In mathematics, the inverse limit (also called the projective limit) is a construction that allows one to "glue together" several related objects, the precise gluing process being specified by morphisms between the objects. Thus, inverse limits can be defined in any category although their existence depends on the category that is considered. They are a special case of the concept of limit in category theory.
In some categories, the inverse limit of certain inverse systems does not exist. If it does, however, it is unique in a strong sense: given any two inverse limits X and X' of an inverse system, there exists a unique isomorphism X′ → X commuting with the projection maps.
(pronounced "lim one") such that if (Ai, fij), (Bi, gij), and (Ci, hij) are three inverse systems of abelian groups, and
The name "Mittag-Leffler" for this condition was given by Bourbaki in their chapter on uniform structures for a similar result about inverse limits of complete Hausdorff uniform spaces. Mittag-Leffler used a similar argument in the proof of Mittag-Leffler's theorem.
The following situations are examples where the Mittag-Leffler condition is satisfied:
More generally, if C is an arbitrary abelian category that has enough injectives, then so does CI, and the right derived functors of the inverse limit functor can thus be defined. The nth right derived functor is denoted
It was thought for almost 40 years that Roos had proved (in Sur les foncteurs dérivés de lim. Applications. ) that lim1 Ai = 0 for (Ai, fij) an inverse system with surjective transition morphisms and I the set of non-negative integers (such inverse systems are often called "Mittag-Leffler sequences"). However, in 2002, Amnon Neeman and Pierre Deligne constructed an example of such a system in a category satisfying (AB4) (in addition to (AB4*)) with lim1 Ai ≠ 0. Roos has since shown (in "Derived functors of inverse limits revisited") that his result is correct if C has a set of generators (in addition to satisfying (AB3) and (AB4*)).
The categorical dual of an inverse limit is a direct limit (or inductive limit). More general concepts are the limits and colimits of category theory. The terminology is somewhat confusing: inverse limits are a class of limits, while direct limits are a class of colimits.