Starting from a generalization of the standard axioms for a monoid we present a stepwise development of various, mutually equivalent foundational axiom systems for category theory. Our axiom sets have been formalized in the Isabelle/HOL interactive proof assistant, and this formalization utilizes a semantically correct embedding of free logic in classical higher-order logic. The modeling and formal analysis of our axiom sets has been significantly supported by series of experiments with automated reasoning tools integrated with Isabelle/HOL. We also address the relation of our axiom systems to alternative proposals from the literature, including an axiom set proposed by Freyd and Scedrov for which we reveal a technical issue (when encoded in free logic where free variables range over defined and undefined objects): either all operations, e.g. morphism composition, are total or their axiom system is inconsistent. The repair for this problem is quite straightforward, however.
Axiomatizing Category Theory in Free Logic
Christoph Benzmüller, Dana Scott
Logic in Computer Science; Artificial Intelligence; Category Theory; Logic