We are going to start considering a hierarchy of "sameness". This is the strength of category theory really. At the top, the strongest notion of being the same is, I guess, the identity morphism. It says two things are *identical*. Next comes isomorphism. Then...what? First recommended reading:

- Jiri Adámek, Horst Herrlich, George E. Strecker Abstract and Concrete Categories: The Joy of Cats freely available online (2004)
- Saunders Mac Lane, Categories for the Working Mathematician Graduate Texts in Mathematics (vol 5) Springer-Verlag, Second Edition (1998);
- John Baez, Some Definitions Everyone Should Know from Fall 2004 seminar.

And now down to business...

### A Weaker Form of "Sameness"

We have that two categories $C,D$ are "isomorphic" if and only if there exists a functor $F:C\to{D}$ which is an isomorphism. We have the intuition that the categories are not identical but they are still "the same" in a sense.

Recall that our functor $F:C\to{D}$ is an isomorphism if and only if there exists a two-sided inverse functor $F^{-1}$. That is to say, $F^{-1}\circ{F}=1_{C}$ and $F\circ{F^{-1}}=1_{D}$. Note that these equations are "properties", so they're either true or false.

We want to "take it up a notch" and make them *natural isomorphisms* since $F^{-1}\circ{F}$, $F\circ{F^{-1}}$, $1_{C}$, and $1_{D}$ here are all functors. The only way to relate them all together is to use natural transformations, i.e. morphisms of functors!

Why is this "better"? (Well to interject, it's neither better nor worse...it's just different; kind of like apples and oranges, which is better? Well, they're different, we can't really compare them...) It's more appealing since we have more freedom with natural isomorphisms than strict equalities.

This programme of replacing boring equations with exciting isomorphisms is precisely the notion of "categorification". For a good introduction, see:

- John Baez and James Dolan
*From Finite Sets to Feynman Diagrams*arXiv:math/0004133 (2000)

Now, to reiterate the little explanation that was given, we will summarize it in our definition:

Definition 1.An"equivalence of categories"$C$ and $D$ consists ofsuch that

- a functor $F:C\to{D}$

- it has a
"weak inverse", i.e. a functor $G:D\to{C}$ such that there exists some natural isomorphisms $\alpha:G\circ{F}\cong1_{C}$ and $\beta:1_{D}\cong F\circ{G}$.

The "orientation" of the natural isomorphisms may look odd at first, but when we get to adjoint functors it will become much clearer why this orientation is chosen.

The notion of equivalence is (hopefully) seen now as a "clearly" weaker form of "sameness". All it really says is that the composition of the functors $F\circ{G}$ is "the same as" (isomorphic to) the identity functor $1_{D}$, but *how* it is the same is given some freedom. We can specify some whacky relation $\beta_{d}$ for each $d\in{D}$ relating $(F\circ{G})(d)$ to $d$. It can be anything we want, even beyond our wildest dreams -- provided that $\beta_{d}$ is an isomorphism.

Similarly $G\circ{F}$ is isomorphic to $1_{C}$. It's *the same* as the identity, but this "sameness" is given some freedom in the sense that it "merely" has to be invertible. Of course the demand $G\circ{F}=1_{c}$ is an acceptable one, it's trivially isomorphic. But trivialities are boring.

That's precisely why we have equivalences, to avoid boredom ;)

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