Diagonal functor


In category theory, a branch of mathematics, the diagonal functor is given by , which maps objects as well as morphisms. This functor can be employed to give a succinct alternate description of the product of objects within the category : a product is a universal arrow from to . The arrow comprises the projection maps.

More generally, given a small index category , one may construct the functor category , the objects of which are called diagrams. For each object in , there is a constant diagram that maps every object in to and every morphism in to . The diagonal functor assigns to each object of the diagram , and to each morphism in the natural transformation in (given for every object of by ). Thus, for example, in the case that is a discrete category with two objects, the diagonal functor is recovered.

Diagonal functors provide a way to define limits and colimits of diagrams. Given a diagram , a natural transformation (for some object of ) is called a cone for . These cones and their factorizations correspond precisely to the objects and morphisms of the comma category , and a limit of is a terminal object in , i.e., a universal arrow . Dually, a colimit of is an initial object in the comma category , i.e., a universal arrow .

If every functor from to has a limit (which will be the case if is complete), then the operation of taking limits is itself a functor from to . The limit functor is the right-adjoint of the diagonal functor. Similarly, the colimit functor (which exists if the category is cocomplete) is the left-adjoint of the diagonal functor. For example, the diagonal functor described above is the left-adjoint of the binary product functor and the right-adjoint of the binary coproduct functor.

See also



  • Awodey, Steve (2006). "Functors and Naturality". Category Theory. pp. 125–158. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198568612.003.0007. ISBN 978-0-19-856861-2.
  • Mac Lane, Saunders; Moerdijk, Ieke (1992). Sheaves in geometry and logic a first introduction to topos theory. New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. 20–23. ISBN 9780387977102.
  • May, J. P. (1999). A Concise Course in Algebraic Topology (PDF). University of Chicago Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-226-51183-9.