John Baez

Finding the Right Abstractions Summit 2021

May 19, 2021

Symmetric Monoidal Categories: a Rosetta Stone

To describe systems composed of interacting parts, scientists and engineers draw diagrams of networks: flow charts, Petri nets, electrical circuit diagrams, signal-flow graphs, chemical reaction networks, Feynman diagrams and the like. All these different diagrams fit into a common framework: the mathematics of symmetric monoidal categories. While originally the morphisms in such categories were mainly used to describe processes, we can also use them to describe open systems.

You can see the slides here, and watch a video here:

For another easy talk on the same theme, see:

For much more on symmetric monoidal categories, see:

To read more about my work with networks, go here:

© 2021 John Baez