# Isomorphism

A pair of mathematical structures are **isomorphic** to each other if they are “essentially the same”, even if they aren’t necessarily equal.

An **isomorphism** is a morphism between isomorphic structures which translates one to the other in a way that preserves all the relevant structure. An important property of an isomorphism is that it can be ‘undone’ by its inverse isomorphism.

An isomorphism from an object to itself is called an **automorphism**. They can be thought of as symmetries: different ways in which an object can be mapped onto itself without changing it.

## Equality and Identity

The simplest isomorphism is equality: if two things are equal then they are actually the same thing (and so not actually *two* things at all). Anything is obviously indistinguishable from itself under whatever measure you might use (it has any property in common with itself) and so regardless of the theory or language, anything is isomorphic to itself. This is represented by the identity (iso)morphism.

## Group Isomorphisms

For a more technical example, the theory of groups only talks about the way that elements are combined via group operation. The theory does not care in what order elements are put, or what they are labelled or even what they are. Hence, if you are using the language and theory of groups, you want to say two groups are essentially indistinguishable if you can pair up the elements such that their group operations act the same way. <div>

## Isomorphisms in Category Theory

In category theory, an isomorphism is a morphism which has a two-sided inverse function. That is to say, \(f:A \to B\) is an isomorphism if there is a morphism \(g: B \to A\) where \(f\) and \(g\) cancel each other out.

Formally, this means that both composites \(fg\) and \(gf\) are equal to identity morphisms (morphisms which ‘do nothing’ or declare an object equal to itself). That is, \(gf = \mathrm {id}_A\) and \(fg = \mathrm {id}_B\).

Children:

- Group isomorphism
“Isomorphism” is the proper notion of “sameness” or “equality” among groups.

- Isomorphism: Intro (Math 0)
Things which are basically the same, except for some stuff you don’t care about.

- Up to isomorphism
A phrase mathematicians use when saying “we only care about the structure of an object, not about specific implementation details of the object”.

Parents:

- Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of numbers and other ideal objects that can be described by axioms.

“identity” is probably not a sufficiently specific link; I’d go for math_identity, probably.

@267 Yeah I’ve been wondering about the convention of things like this. I’ve been calling my pages things like category_mathematics.

This is a great page! I think the intro/summary could be made a little more accessible though? The use case I’m thinking of is a person who wants a brief overview in relatively non-technical language, which is valuable for the popups from links to here.

@1yq Thank you very much! just to be clear, are you talking about the ‘clickbait’, the intro paragraph in the text itself, or both?

Feel free to suggest / make your own changes if you have anything specific in mind by the way.

The intro paragraph, the clickbait seems fine.

I’d like to add some pictures to this page at some point, but due to current circumstances I can’t for now. If anyone wants to add pics (say different station maps with the same connections, two ‘boxes’ with random items) please feel welcome.

I also think I’ll change the names of the stations from a, b etc. to funny made up station names.

The majority of this page will probably end up in the least technical lens.