Centre of Australian Category Theory
Currently funded projects
Project: Structural homotopy theory: a category-theoretic study (2013-2016)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP130101969
Personnel: Ross Street (CI), Stephen Lack (CI), Dominic Verity (CI), Richard Garner (CI)
Summary: A key tension in mathematics is that between algebra and geometry: whilst geometry gives spatial intuition, algebra provides computational tractability. Homotopy theory uses algebra to study that part of geometry known as topology; but over the past 20 years, startling new discoveries have shown that it plays a much broader role, mediating between such disciplines as algebraic geometry, higher category theory, and algebraic K-theory. These recent advances have almost all been cast in the language of category theory, without taking full advantage of its methodology. Our project will apply this methodology to homotopy theory, using the vast body of work in higher and enriched category theory developed in Sydney over the last forty years.
Project: Enriched higher category theory (2013-2016)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP130101172
Personnel: Michael Batanin (CI), Martin Markl (PI), Clemens Berger (PI)
Summary: Higher category theory is a very young branch of mathematics (less then 20 years old), which has already became a vital tool in many areas of mathematics and theoretical physics such as algebra, geometry, topology, mathematical logic, quantum field theory and computer science. The impact of higher category theory for the future development of mathematics and physics will be immense. In its present shape, however, this theory is technically very difficult. The challenge is to find an approach to this theory which would allow to make it transparent and accessible for the wider scientific community. In our project we are going to propose such an approach and we will study its application to important open problems in geometry and topology.
Project: Algebraic Categories and Categorical Algebra (2012-2015)
Scheme: ARC Future Fellowship, grant number FT110100385
Personnel: Stephen Lack (CI)
Summary: Algebra is the study of operations, such as addition and multiplication, and the relationships between these operations. It is fundamental to all areas of mathematics as well as quantitative and qualitative aspects of other fields. Despite two thousand years of study, many important questions remain open. Recently the types of operations considered and the sorts of relationships that hold between them have undergone a vast generalization, motivated by the needs of related fields such as geometry, physics, and computing. This project will study two new branches of algebra, here called quantum algebra and postmodern algebra, using the latest techniques from category theory. It will lead to a deeper understanding in these related fields.
Project: Generalised Topological Spaces (2011-2016)
Scheme: ARC Australian Research Fellowship, grant number DP110102360.
Personnel: Richard Garner (CI)
Summary: A central concept in mathematics and physics is that of a continuous function: one for which small perturbations in input cause only small changes in output. To express the continuity of a function requires a notion of "nearness" between points; and this is encapsulated in the abstract notion of topological space. Such spaces are a powerful unifying tool in mathematics, allowing structures in algebra, topology, logic and geometry to be compared and classified. In this project, we aim to generalise the notion of topological space in order to obtain a framework within which we may describe and compare the weakened, perturbed, and higher-dimensional topological structures that are playing an increasingly important role in modern mathematics.
Recently funded projects
Project: Applicable Categorical Structures (2010-2013)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP1094883
Personnel: Ross Street (Chief Investigator), Michael Johnson (CI), Stephen Lack (CI), Dominic Verity (CI)
Summary: Sets with structure are to modern mathematics what numbers were to the ancients. Such structures can often be modelled in monoidal categories vastly different from the category of sets. In algebraic cases, there are free structures formed from symbols with no extra relations beyond those required to express the structure. Often, also, examples of such models in categories whose ingredients are geometric concepts (such as tangles on strings or cobordisms) have freeness properties that involve moving out of that base geometric category. This kind of freeness has allowed the construction of important invariants of geometric figures. Our project will study both theoretical and applied aspects of this encompassing schema.
Project: Functorial operadic calculus (2010-2013)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP1095346
Personnel: Michael Batanin (CI), Clemens Berger (PI)
Summary: Substitution is one of the first mathematical operations (perhaps, next to addition) everybody learns in primary school. It is so routine that we rarely notice it in our everyday life even though we perform this operation every time we count almost anything. The aim of my project is to show that, precisely because substitution is so basic and natural, this is one of the most fundamental and far reaching concepts in mathematics. A deep study of the algebra of such operations will lead to a solution of important open problems in the foundations of mathematics and mathematical physics.
Project: Cohomology enhanced: an application of enriched and higher categories (2007-2010)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP0771252
Personnel: Ross Street (CI), Michael Johnson (CI), Stephen Lack (CI), Dominic Verity (CI)
Summary: Cohomology has been one of the most powerful tools in the mathematics of the twentieth century, finding applications in all areas of modern mathematics. It is a technique for understanding and classifying complex mathematical structures in simpler terms. The current project involves a radical expansion in scope of the information extracted from these mathematical structures, using the most recent advances in enriched and higher dimensional category theory.
Project: Categorical Structures in String Theory (2006-2009)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP0663514
Personnel: Ross Street (CI)
Summary: General relativity and quantum field theory are used in physics to explain all the forces of nature. The most promising candidate for the unification of these two fundamental theories is string theory. String theory has exposed exciting mathematical challenges both on the geometric and algebraic side, and for linking those two sides. Category theory has excelled in expressing such linkages in other fields and our proposal details how we plan to use our categorical expertise in string theory. Our results will then feed back into physics.
Project: Foundation of higher dimensional homological algebra (2005-2008)
Scheme: ARC Discovery Projects, grant number DP0558372
Personnel: Michael Batanin (CI), Mark Weber
Summary: `Homotopical Mathematics' is a term introduced recently to designate a rapidly developing methodology. It is based on the substitution of set theoretical notions by homotopy theoretical notions in a large part of mathematics relevant to geometry and physics. This approach has already produced spectacular applications in algebraic geometry, topology and mathematical physics. Homological algebra lies at the heart of this approach, yet its further development and application require clear and consistent foundations. In our project we intend to construct such foundations, using methods of Higher Category Theory. As an outcome, proof of important conjectures from both areas will arise naturally.