## Posts tagged ‘abelian category’

### Monads in mathematics 4 : the bar and cobar constructions

The use of monads and comonads in homological algebra is as old as the theory: Godement’s *standard construction* refers to the use of monads in cohomology theory, and is said to be the first study of a general method for constructing acyclic resolutions. Later the theory was explored in greater depth by Eilenberg, Moore, Barr, Beck. The term *bar resolution* is now most commonly used to describe the process. Monads derived from operads were also studied by Lawvere, Mitchell, Bénabou, under the name of *algebraic theories*, with aim towards topoi and logic.

Bar resolutions (see J. Baez website and the LNM Seminar on Triples and Categorical Homology Theory) are a way to canonically (i.e. functorially) describe an arbitrary algebra over a monad using only free algebras. It is a particular case of definition with *generators and relations* which is often the only way to describe infinite mathematical objects with finite expressions (computer algebra systems usually deal with finitely generated objects, and use generators and relations to describe their elements), but bar resolutions somehow are the universal way of doing this.

Most cohomology theories fit in the framework of bar constructions, though in various apparently unrelated ways. However, a visible common denominator of most constructions is the use of simplicial methods. This makes them of some use in homotopical algebra: bar resolutions are used to define canonical cofibrant resolutions of objects, which explains their uses in definition of derived functors.

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### Extensions and homological algebra

If you ever followed a course in algebra, you may have heard about *extensions* of “things”. Most “things” fit in what is called a *category*, that is, an abstract structure remembering how to compose morphisms between these “things”, and sometimes what is the sum of such “things”, the kernel of a morphism: we are interested in the structure of abelian category, which is the framework of vector spaces, modules over a ring, sheaves of modules… An extension of A by B is an exact sequence

where is the kernel, and is the quotient (cokernel). The *group of extensions * is the set of isomorphism classes of such exact sequences. (more…)

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