I seem to have become the Goto-guy in this corner of the blogosphere for homological algebra.

Our beloved Dr. Mathochist just gave me the task of taking care of any readers prematurely interested in it while telling us all just a tad too little for satisfaction about Khovanov homology.

And I received a letter from the Haskellite crowd – more specifically from alpheccar, who keeps on reading me writing about homological algebra, but doesn’t know where to begin with it, or why.

I have already a few times written about homological algebra, algebraic topology and what it is I do, on various levels of difficulty, but I guess – especially with the carnival dry-out I’ve been having – that it never hurts writing more about it, and even trying to get it so that the non-converts understand what’s so great about it.

So here goes.

This post is dedicated to Janine K

## Representations of categories

The basic tenet of representation theory is that we have some entity – the group representation theory takes a group, the algebra representation theory most often a quiver, and we look at ways to view the elements of the structure as endomorphisms of some vectorspace. The attentive reader remembers my last post on the subject, where was given a group action by the rotations and reflections of a polygon surrounding the origin.

There is a way, suggested to me by Miles Gould in my last post, to unify all these various ways of looking at things in one: groups – and quivers – and most other things we care to look at are in fact very small category. For groups, it’s a category with one object, and one morphism/arrow for each group element, and such that the arrow you get by composing two arrows is the one corresponding to a suitable product in the group. A quiver is just a category corresponding to the way the quiver looks – with objects for all vertices, and arrows for all edges.