometry?
  • Do you have interesting questions about this invariant?
Posted at 11:44 AM UTC | Permalink | Followups (10)