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Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists (Foundations of Computing) Paperback – August 7, 1991


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Benjamin C. Pierce is Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Product Details

  • Series: Foundations of Computing
  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (August 7, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262660717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262660716
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Foo Bar on December 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Now that Barr and Wells have made Category Theory for Computing Science available for free, there's no reason to read anything else. CTCS is an *excellent* intro to category theory, written by actual category theorists.

For more applications to functional programming, try Lambert Meertens, Richard Bird, Oege de Moor, Marten Fokkinga, Jaap Van Oosten, and Roland Backhouse.

For a more mathematical approach, try Eugenia Cheng's excellent videos on YouTube. Or just read MacLane...
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a very short book: 70 pages of text + a bibliography. The first 50 pages are about general category theory, and the last 20 pages are specifically for computer scientists. My interest is in general category theory, and I bought this because I have a BS in CS and thought I'd find plenty of familiar examples. Unfortunately this book doesn't have nearly enough examples. I found it easier to skim some undergrad abstract algebra books in the library (groups, rings, vector spaces) and then continuing with category theory intros written for math students.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Elliott on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Anyone coming to this book from Pierce's "Types and Programming Languages" will be disappointed. While his "Types ..." book is a model of clear exposition, this book reads like a set of notes jotted down on the back on an envelope. The extensive bibliographic sections are more than fifteen years out of date. Much of the material referenced is no longer in print, and recent developments are, of course, not mentioned. Those seeking a very gentle introduction to category theory would do better with the book by Lawvere and Schanuel, who cover more of category theory than Pierce. Mathematically mature computer science readers will find everything they need to know about the subject in Mac Lane's book.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael Rosenborg on December 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent introduction to category theory, not just for computer scientists, but for mathematicians as well. The author has a very clear writing style--it's evident that he writes to help people to understand the subject, and not to show off his knowledge. The examples illustrating various principles are easy to understand, especially the ones used to illustrate adjoints, arguably one of the more difficult concepts in category theory. This book also comes with a very valuable annotated bibliography, enabling one to intelligently choose from the many books and articles in this burgeoning field.
Read this book before you tackle Mac Lane.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By King Yin Yan on October 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm still a beginner at category theory, but I'd like to say this is a nice textbook. The examples are easy to follow (mainly basic set theory), for people with a com sci background.

A later section explains CCCs (Cartesian closed categories) and its isomorphism to typed lambda calculus. I don't fully grasp the details but this is a very important result in higher-order logic, particularly because the substitution mechanism of lambda calculus can be modeled by category theory.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason Dusek on August 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is not exactly what I would call easy going. I've managed to get through half of it in 7 months. However, I can say, with absolute confidence, that if you do the problems you will learn.

Most everything I've seen on category theory is a confusing mixture of different notations with seemingly identical meanings (but in fact the meanings are totally different). This book is no exception. Often, I have resorted to IRC to sort things out when some notation is simply impenetrable to me. My mathematical training stopped at complex calculus, so this may not apply to you if you've had abstract algebra or something a little more 'meta'.

There seems to be one typographical error, but I am not sure. In the example on the adjunction between products and exponentiation, the right adjoint is listed as "(_)^A x A" but in the diagrams it ends up as "(_)^A". This may be a sensible ellision, but it is not explained anywhere in the text and of it's not easy to find these things on the internet.
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