Physics and category theory?


This caught my eye on the arXiv blog: the prospect of finding a (physics) theory of everything using category theory. I haven’t followed up on the claims any more than that, but I’d like to point readers (and some authors) of this blog to it:

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20 Responses to “Physics and category theory?”

  1. Kea Says:

    The poster can’t even spell Bob Coecke’s name. And Category Theory as souped up group theory? Purleeeassse.

  2. toomuchcoffeeman Says:

    Kea: The poster can’t even spell Bob Coecke’s name

    Indeed. I don’t claim this is a guarantee that the blog post you link to is a bit dumb, but it certainly ain’t a good omen. Also, stuff like

    It’s [sic] chief claim is that it has become a hugely powerful tool for unifying concepts in mathematics and so is obviously going to do the same for physics….

    is in my view poor reporting — most category theorists would, to the best of my guessing, replace “is obviously going to” with a more circumspect “should be able to”. (Don’t know if Kea agrees with that though!)

    Chief among the category theory evangelists is Bob Croeke at the University of Oxford…

    Oh FFS. Lawvere, anyone? (Different kind of physics, I know, but still…)

    The irritating thing is that while I don’t have time to look at Bob’s article on the arXiv, I’d expect it to be much more reasonable than the blog post makes it sound. Frankly, we’d be better served with a direct link to the arXiv <grumbles> You might also wish to amend the original post, Jim, so it doesn’t give the implication that Coecke is claiming some Theory of Everything, unless he uses those words himself.

  3. Blake Stacey Says:

    Coecke’s article is, I’d say, quite a bit more reasonable than advertised.

  4. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    I’m agreeing with Blake Stacey here.

    The arXiv paper had me hooked at:

    “you might find John Baez’s webside [JVP: typo for website] one of the coolest in the world. Or you might be fascinated by Chris Isham’s and Lee Smolin’s ideas on the use of topos theory in Quantum Gravity. Also the connections between knot theory, braided categories, and sophisticated mathematical physics such as quantum groups and topological quantum field theory might lure you….”

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