This course is an introduction to the basic tenets of category theory, as formulated and illustrated through examples drawn from algebra, calculus, geometry, set theory, topology, number theory, and linear algebra.

Category theory, since its development in the 1940s, has assumed an increasingly center-stage role in formalizing mathematics and providing tools to diverse scientific disciplines, most notably computer science. A category is fundamentally a family of mathematical obejcts (e.g., numbers, vector spaces, groups, topological spaces) along with “mappings” (so-called morphisms) between these objects that, in some defined sense, preserve structure. Taking it one step further, one can consider morphisms (so-called functors) between categories. This course is an introduction to the basic tenets of category theory, as formulated and illustrated through examples drawn from algebra, calculus, geometry, set theory, topology, number theory, and linear algebra. Topics to be discussed include: isomorphism; products and coproducts; dual categories; covariant, contravariant, and adjoint functors; abelian and additive categories; and the Yoneda Lemma. The course should appeal to devotees of mathematical reasoning, computer scientists, and those wishing to gain basic insights into a hot area of mathematics.

January 8, 2019 - March 19, 2019
Tuesday 7:00PM - 10:00PM
Location: UCLA
Instructor: Michael Miller
Fee: $453.00

The new catalog is out today and Mike Miller’s Winter class in Category Theory has been officially announced.

Oddly, it wasn’t listed in the published physical catalog, but it’s available online. I hope that those interested in mathematics will register as well as those who are interested in computer science.

Last night was the first lecture of Dr. Miller’s Gems And Astonishments of Mathematics: Past and Present class at UCLA Extension. There are a good 15 or so people in the class, so there’s still room (and time) to register if you’re interested. While Dr. Miller typically lectures on one broad topic for a quarter (or sometimes two) in which the treatment continually builds heavy complexity over time, this class will cover 1-2 much smaller particular mathematical problems each week. Thus week 11 won’t rely on knowing all the material from the prior weeks, which may make things easier for some who are overly busy. If you have the time on Tuesday nights and are interested in math or love solving problems, this is an excellent class to consider. If you’re unsure, stop by one of the first lectures on Tuesday nights from 7-10 to check them out before registering.

Lecture notes

For those who may have missed last night’s first lecture, I’m linking to a Livescribe PDF document which includes the written notes as well as the accompanying audio from the lecture. If you view it in Acrobat Reader version X (or higher), you should be able to access the audio portion of the lecture and experience it in real time almost as if you had been present in person. (Instructions for using Livescribe PDF documents.)

We’ve covered the following topics:

Class Introduction

Erdős Discrepancy Problem

n-cubes

Hilbert’s Cube Lemma (1892)

Schur (1916)

Van der Waerden (1927)

Sylvester’s Line Problem (partial coverage to be finished in the next lecture)

Over the coming days and months, I’ll likely bookmark some related papers and research on these and other topics in the class using the class identifier MATHX451.44 as a tag in addition to topic specific tags.

Course Description

Mathematics has evolved over the centuries not only by building on the work of past generations, but also through unforeseen discoveries or conjectures that continue to tantalize, bewilder, and engage academics and the public alike. This course, the first in a two-quarter sequence, is a survey of about two dozen problems—some dating back 400 years, but all readily stated and understood—that either remain unsolved or have been settled in fairly recent times. Each of them, aside from presenting its own intrigue, has led to the development of novel mathematical approaches to problem solving. Topics to be discussed include (Google away!): Conway’s Look and Say Sequences, Kepler’s Conjecture, Szilassi’s Polyhedron, the ABC Conjecture, Benford’s Law, Hadamard’s Conjecture, Parrondo’s Paradox, and the Collatz Conjecture. The course should appeal to devotees of mathematical reasoning and those wishing to keep abreast of recent and continuing mathematical developments.

Suggested Prerequisites

Some exposure to advanced mathematical methods, particularly those pertaining to number theory and matrix theory. Most in the class are taking the course for “fun” and the enjoyment of learning, so there is a huge breadth of mathematical abilities represented–don’t not take the course because you feel you’ll get lost.

I’d complained to the UCLA administration before about how dirty the windows were in the Math Sciences Building, but they went even further than I expected in fixing the problem. Not only did they clean the windows they put in new flooring, brand new modern chairs, wood paneling on the walls, new projection, and new white boards! I particularly love the new swivel chairs, and it’s nice to have such a lovely new environment in which to study math.

Category Theory for Winter 2019

As I mentioned the other day, Dr. Miller has also announced (and reiterated last night) that he’ll be teaching a course on the topic of Category Theory for the Winter quarter coming up. Thus if you’re interested in abstract mathematics or areas of computer programming that use it, start getting ready!

Tai-Danae Bradley has a new free “booklet” on applied category theory. It was inspired by the workshop Applied Category Theory 2018, which she attended, and I think it makes a great com…

Syndicated copies to:

As I get amped up for the start of Mike Miller’s Fall math class Gems and Astonishments of Mathematics, which is still open for registration, I’m even more excited that he’s emailed me to say that he’ll be teaching Category Theory for the Winter Quarter in 2019!!

This is a collection of introductory, expository notes on applied category theory, inspired by the 2018 Applied Category Theory Workshop, and in these notes we take a leisurely stroll through two themes (functorial semantics and compositionality), two constructions (monoidal categories and decorated cospans) and two examples (chemical reaction networks and natural language processing) within the field. [PDF]

hat tip:

Friends! I am so happy to share that my little booklet “What is Applied Category Theory?” is now available on the arXiv. It’s a collection of introductory, expository notes inspired by the ACT workshop that took place earlier this year. Enjoy! https://t.co/EPYP19z14xpic.twitter.com/O4uVhj401s

This book introduces a temporal type theory, the first of its kind as far as we know. It is based on a standard core, and as such it can be formalized in a proof assistant such as Coq or Lean by adding a number of axioms. Well-known temporal logics---such as Linear and Metric Temporal Logic (LTL and MTL)---embed within the logic of temporal type theory.
The types in this theory represent "behavior types". The language is rich enough to allow one to define arbitrary hybrid dynamical systems, which are mixtures of continuous dynamics---e.g. as described by a differential equation---and discrete jumps. In particular, the derivative of a continuous real-valued function is internally defined.
We construct a semantics for the temporal type theory in the topos of sheaves on a translation-invariant quotient of the standard interval domain. In fact, domain theory plays a recurring role in both the semantics and the type theory.

hat tip:

This morning at ACT2018, David Spivak gave a VERY cool talk on using topos theory to model how airplanes can maintain a safe distance from each other in flight. You can watch the talk here! https://t.co/pUXZhj6SXA Also check out “Temporal Type Theory” at https://t.co/6LWNOQWtqwpic.twitter.com/7x9yjBwVIA

Dear god, I wish Ilyas had a traditional blog with a true feed, but I’m willing to put up with the inconvenience of manually looking him up from time to time to see what he’s writing about quantum mechanics, quantum computing, category theory, and other areas of math.

This short article is the result of various conversations over the course of the past year or so that arose on the back of two articles/blog pieces that I have previously written about Category Theory (here and here). One of my objectives with such articles, whether they be on aspects of quantum computing or about aspects of maths, is to try and de-mystify as much of the associated jargon as possible, and bring some of the stunning beauty and wonder of the subject to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst it is clearly not possible to become an expert overnight, and it is certainly not my objective to try and provide more than an introduction (hopefully stimulating further research and study), I remain convinced that with a little effort, non-specialists and even self confessed math-phobes can grasp some of the core concepts. In the case of my articles on Category Theory, I felt that even if I could generate one small gasp of excited comprehension where there was previously only confusion, then the articles were worth writing.

I just finished a course on Algebraic Geometry through UCLA Extension, which was geared toward non-traditional math students and professionals, and wish I had known about Smith’s textbook when I’d started. I did spend some time with Cox, Little, and O’Shea’s Ideals, Varieties, and Algorithms which is a pretty good introduction to the area, but written a bit more for computer scientists and engineers in mind rather than the pure mathematician, which might recommend it more toward your audience here as well. It’s certainly more accessible than Hartshorne for the faint-of-heart.

I’ve enjoyed your prior articles on category theory which have spurred me to delve deeper into the area. For others who are interested, I thought I’d also mention that physicist and information theorist John Carlos Baez at UCR has recently started an applied category theory online course which I suspect is a bit more accessible than most of the higher graduate level texts and courses currently out. For more details, I’d suggest starting here: https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/seven-sketches-in-compositionality/

This book is an invitation to discover advanced topics in category theory through concrete, real-world examples. It aims to give a tour: a gentle, quick introduction to guide later exploration. The tour takes place over seven sketches, each pairing an evocative application, such as databases, electric circuits, or dynamical systems, with the exploration of a categorical structure, such as adjoint functors, enriched categories, or toposes. No prior knowledge of category theory is assumed. [.pdf]

Some awesome news just as I’ve wrapped up a class on Algebraic Geometry and was actively looking to delve into some category theory over the summer. John Carlos Baez announced that he’s going to offer an online course in applied category theory. He’s also already posted some videos and details!

There is a proof for Brouwer's Fixed Point Theorem that uses a bridge - or portal - between geometry and algebra.
Analogous to the relationship between geometry and algebra, there is a mathematical “portal” from a looser version of geometry -- topology -- to a more “sophisticated” version of algebra. This portal can take problems that are very difficult to solve topologically, and recast them in an algebraic light, where the answers may become easier.
Written and Hosted by Tai-Danae Bradley;
Produced by Rusty Ward;
Graphics by Ray Lux;
Assistant Editing and Sound Design by Mike Petrow and Meah Denee Barrington;
Made by Kornhaber Brown (www.kornhaberbrown.com)

I had originally started following Tai-Danae Bradley on Instagram having found her account via the #math tag. Turns out she’s burning up the world explaining some incredibly deep and complex mathematics in relatively simple terms. If you’re into math and not following her work already, get with the program. She’s awesome!

While this particular video leaves out a masters degree’s worth of detail, it does show some incredibly powerful mathematics by analogy. The overall presentation and descriptions are quite solid for leaving out as much as they do. This may be some of the best math-based science communication I’ve seen in quite a while.

I must say that I have to love and laugh at the depth and breadth of the comments on the video too. At best, this particular video, which seems to me to be geared toward high school or early college viewers and math generalists, aims to introduce come general topics and outline an incredibly complex proof in under 9 minutes. People are taking it to task for omitting “too much”! To completely understand and encapsulate the entirety of the topics at hand one would need coursework including a year’s worth of algebra, a year’s worth of topology including some algebraic topology, and a minimum of a few months worth of category theory. Even with all of these, to fill in all the particular details, I could easily see a professor spending an hour at the chalkboard filling in the remainder without any significant handwaving. The beauty of what she’s done is to give a very motivating high level perspective on the topic to get people more interested in these areas and what can be done with them. For the spirit of the piece, one might take her to task a bit for not giving more credit to the role Category Theory is playing in the picture, but then anyone interested is going to spend some time on her blog to fill in a lot of those holes. I’d challenge any of the comments out there to attempt to do what she’s done in under 9 minutes and do it better.

Lecture one of six in an introductory set of lectures on category theory.

Take Away from the lecture: Morphisms are just as important as the objects that they morph. Many different types of mathematical constructions are best described using morphisms instead of elements. (This isn’t how things are typically taught however.)

Would have been nice to have some more discussion of the required background for those new to the broader concept. There were a tremendous number of examples from many areas of higher math that many viewers wouldn’t have previously had. I think it’s important for them to know that if they don’t understand a particular example, they can move on without much loss as long as they can attempt to apply the ideas to an area of math they are familiar with. Having at least a background in linear algebra and/or group theory are a reasonable start here.

In some of the intro examples it would have been nice to have seen at least one more fully fleshed out to better demonstrate the point before heading on to the multiple others which encourage the viewer to prove some of the others on their own.

Thanks for these Steven, I hope you keep making more! There’s such a dearth of good advanced math lectures on the web, I hope these encourage others to make some of their own as well.

I’d read a portion of this in the past, but thought I’d circle back to it when I saw it sitting on the shelf at the library before the holidays. It naturally helps to have had lots of physics in the past, but this has a phenomenally clear and crisp presentation of just the basics in a way that is seldom if ever seen in actual physics textbooks.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Lecture One: The Nature of Classical Physics

There is a very simple rule to tell when a diagram represents a deterministic reversible law. If every state has a single unique arrow leading into it, and a single arrow leading out of it, then it is a legal deterministic reversible law.

Highlight (yellow) – 1. The Nature of Classical Physics > Page 9

There’s naturally a much more sophisticated and subtle mathematical way of saying this. I feel like I’ve been constantly tempted to go back and look at more category theory, and this may be yet another motivator. Added on Wednesday, January 4, 2018 late evening

The rule that dynamical laws must be deterministic and reversible is so central to classical physics that we sometimes forget to mention it when teaching the subject. […] minus-first law [: …] undoubtedly the most fundamental of all physics laws–the conservation of information. The conservation of information is simply the rule that every state has one arrow in and one arrow out. It ensures that you never lose track of where you started.

Highlight (yellow) – 1. The Nature of Classical Physics > Page 9-10

This is very simply and naturally stated, but holds a lot of complexity. Again I’d like to come back and do some serious formalization of this and reframe it in a category theory frameork. Added on Wednesday, January 4, 2018 late evening

There is evan a zeroth law […]

Highlight (gray) – 1. The Nature of Classical Physics > Page 9

spelling should be even; I’m also noticing a lot of subtle typesetting issues within the physical production of the book that are driving me a bit crazy. Spaces where they don’t belong or text not having clear margins at the tops/bottoms of pages. I suspect the math and layout of diagrams and boxes in the text caused a lot of problems in their usual production flow. Added on Wednesday, January 4, 2018 late evening

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word Green–Reference to read Blue–Interesting Quote Gray–Typography Problem Red–Example to work through

I'd like to embark on yet another mini-series here on the blog. The topic this time? Limits and colimits in category theory! But even if you're not familiar with category theory, I do hope you'll keep reading. Today's post is just an informal, non-technical introduction. And regardless of your categorical background, you've certainly come across many examples of limits and colimits, perhaps without knowing it! They appear everywhere - in topology, set theory, group theory, ring theory, linear algebra, differential geometry, number theory, algebraic geometry. The list goes on. But before diving in, I'd like to start off by answering a few basic questions.

A great little introduction to category theory! Can’t wait to see what the future installments bring.

Interestingly I came across this on Instagram. It may be one of the first times I’ve seen math at this level explained in pictorial form via Instagram.