Observations on category theory

Axiomathes 12 (1-2):151-155 (2001)
Abstract
is a presentation of mathematics in terms of the fundamental concepts of transformation, and composition of transformations. While the importance of these concepts had long been recognized in algebra (for example, by Galois through the idea of a group of permutations) and in geometry (for example, by Klein in his Erlanger Programm), the truly universal role they play in mathematics did not really begin to be appreciated until the rise of abstract algebra in the 1930s. In abstract algebra the idea of transformation of structure (homomorphism) was central from the beginning, and it soon became apparent to algebraists that its most important concepts and constructions were in fact formulable in terms of that idea alone. Thus emerged the view that the essence of a mathematical structure is to be sought not in its internal constitution, but rather in the nature of its relationships with other structures of the same kind, as manifested through the network of transformations. This idea has achieved its fullest expression in category theory, an axiomatic framework within which the notions of transformation (as morphism or arrow) and composition (and also structure, as object) are fundamental, that is, are not defined in terms of anything else.
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