## Enriched Categories

I’d like to move on now to another way of blending various structures. We’ve seen that in certain situations the set of morphisms between two objects in a category naturally has deeper structure itself. For example, the set of homomorphisms between two abelian groups is itself an abelian group, because abelian groups are modules over the commutative ring . More generally, the set of homomorphisms between two -modules naturally has the structure of a -module, and sometimes more.

We need a good way of talking about this sort of thing, where we replace hom *sets* by “hom *objects*” in some other category . When this happens we say that our category is “enriched” over . So to rephrase what I said above, the category of -modules is enriched over . Similarly, locally small categories are enriched over .

When we talk about categories — which usually for us means locally small categories — we are implicitly using a number of properties of . In particular, to set up compositions we need to be able to take pairs of morphisms, which the cartesian product handles for us nicely: . We also need to be able to pick out a special morphism in each set of endomorphisms to be the identity, which we can take to be the image of a function from a one-point set to the set of endomorphisms sort of like we did for monoid objects.

For setting up the relations a category must satisfy we need to be able to build triples from pairs in two ways:

We also need to pair a morphism with a (unique) identity morphism:

What are the important properties of the category of sets that make it useful for these purposes? It’s just the fact that equipped with finite products (including a singleton set as terminal object) is a monoidal category! So let’s take a monoidal category — a useful example to have always at hand is — and try to use it for enrichment. As we proceed, we’ll write for the underlying regular category (that is, forget that is monoidal).

So, given such a monoidal category we’ll define a -category to consist of a class of objects , and for each pair of objects a “hom-object” . For each triple of objects there is a composition . For each object there is an “identity”, described by an arrow .

I’ll be spending some time on this, so let’s leave it at the definition for now. Go through and unpack it for the case of an -category, and see what the definition says such a thing should look like.

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Pingback by Enriched Categories II « The Unapologetic Mathematician | August 14, 2007 |

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Comment by Dr. Charalampos MELETIS | May 31, 2008 |

[...] category of matrices is actually enriched over the category of vector spaces over . This means that each set of morphisms is actually a [...]

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[...] represent the functor. Now, I believe that this means that the category of schemes over is enriched over itself, though I’ve never seen anyone say that, so I’m not sure if it’s [...]

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[...] a monoid is just a category with a single object. Similarly, an -algebra is just like a monoid but enriched over the category of vector spaces over . That is, it’s a one-object category with an [...]

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