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+ 4.1 Products

In a category, given two objects \(T_0\) and \(T_1\) a product is an object \(P\) together with two arrows: \[\prj_{P,0}: P \rightarrow T_0\] \[\prj_{P,1}: P \rightarrow T_1\] called projections, satisfying the condition that for any object \(Z\) and arrows \(f_0:Z\rightarrow T_0\) and \(f_1:Z\rightarrow T_1\) then there exists a unique arrow \(\alpha: Z\rightarrow P\) such that \[ \alpha \cdot \prj_{P,0} = f_0 \] and \[ \alpha \cdot \prj_{P,1} = f_1 \]

It can be shown products are unique up to isomorphism. When there is a unique product, or there is a canonical product, we sometimes use the notation \[ T_0 \times T_1 \] to denote it.

+ 4.1.1 Example: sets.

In \(\bf Set\) the usual Cartesian product of two sets \(T_0\) and \(T_1\)\ denoted by \(T_0 \times T_1\) consisting of pairs of values \((t_0, t_1)\) where \(t_0 \in T_0\) and \(t_1 \in T_1\) with projections \[ \prj_{T_0 \times T_1, 0} (t_0, t_1) = t_0 \] and \[ \prj_{T_0 \times T_1, 1} (t_0, t_1) = t_1 \] is a product.

+ 4.1.2 Example: C structs.

In the category of C types and function semantics,

struct P 
  T_0 t_0; 
  T_1 t_1; 

T_0 prj0 (P p) { return p.t_0; }
T_1 prj1 (P p) { return p.t_1; }

the structure P is a product object and prj0 and prj1 are encodings of suitable projections. However in C, one observes an expression like


is really the application of a projection, and consequently it is usually to think of the field t_0 of the structure as the projection.

+ 4.1.3 Example: Felix tuples

In Felix a tuple is the canonical product.

  var x : int * long = 1, 2L;
  var a : int = x . 0;
  var b : long = x . 1;

Here, the field numbers 0 and 1 are used as projections. The comma operator is used to construct a product from values, and the asterisk operator is used to denote the tuple product of two types.

+ 4.2 N-ary products

So far we have defined the product of two objects. Clearly, we can generalise to finite \(n \ge 2 \).

For the singleton case \(n = 1\) we can identify the product of one object with the object itself, and with the identity function taken as the projection.

+ 4.3 Terminal object

That leaves the empty product, which is called a terminal object. An object \(I\) is called terminal if for any object \(Z\) there is a unique arrow \(Z\rightarrow I\).

+ 4.3.1 Example: Felix

In Felix, the value () denotes an empty tuple, it has the type unit also written 1. It is terminal because any function to type unit maps all values of the domain to () because there's no where else to map to.

+ 4.3.2 Elements

Conversely, any function from a terminal object can only pick out one value of the codomain. Therefore such an arrow can be identified with a value of the codomain. The set of all such functions, then, corresponds to the set of values.

However, the expression of the concept of elements is entirely abstract; that is, expressed entirely in terms of functions.