TY - JOUR

T1 - Elementary remarks on units in monoidal categories

AU - Kock, Joachim

N1 - Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. Part of this work was carried out while I was a postdoc at the Université du Québec à Montréal, supported by a CIRGET grant. I wish to thank everybody at the UQÀM, and André Joyal in particular, for a wonderful year in Montréal. Presently I am supported by a Ramón y Cajal fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. I am grateful to Robin Houston for some interesting observations included in the text.

PY - 2008/1

Y1 - 2008/1

N2 - We explore an alternative definition of unit in a monoidal category originally due to Saavedra: a Saavedra unit is a cancellable idempotent (in a 1-categorical sense). This notion is more economical than the usual notion in terms of left-right constraints, and is motivated by higher category theory. To start, we describe the semi-monoidal category of all possible unit structures on a given semi-monoidal category and observe that it is contractible (if non-empty). Then we prove that the two notions of units are equivalent in a strong functorial sense. Next, it is shown that the unit compatibility condition for a (strong) monoidal functor is precisely the condition for the functor to lift to the categories of units, and it is explained how the notion of Saavedra unit naturally leads to the equivalent non-algebraic notion of fair monoidal category, where the contractible multitude of units is considered as a whole instead of choosing one unit. To finish, the lax version of the unit comparison is considered. The paper is self-contained. All arguments are elementary, some of them of a certain beauty.

AB - We explore an alternative definition of unit in a monoidal category originally due to Saavedra: a Saavedra unit is a cancellable idempotent (in a 1-categorical sense). This notion is more economical than the usual notion in terms of left-right constraints, and is motivated by higher category theory. To start, we describe the semi-monoidal category of all possible unit structures on a given semi-monoidal category and observe that it is contractible (if non-empty). Then we prove that the two notions of units are equivalent in a strong functorial sense. Next, it is shown that the unit compatibility condition for a (strong) monoidal functor is precisely the condition for the functor to lift to the categories of units, and it is explained how the notion of Saavedra unit naturally leads to the equivalent non-algebraic notion of fair monoidal category, where the contractible multitude of units is considered as a whole instead of choosing one unit. To finish, the lax version of the unit comparison is considered. The paper is self-contained. All arguments are elementary, some of them of a certain beauty.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=39049131971&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/S0305004107000679

DO - 10.1017/S0305004107000679

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:39049131971

SN - 0305-0041

VL - 144

SP - 53

EP - 76

JO - Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society

JF - Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society

IS - 1

ER -