Posts tagged ‘free algebra’
A large class of monads is actually derived from operads: basic examples form monads in the category of sets and associate to a set X a set TX of abstract “terms” made of elements of X. For example, the monad of vector spaces I mentioned in the previous post is such a monad, and associates to a set the abstract linear combinations of its elements.
Operads are a generic structure giving a more precise definition of these terms. An operad is an abstract set of operations of various arities (an ugly word to precise the number or arguments taken by an operation: a ternary operation is said to have arity three), subject to relations between them or their compositions. For example, the operad of vector spaces consists of two basic operations: sum and product by scalars (which are actually infinitely many operations), which are tied by distributivity, commutativity and associativity among other relations. An example of operation in this operad is , which is a ternary operation.