Closed String Algebra as a Graded-Commutative Algebra C: Cochain Complex Differentials: Part 2, Note Quote.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 11.13.06 AM

The most general target category we can consider is a symmetric tensor category: clearly we need a tensor product, and the axiom HY1⊔Y2 ≅ HY1 ⊗ HY2 only makes sense if there is an involutory canonical isomorphism HY1 ⊗ HY2 ≅ HY2 ⊗ HY1 .

A very common choice in physics is the category of super vector spaces, i.e., vector spaces V with a mod 2 grading V = V0 ⊕ V1, where the canonical isomorphism V ⊗ W ≅ W ⊗ V is v ⊗ w ↦ (−1)deg v deg ww ⊗ v. One can also consider the category of Z-graded vector spaces, with the same sign convention for the tensor product.

In either case the closed string algebra is a graded-commutative algebra C with a trace θ : C → C. In principle the trace should have degree zero, but in fact the commonly encountered theories have a grading anomaly which makes the trace have degree −n for some integer n.

We define topological-spinc theories, which model 2d theories with N = 2 supersymmetry, by replacing “manifolds” with “manifolds with spinc structure”.

A spinc structure on a surface with a conformal structure is a pair of holomorphic line bundles L1, L2 with an isomorphism L1 ⊗ L2 ≅ TΣ of holomorphic line bundles. A spin structure is the particular case when L1 = L2. On a 1-manifold S a spinc structure means a spinc structure on a ribbon neighbourhood of S in a surface with conformal structure. An N = 2 superconformal theory assigns a vector space HS;L1,L2 to each 1-manifold S with spinc structure, and an operator

US0;L1,L2: HS0;L1,L2 → HS1;L1,L2

to each spinc-cobordism from S0 to S1. To explain the rest of the structure we need to define the N = 2 Lie superalgebra associated to a spin1-manifold (S;L1,L2). Let G = Aut(L1) denote the group of bundle isomorphisms L1 → L1 which cover diffeomorphisms of S. (We can identify this group with Aut(L2).) It has a homomorphism onto the group Diff+(S) of orientation-preserving diffeomorphisms of S, and the kernel is the group of fibrewise automorphisms of L1, which can be identified with the group of smooth maps from S to C×. The Lie algebra Lie(G) is therefore an extension of the Lie algebra Vect(S) of Diff+(S) by the commutative Lie algebra Ω0(S) of smooth real-valued functions on S. Let Λ0S;L1,L2 denote the complex Lie algebra obtained from Lie(G) by complexifying Vect(S). This is the even part of a Lie super algebra whose odd part is Λ1S;L1,L2 = Γ(L1) ⊕ Γ(L2). The bracket Λ1 ⊗ Λ1 → Λ0 is completely determined by the property that elements of Γ(L1) and of Γ(L2) anticommute among themselves, while the composite

Γ(L1) ⊗ Γ(L2) → Λ0 → VectC(S)

takes (λ12) to λ1λ2 ∈ Γ(TS).

In an N = 2 theory we require the superalgebra Λ(S;L1,L2) to act on the vector space HS;L1,L2, compatibly with the action of the group G, and with a similar intertwining property with the cobordism operators to that of the N = 1 case. For an N = 2 theory the state space always has an action of the circle group coming from its embedding in G as the group of fibrewise multiplications on L1 and L2. Equivalently, the state space is always Z-graded.

An N = 2 theory always gives rise to two ordinary conformal field theories by equipping a surface Σ with the spinc structures (C,TΣ) and (TΣ,C). These are called the “A-model” and the “B-model” associated to the N = 2 theory. In each case the state spaces are cochain complexes in which the differential is the action of the constant section of the trivial component of the spinc-structure.

Odd symplectic + Odd Poisson Geometry as a Generalization of Symplectic (Poisson) Geometry to the Supercase

A symplectic structure on a manifold M is defined by a non-degenerate closed two-form ω. In a vicinity of an arbitrary point one can consider coordinates (x1, . . . , x2n) such that ω = ∑ni=1 dxidxi+n. Such coordinates are called Darboux coordinates. To a symplectic structure corresponds a non-degenerate Poisson structure { , }. In Darboux coordinates {xi,xj} = 0 if |i−j| ≠ n and {xi,xi+n} = −{xi+n,xi} = 1. The condition of closedness of the two-form ω corresponds to the Jacobi identity {f,{g,h}} + {g,{h,f}} + {h,{f,g}} = 0

for the Poisson bracket. If a symplectic or Poisson structure is given, then every function f defines a vector field (the Hamiltonian vector field) Df such that Dfg = {f,g} = −ω(Df,Dg).

A Poisson structure can be defined independently of a symplectic structure. In general it can be degenerate, i.e., there exist non-constant functions f such that Df = 0. In the case when a Poisson structure is non-degenerate (corresponds to a symplectic structure), the map from T∗M to T M defined by the relation f → Df is an isomorphism.

One can straightforwardly generalize these constructions to the supercase and consider symplectic and Poisson structures (even or odd) on supermanifolds. An even (odd) symplectic structure on a supermanifold is defined by an even (odd) non-degenerate closed two-form. In the same way as the existence of a symplectic structure on an ordinary manifold implies that the manifold is even-dimensional (by the non-degeneracy condition for the form ω), the existence of an even or odd symplectic structure on a supermanifold implies that the dimension of the supermanifold is equal either to (2p.q) for an even structure or to (m.m) for an odd structure. Darboux coordinates exist in both cases. For an even structure, the two-form in Darboux coordinates

zA = (x1,…, x2p1,…, θq) has the form ∑i=1p dxi dxp+i + ∑a=1q εaaa,

where εa = ±1. For an odd structure, the two-form in Darboux coordinates zA = (x1,…,xm1,…,θm) has the form ∑i=1m dxii.

The non-degenerate odd Poisson bracket corresponding to an odd symplectic structure has the following appearance in Darboux coordinates: {xi, xj} = 0, {θij} = 0 for all i,j and {xij} = −{θj,xi} = δji. Thus for arbitrary two functions f, g


where we denote by p(f) the parity of a function f (p(xi) = 0, p(θj) = 1). Similarly one can write down the formulae for the non-degenerate even Poisson structure corresponding to an even symplectic structure.

A Poisson structure (odd or even) can be defined on a supermanifold independently of a symplectic structure as a bilinear operation on functions (bracket) satisfying the following relations taken as axioms:


where ε is the parity of the bracket (ε = 0 for an even Poisson structure and ε = 1 for an odd one). The correspondence between functions and Hamiltonian vector fields is defined in the same way as on ordinary manifolds: Dfg = {f, g}. Notice a possible parity shift: p(Df) = p(f) + ε. Every Hamiltonian vector field Df defines an infinitesimal transformation preserving the Poisson structure (and the corresponding symplectic structure in the case of a non-degenerate Poisson bracket).

Notice that even or odd Poisson structures on an arbitrary supermanifold can be obtained as “derived” brackets from the canonical symplectic structure on the cotangent bundle, in the following way.

Let M be a supermanifold and T∗M be its cotangent bundle. By changing parity of coordinates in the fibres of T∗M we arrive at the supermanifold ΠT ∗M. If zA are arbitrary coordinates on the supermanifold M, then we denote by (zA,pB) the corresponding coordinates on the supermanifold T∗M and by (zA,z∗B) the corresponding coordinates on ΠT∗M: p(zA) = p(pA) = p(z∗A) + 1. If (zA) are another coordinates on M, zA = zA(z′), then the coordinates z∗A transform in the same way as the coordinates pA (and as the partial derivatives ∂/∂zA):

pA = ∂zB(z′)/∂zA pB and z∗A = ∂zB(z′)/∂zA z∗B

One can consider the canonical non-degenerate even Poisson structure { , }0 (the canonical even symplectic structure) on T∗M defined by the relations {zA,zB}0 = {pC,pD}0 = 0, {zA,pB}0 = δBA, and, respectively, the canonical non-degenerate odd Poisson structure { , }1 (the canonical odd symplectic structure) on ΠT∗M defined by the relations {zA,zB}0 = {z∗C,z∗D}0 = 0, {zA,z∗B}0 = δAB.

Now consider Hamiltonians on T∗M or on ΠT∗M that are quadratic in coordinates of the fibres. An arbitrary odd quadratic Hamiltonian on T∗M (an arbitrary even quadratic Hamiltonian on ΠT∗M):

S(z,p) = SABpApB (p(S) = 1) or S(z,z∗) = SABz∗Az∗B (p(S) = 0) —– (1)

satisfying the condition that the canonical Poisson bracket of this Hamiltonian with itself vanishes:

{S,S}0 = 0 or {S,S}1 = 0 —– (2)

defines an odd Poisson structure (an even Poisson structure) on M by the formula

{f,g}Sε+1 = {f,{S,g}ε}ε —–(3)

The Hamiltonian S which generates an odd (even) Poisson structure on M via the canonical even (odd) Poisson structure on T∗M (ΠT∗M) can be called the master Hamiltonian. The bracket is a “derived bracket”. The Jacobi identity for it is equivalent to the vanishing of the canonical Poisson bracket for the master Hamiltonian. One can see that an arbitrary Poisson structure on a supermanifold can be obtained as a derived bracket.

What happens if we change the parity of the master Hamiltonian in (3)? The answer is the following. If S is an even quadratic Hamiltonian on T∗M (an odd quadratic Hamiltonian on ΠT∗M), then the condition of vanishing of the canonical even Poisson bracket { , }0 (the canonical odd Poisson bracket { , }1) becomes empty (it is obeyed automatically) and the relation (3) defines an even Riemannian metric (an odd Riemannian metric) on M.

Formally, odd symplectic (and odd Poisson) geometry is a generalization of symplectic (Poisson) geometry to the supercase. However, there are unexpected analogies between the constructions in odd symplectic geometry and in Riemannian geometry. The construction of derived brackets could explain close relations between odd Poisson structures in supermathematics and the Riemannian geometry.

Badiou’s Diagrammatic Claim of Democratic Materialism Cuts Grothendieck’s Topos. Note Quote.


Let us focus on the more abstract, elementary definition of a topos and discuss materiality in the categorical context. The materiality of being can, indeed, be defined in a way that makes no material reference to the category of Sets itself.

The stakes between being and materiality are thus reverted. From this point of view, a Grothendieck-topos is not one of sheaves over sets but, instead, it is a topos which is not defined based on a specific geometric morphism E → Sets – a materialization – but rather a one for which such a materialization exists only when the topos itself is already intervened by an explicitly given topos similar to Sets. Therefore, there is no need to start with set-theoretic structures like sieves or Badiou’s ‘generic’ filters.

Strong Postulate, Categorical Version: For a given materialization the situation E is faithful to the atomic situation of truth (Setsγ∗(Ω)op) if the materialization morphism itself is bounded and thus logical.

In particular, this alternative definition suggests that materiality itself is not inevitably a logical question. Therefore, for this definition to make sense, let us look at the question of materiality from a more abstract point of view: what are topoi or ‘places’ of reason that are not necessarily material or where the question of materiality differs from that defined against the ‘Platonic’ world of Sets? Can we deploy the question of materiality without making any reference – direct or sheaf-theoretic – to the question of what the objects ‘consist of’, that is, can we think about materiality without crossing Kant’s categorical limit of the object? Elementary theory suggests that we can.

Elementary Topos:  An elementary topos E is a category which

  1. has finite limits, or equivalently E has so called pull-backs and a terminal object 1,
  2. is Cartesian closed, which means that for each object X there is an exponential functor (−)X : E → E which is right adjoint to the functor (−) × X, and finally
  3. axiom of truth E retains an object called the subobject classifier Ω, which is equipped with an arrow 1 →true Ω such that for each monomorphism σ : Y ֒→ X in E, there is a unique classifying map φσ : X → Ω making σ : Y ֒→ X a pull-back of φσ along the arrow true.

Grothendieck-topos: In respect to this categorical definition, a Grothendieck-topos is a topos with the following conditions satisfies:

(1) E has all set-indexed coproducts, and they are disjoint and universal,

(2) equivalence relations in E have universal co-equalisers,

(3) every equivalence relation in E is effective, and every epimorphism in E is a coequaliser,

(4) E has ‘small hom-sets’, i.e. for any two objects X, Y , the morphisms of E from X to Y are parametrized by a set, and finally

(5) E has a set of generators (not necessarily monic in respect to 1 as in the case of locales).

Together the five conditions can be taken as an alternative definition of a Grothendieck-topos. We should still demonstrate that Badiou’s world of T-sets is actually the category of sheaves Shvs (T, J) and that it will, consequentially, hold up to those conditions of a topos listed above. To shift to the categorical setting, one first needs to define a relation between objects. These relations, the so called ‘natural transformations’ we encountered in relation Yoneda lemma, should satisfy conditions Badiou regards as ‘complex arrangements’.

Relation: A relation from the object (A, Idα) to the object (B,Idβ) is a map ρ : A → B such that

Eβ ρ(a) = Eα a and ρ(a / p) = ρ(a) / p.

It is a rather easy consequence of these two pre-suppositions that it respects the order relation ≤ one retains Idα (a, b) ≤ Idβ (ρ(a), ρ(b)) and that if a‡b are two compatible elements, then also ρ(a)‡ρ(b). Thus such a relation itself is compatible with the underlying T-structures.

Given these definitions, regardless of Badiou’s confusion about the structure of the ‘power-object’, it is safe to assume that Badiou has demonstrated that there is at least a category of T-Sets if not yet a topos. Its objects are defined as T-sets situated in the ‘world m’ together with their respective equalization functions Idα. It is obviously Badiou’s ‘diagrammatic’ aim to demonstrate that this category is a topos and, ultimately, to reduce any ‘diagrammatic’ claim of ‘democratic materialism’ to the constituted, non-diagrammatic objects such as T-sets. That is, by showing that the particular set of objects is a categorical makes him assume that every category should take a similar form: a classical mistake of reasoning referred to as affirming the consequent.

Badiou’s Materiality as Incorporeal Ontology. Note Quote.


Badiou criticises the proper form of intuition associated with multiplicities such as space and time. However, his own ’intuitions’ are constrained by set theory. His intuition is therefore as ‘transitory’ as is the ontology in terms of which it is expressed. Following this constrained line of reasoning, however, let me now discuss how Badiou encounters the question of ‘atoms’ and materiality: in terms of the so called ‘atomic’ T-sets.

If topos theory designates the subobject-classifier Ω relationally, the external, set-theoretic T-form reduces the classificatory question again into the incorporeal framework. There is a set-theoretical, explicit order-structure (T,<) contra the more abstract relation 1 → Ω pertinent to categorical topos theory. Atoms then appear in terms of this operator <: the ‘transcendental grading’ that provides the ‘unity through which all the manifold given in an intuition is united in a concept of the object’.

Formally, in terms of an external Heyting algebra this comes down to an entity (A,Id) where A is a set and Id : A → T is a function satisfying specific conditions.

Equaliser: First, there is an ‘equaliser’ to which Badiou refers as the ‘identity’ Id : A × A → T satisfies two conditions:

1) symmetry: Id(x, y) = Id(y, x) and
2) transitivity: Id(x, y) ∧ Id(y, z) ≤ Id(x, z).

They guarantee that the resulting ‘quasi-object’ is objective in the sense of being distinguished from the gaze of the ‘subject’: ‘the differences in degree of appearance are not prescribed by the exteriority of the gaze’.

This analogous ‘identity’-function actually relates to the structural equalization-procedure as appears in category theory. Identities can be structurally understood as equivalence-relations. Given two arrows X ⇒ Y , an equaliser (which always exists in a topos, given the existence of the subobject classifier Ω) is an object Z → X such that both induced maps Z → Y are the same. Given a topos-theoretic object X and U, pairs of elements of X over U can be compared or ‘equivalized’ by a morphism XU × XUeq ΩU structurally ‘internalising’ the synthetic notion of ‘equality’ between two U-elements. Now it is possible to formulate the cumbersome notion of the ‘atom of appearing’.

An atom is a function a : A → T defined on a T -set (A, Id) so that
(A1) a(x) ∧ Id(x, y) ≤ a(y) and
(A2) a(x) ∧ a(y) ≤ Id(x, y).
As expressed in Badiou’s own vocabulary, an atom can be defined as an ‘object-component which, intuitively, has at most one element in the following sense: if there is an element of A about which it can be said that it belongs absolutely to the component, then there is only one. This means that every other element that belongs to the component absolutely is identical, within appearing, to the first’. These two properties in the definition of an atom is highly motivated by the theory of T-sets (or Ω-sets in the standard terminology of topological logic). A map A → T satisfying the first inequality is usually thought as a ‘subobject’ of A, or formally a T-subset of A. The idea is that, given a T-subset B ⊂ A, we can consider the function
IdB(x) := a(x) = Σ{Id(x,y) | y ∈ B}
and it is easy to verify that the first condition is satisfied. In the opposite direction, for a map a satisfying the first condition, the subset
B = {x | a(x) = Ex := Id(x, x)}
is clearly a T-subset of A.
The second condition states that the subobject a : A → T is a singleton. This concept stems from the topos-theoretic internalization of the singleton-function {·} : a → {a} which determines a particular class of T-subsets of A that correspond to the atomic T-subsets. For example, in the case of an ordinary set S and an element s ∈ S the singleton {s} ⊂ S is a particular, atomic type of subset of S.
The question of ‘elements’ incorporated by an object can thus be expressed externally in Badiou’s local theory but ‘internally’ in any elementary topos. For the same reason, there are two ways for an element to be ‘atomic’: in the first sense an ‘element depends solely on the pure (mathematical) thinking of the multiple’, whereas the second sense relates it ‘to its transcendental indexing’. In topos theory, the distinction is slightly more cumbersome. Badiou still requires a further definition in order to state the ‘postulate of materialism’.
An atom a : A → T is real if if there exists an element x ∈ T so that a(y) = Id(x,y) ∀ y ∈ A.
This definition gives rise to the postulate inherent to Badiou’s understanding of ‘democratic materialism’.
Postulate of Materialism: In a T-set (A,Id), every atom of appearance is real.
What the postulate designates is that there really needs to exist s ∈ A for every suitable subset that structurally (read categorically) appears to serve same relations as the singleton {s}. In other words, what ‘appears’ materially, according to the postulate, has to ‘be’ in the set-theoretic, incorporeal sense of ‘ontology’. Topos theoretically this formulation relates to the so called axiom of support generators (SG), which states that the terminal object 1 of the underlying topos is a generator. This means that the so called global elements, elements of the form 1 → X, are enough to determine any particular object X.
Thus, it is this specific condition (support generators) that is assumed by Badiou’s notion of the ‘unity’ or ‘constitution’ of ‘objects’. In particular this makes him cross the line – the one that Kant drew when he asked Quid juris? or ’Haven’t you crossed the limit?’ as Badiou translates.
But even without assuming the postulate itself, that is, when considering a weaker category of T-sets not required to fulfill the postulate of atomism, the category of quasi-T -sets has a functor taking any quasi-T-set A into the corresponding quasi-T-set of singletons SA by x → {x}, where SA ⊂ PA and PA is the quasi-T-set of all quasi-T-subsets, that is, all maps T → A satisfying the first one of the two conditions of an atom designated by Badiou. It can then be shown that, in fact, SA itself is a sheaf whose all atoms are ‘real’ and which then is a proper T-set satisfying the ‘postulate of materialism’. In fact, the category of T-Sets is equivalent to the category of T-sheaves Shvs(T, J). In the language of T-sets, the ‘postulate of materialism’ thus comes down to designating an equality between A and its completed set of singletons SA.

Some content on this page was disabled on February 25, 2022 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Peggy Reynolds. You can learn more about the DMCA here: