Section (category theory)
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In category theory, a branch of mathematics, a section is a right inverse of a morphism. Dually, a retraction is a left inverse. In other words, if and are morphisms whose composition is the identity morphism on , then is a section of , and is a retraction of .
In the category of sets, every monomorphism (injective function) with a non-empty domain is a section and every epimorphism (surjective function) is a retraction; the latter statement is equivalent to the axiom of choice.
In the category of vector spaces over a field K, it is also true that every monomorphism and every epimorphism splits; this follows from the fact that linear maps can be uniquely defined by specifying their values on a basis.
In the category of abelian groups, the epimorphism Z→Z/2Z which sends every integer to its image modulo 2 does not split; in fact the only morphism Z/2Z→Z is the 0 map. Similarly, the natural monomorphism Z/2Z→Z/4Z doesn't split because there is no non-trivial homomorphism Z/4Z→Z/2Z.
The categorical concept of a section is important in homological algebra, and is also closely related to the notion of a section of a fiber bundle in topology: in the latter case, a section of a fiber bundle is a section of the bundle projection map of the fiber bundle.
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