Convenient Categories of Smooth Spaces

Baez, John C.
Hoffnung, Alexander E.
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A "Chen space" is a set X equipped with a collection of "plots" - maps from convex sets to X - satisfying three simple axioms. While an individual Chen space can be much worse than a smooth manifold, the category of all Chen spaces is much better behaved than the category of smooth manifolds. For example, any subspace or quotient space of a Chen space is a Chen space, and the space of smooth maps between Chen spaces is again a Chen space. Souriau's "diffeological spaces" share these convenient properties. Here we give a unified treatment of both formalisms. Following ideas of Dubuc, we show that Chen spaces, diffeological spaces, and even simplicial complexes are examples of "concrete sheaves on a concrete site". As a result, the categories of such spaces are locally cartesian closed, with all limits, all colimits, and a weak subobject classifier. For the benefit of differential geometers, our treatment explains most of the category theory we use.
Comment: 43 pages, version to be published; includes corrected definition of "concrete site"
Mathematics - Differential Geometry, Mathematics - Category Theory, 58A40 (Primary), 18F10, 18F20 (Secondary)