Category Theory for the Sciences (MIT Press)

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9780262028134: Category Theory for the Sciences (MIT Press)

An introduction to category theory as a rigorous, flexible, and coherent modeling language that can be used across the sciences.

Category theory was invented in the 1940s to unify and synthesize different areas in mathematics, and it has proven remarkably successful in enabling powerful communication between disparate fields and subfields within mathematics. This book shows that category theory can be useful outside of mathematics as a rigorous, flexible, and coherent modeling language throughout the sciences. Information is inherently dynamic; the same ideas can be organized and reorganized in countless ways, and the ability to translate between such organizational structures is becoming increasingly important in the sciences. Category theory offers a unifying framework for information modeling that can facilitate the translation of knowledge between disciplines.

Written in an engaging and straightforward style, and assuming little background in mathematics, the book is rigorous but accessible to non-mathematicians. Using databases as an entry to category theory, it begins with sets and functions, then introduces the reader to notions that are fundamental in mathematics: monoids, groups, orders, and graphs -- categories in disguise. After explaining the "big three" concepts of category theory -- categories, functors, and natural transformations -- the book covers other topics, including limits, colimits, functor categories, sheaves, monads, and operads. The book explains category theory by examples and exercises rather than focusing on theorems and proofs. It includes more than 300 exercises, with solutions.

Category Theory for the Sciences is intended to create a bridge between the vast array of mathematical concepts used by mathematicians and the models and frameworks of such scientific disciplines as computation, neuroscience, and physics.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Author:

This book is designed to be read by scientists and other people. It has very few mathematical prerequisites; for example, it doesn't require calculus, linear algebra, or statistics. It starts by reintroducing the basics: What is a set? What is a function between sets?

That said, having a teacher or resident expert will be very helpful. Category theory is a "paradigm shift"---it's a new way of looking at things. If you progress past the first few chapters, you'll see that it's a language for having very big thoughts and making unusually deep analogies.

To make real progress in this book (unless you're used to reading university-level math books on your own) it will be useful to periodically check your understanding with someone who has some training in the subject. Seek out a math grad student or even a Haskell expert to help you. A growing number of people are learning basic category theory.

In order to really learn this material, a formal teacher or a professor would be best. Encourage your local university math department to offer a course in Category Theory for the Sciences. I can recommend this in good faith, because I went to special efforts to make this book available for free online. An old version of the book exists on the math arXiv, and a new MIT Press-edited version exists in HTML form on their website (see URLs below). That said, the print version, available here on Amazon and elsewhere, is much easier to read, if you want to get serious and you can afford it.

 This book contains about 300 exercises and solutions. For those who wish to teach a course in the subject, there are 193 additional exercises and solutions behind a professors-only wall on the MIT Press website (see URL below). You simply have to request access.

To everyone: I hope you enjoy the book, and get a lot out of it!

Old version: arxiv.org/abs/1302.6946
HTML version: mitpress.mit.edu/books/category-theory-sciences 

About the Author:

David I. Spivak is a Research Scientist in the Department of Mathematics at MIT.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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