Product (category theory)
In category theory, the product of two (or more) objects in a category is a notion designed to capture the essence behind constructions in other areas of mathematics such as the cartesian product of sets, the direct product of groups, the direct product of rings and the product of topological spaces. Essentially, the product of a family of objects is the "most general" object which admits a morphism to each of the given objects.
Let C be a category with some objects X1 and X2. An object X is a product of X1 and X2, denoted X1 × X2, if it satisfies this universal property:
The unique morphism f is called the product of morphisms f1 and f2 and is denoted < f1, f2 >. The morphisms π1 and π2 are called the canonical projections or projection morphisms.
Above we defined the binary product. Instead of two objects we can take an arbitrary family of objects indexed by some set I. Then we obtain the definition of a product.
An object X is the product of a family (Xi)i∈I of objects iff there exist morphisms πi : X → Xi, such that for every object Y and a I-indexed family of morphisms fi : Y → Xi there exists a unique morphism f : Y → X such that the following diagrams commute for all i∈I: