Yoneda lemma

In mathematics, the Yoneda lemma is arguably the most important result in category theory.[1] It is an abstract result on functors of the type morphisms into a fixed object. It is a vast generalisation of Cayley's theorem from group theory (viewing a group as a miniature category with just one object and only isomorphisms). It allows the embedding of any locally small category into a category of functors (contravariant set-valued functors) defined on that category. It also clarifies how the embedded category, of representable functors and their natural transformations, relates to the other objects in the larger functor category. It is an important tool that underlies several modern developments in algebraic geometry and representation theory. It is named after Nobuo Yoneda.

The Yoneda embedding is sometimes denoted by よ, the Hiragana kana Yo.[2]

The Yoneda embedding essentially states that for every (locally small) category, objects in that category can be represented by presheaves, in a full and faithful manner. That is,

for a presheaf P. Many common categories are, in fact, categories of pre-sheaves, and on closer inspection, prove to be categories of sheaves, and as such examples are commonly topological in nature, they can be seen to be topoi in general. The Yoneda lemma provides a point of leverage by which the topological structure of a category can be studied and understood.

A preadditive category is a category where the morphism sets form abelian groups and the composition of morphisms is bilinear; examples are categories of abelian groups or modules. In a preadditive category, there is both a "multiplication" and an "addition" of morphisms, which is why preadditive categories are viewed as generalizations of rings. Rings are preadditive categories with one object.

Yoshiki Kinoshita stated in 1996 that the term "Yoneda lemma" was coined by Saunders Mac Lane following an interview he had with Yoneda.[5]