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Nominal Lawvere Theories: A Category Theoretic
Account of Equational Theories with Names
Ranald Clouston1
Logic and Computation Group, Research School of Computer Science,
The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
Names, or object-level variables, are a ubiquitous feature in programming
languages and other computational applications. Reasoning with names,
and related constructs like binding and freshness, often poses conceptual and
technical challenges. Nominal Equational Logic (NEL) is a logic for reasoning about equations in the presence of freshness side conditions. This
paper gives a category theoretic account of NEL theories, by analogy with
Lawvere’s classic correspondence between equational theories and small categories with finite products. This development reveals the abstract structure
behind reasoning with equations modulo freshness.
Keywords: Lawvere theories, equational logic, nominal sets, fresh names,
permutation actions.
1. Introduction
1.1. Names in Computing
When we reason about programming languages, logics, process calculi
and various other computational applications, we very frequently encounter
names, also known as object-level variables. Names and their associated constructs, such as scope, binding, α-equivalence, and capture-avoiding substitution, are now widely recognised as posing significant conceptual and technical
Email address: (Ranald Clouston)
The author gratefully acknowledges the supervision of Andrew Pitts, and the comments of the anonymous reviewers of this paper and its earlier conference abstract. This
research was supported in part by the Woolf Fisher Trust.
Preprint submitted to Journal of Computer and System Sciences
March 7, 2013
stumbling blocks to fully formal (for example, machine-assisted) metareasoning. For example, the POPLmark challenge [1], a set of concrete benchmarks
for mechanising the metatheory of programming languages, recognises coping
with binding as one of the main technical challenges.
The name-related phenomenon that this paper is concerned with is that
of equations that are modulated by side conditions stating certain names are
‘not in the free names of’ certain metavariables. These are often called freshness conditions. Freshness becomes a non-trivial property in the presence of
metavariables that stand in for terms whose set of free names we may only
have partial information about, and binders which may render names that
appear in a term’s concrete syntax anonymous in its abstract syntax.
The main reason to study this particular phenomenon is that it is ubiquitous. First, α-equivalence, the very property that defines binding, has this
format. Second, many other interesting properties have this format also:
First-order logic: Φ ⊃ (∀a. Ψ) = ∀a. (Φ ⊃ Ψ) if a is fresh for Φ;
λ-calculus: λ a. f a =η f if a is fresh for f ;
π-calculus: (νa x) | y = νa (x | y) if a is fresh for y.
(Note here the distinction between the name a, which is part of the objectlevel syntax of these examples, and the metavariables Φ, Ψ, f, x, y. One way
to understand this distinction is that a metavariable is always understood
to be standing in for some set of possible terms, whereas a name is not replacing the a in the first example above with a first-order logic formula
would not give rise to a well-formed formula. It is in order to avoid confusion
on this point that we call object-level variables ‘names’ and reserve the word
‘variable’ to the meta-level case.)
The second reason to study this phenomena is that it puts us quite close
to the familiar and well studied world of equational logic and universal algebra, so a good theory of equations modulo freshness can conceivably be
extended to give ‘fresh versions’ of the classic concepts and results of this
world. Indeed, this has been done quite successfully over the last few years,
with fresh versions produced of term rewriting [2], Birkhoff-style closure conditions [3], categorial universal algebra [4], and monoid theory [5], to name
a few. This paper represents a contribution to this research effort.
1.2. Nominal Sets
Each of the examples cited at the end of the last section, along with this
paper, have in common that they use the nominal sets model. This model
originated with [6, 7] with the notion of Fraenkel-Mostowski sets, or FM-sets,
and was based on nonstandard set theory. In the later [8] the name ‘nominal
sets’ was coined for the previously unnamed construction of [7, Section 3].
It is this construction, which requires basic group theory and no axiomatic
set theory, which has been most heavily applied, although in Section 4.5 of
this paper we observe that FM-sets are an important (indeed, paradigmatic)
example of our category theoretic constructions.
In the nominal sets model the most elementary notion is that of name
permutation. Such permutations form a group, and the standard notion of
group action allows us to define the action of a (bijective) renaming on a set,
such as a set of terms. From this, with an additional finiteness condition,
we can formalise the set of free names of a term abstractly as the support of
that term, and hence define freshness, α-equivalence, and so forth.
The nominal sets model is only one of a large family of possible approaches to the problems of names; others include combinatory logic [9], de
Bruijn indices [10], higher order abstract syntax [11], and locally nameless
representations (e.g. [12]). It is outside the scope of this paper to adjudicate
the competing merits of these systems (see e.g. the discussion of [13, 14]).
However, we will note that the nominal sets model offers the signal advantage
of pairing its theory of syntax with an appealing semantics. This mathematical model allows us to put syntactic issues to one side where appropriate, and
in this paper to perform category theory internal to the category of nominal
sets with a minimum of difficulty. It is not clear how this work would proceed
under any other model of names.
1.3. Nominal Equational Logic
How, then, do we use the nominal sets model to reason about equations
modulo freshness? This was answered in [15] by Nominal Equational Logic
(NEL), which provided syntax, semantics, and sound and complete proof
rules to do exactly that. Later papers on NEL addressed the problem of
representing binders [16], and of providing proof rules that use only equality,
and not freshness, as a first class logical connective [17]. These results (although not the more recent developments to them) are given in full technical
detail in the author’s thesis [18].
It should be briefly noted at this stage that NEL is not the only answer
to the question of equations modulo freshness on the market, with the independently produced Nominal Algebra (NA) [19, 20] addressing the same
problem. A quick discussion of these logics’ similarities and differences can
be found in [17, Section 6]. Many (perhaps most) results from NEL are
transferable to NA and vice versa. However, it is not clear that this is true
of the results of this paper, as will be discussed in Section 8.
1.4. Lawvere Theories
Lawvere Theories [21] provided the historically first category theoretic
account of equational logic and universal algebra. They have since perhaps
been surpassed in fame by the concept of algebras for a monad (e.g. [22,
Chapter VI]), as monads relate to the fundamental category theoretic notion of adjoint functors, and have found computer science application for
modelling side effects [23]. See [24] for a discussion of this history.
Nonetheless, Lawvere Theories have remained a live research topic, largely
because Lawvere’s view gives a category theoretic account of equational theories, which the monad-based view does not in any obvious sense. Therefore,
from the point of view of the study of equational theories (a common point of
view in the field of universal algebra), Lawvere Theories are highly useful. In
particular, constructions on categories, such as sum, product, and monoidal
tensors, can be applied through Lawvere’s translation to equational theories,
where applying these constructions to the theories directly would often be
obscure and difficult. We are only just beginning to explore the computational applications of such constructions; for example see [25] for a recent
paper in this vein.
Lawvere’s account (in the many-sorted case) identifies equational theories
with small categories with finite products. We call such categories Lawvere
Theories. This correspondence is achieved through the construction of a
classifying category for each equational theory, and internal language for
each Lawvere Theory:
classifying category
theories j
internal language
It is the construction of the classifying category that is key. The objects of
this category are tuples of sorts, which we can consider sorting environments.
The arrows are tuples of correctly sorted terms modulo provable equivalence,
and composition is term substitution. We also have a correspondence between
algebras for a theory T in any Lawvere theory C, and finite product preserving
functors from the classifying category of T into C. We refer to [26, Chapter
3] for details.
This gives a useful and elegant account of equational logic. But what of
the myriad logics out there, many motivated by computational applications,
that extend equational logic in various ways? Can Lawvere-style accounts be
developed for them? This question has yet to be the subject of a concentrated
research program, but we now have such accounts for at least dependently
sorted equational logic [27], partial equational logic [28], inequational logic
[29], and second-order equational logic [30]. The contribution of this paper
is to give such a Lawvere-style account of Nominal Equational Logic.
1.5. Overview of Contributions
Section 2 gives an introduction to the nominal sets model, and Section 3
gives an introduction to the syntax and proof theory of Nominal Equational
Logic. This paper is intended to be self-contained, but proofs and discussions
in these sections have been kept brief and the reader is referred to [8] and
[18] for more leisurely introductions to nominal sets and NEL respectively.
The main question of this paper is what structure we must impose on
a category to produce a correspondence between such categories and NEL
theories. Section 4 defines that structure. As NEL is an extension of standard equational logic, we would expect finite products and smallness to be
required, and indeed they are. What further structure is required? If we
are to even interpret NEL in a category theoretic setting, let alone develop a
correspondence, we must interpret the two constructs that are new to NEL.
The first are the suspended permutations that are key to the nominal sets
model; the second are the freshness side conditions discussed in Section 1.1.
These are handled by two novel category theoretic structures called internal
Perm-actions and fresh subobjects respectively. We further require that the
finite products are well behaved with respect to the internal Perm-action,
and call a category with all this structure a Nominal Lawvere Theory.
Section 5 shows that NEL can be interpreted in any Nominal Lawvere
Theory, and defines the notion of algebra in Nominal Lawvere Theories.
Section 6 constructs the classifying category of a theory, whose objects are
‘freshness environments’ rather than sorting environments. This gives rise
to a completeness proof (Theorem 6.3) that is considerably less syntactic
and difficult than that of [15]. Section 7 contains the proofs of the main
correspondences of the paper, while Section 8 points to some future research
The main results of this paper were first published as an extended abstract
in the proceedings of the conference WoLLIC 2011 [31], for which this is a
special issue. They are also available in the author’s thesis [18, Chapter 7].
We do not claim this paper as a substantial scientific advance on this previous
work, although some aspects of the presentation have been improved; rather
we have used the extra space to provide more discussion, examples and proof
details, to help the reader sort through the technical difficulty of these results.
2. Nominal Sets
This section introduces the basic mathematics of the nominal sets model,
which we will use to define the syntax and proof theory of Nominal Equational
Logic in Section 3, and also refer to as we develop the category theoretic
account of NEL from Section 4 on.
Definition 2.1. Fix a countably infinite set A of atoms, which we will use
as names. The set Perm of (finite) permutations consists of all bijections
π : A → A whose domain
supp(π) , {a | π(a) 6= a}
is finite. Perm is a group whose identity is the permutation ι leaving all atoms
unchanged, and multiplication is permutation composition π 0 π(a) = π 0 (π(a)).
Example 2.2. (i) Perm is generated by transpositions (a b) that map a
to b, b to a and leave all other atoms unchanged.
(ii) Let
A(n) , {(a1 , . . . , an ) ∈ An | ai 6= aj for 1 ≤ i < j ≤ n} .
All the tuples of atoms we use in this paper will be from this set. Take
~a = (a1 , a2 . . . , an ), ~a0 = (a01 , a02 . . . , a0n ) ∈ A(n) with disjoint underlying
sets. Then we define their generalised transposition as
(~a ~a0 ) , (a1 a01 ) (a2 a02 ) · · · (an a0n ) .
Definition 2.3. A Perm-set is a set X equipped with a function, or Permaction, (π, x) 7→ π · x from Perm × X to X such that
(i) ι · x = x;
(ii) π · (π 0 · x) = ππ 0 · x.
This is the standard notion of group action, which will be discussed further
in Section 4.1 from a category theoretic point of view.
Definition 2.4. Given a Perm-set X, we say that a set of atoms a ⊆ A
supports x ∈ X if for all π ∈ Perm, supp(π) ∩ a = ∅ implies that π · x = x.
Definition 2.5. A nominal set is a Perm-set X with the finite support property: for each x ∈ X there exists some finite a ⊆ A supporting x.
If an element x is finitely supported then there is a unique least such
support set [7, Prop. 3.4], which we write supp(x) and call the support of x.
This may be read as the set of free names of a term. If a ∩ supp(x) = ∅ for
some a ⊆ A we say that a is fresh for x and write a # x, capturing the not
free in relation.
Example 2.6. (i) Any set becomes a nominal set under the trivial Permaction π · x = x, with finite support property supp(x) = ∅;
(ii) The set of atoms A is itself a nominal set with Perm-action π · a = π(a)
and supp(a) = {a};
(iii) Perm is a nominal set with Perm-action given by conjugation: π · π 0 =
ππ 0 π −1 , and support as in (1);
(iv) λ-terms with names drawn from A form a nominal set, with Permaction defined by traversing through a term permuting atoms as they
appear in λ-abstractions, or on their own as object-level variables. The
support of each term is simply the set of all atoms it mentions; this is
obviously finite.
More interestingly, the λ-terms modulo α-abstraction also form a nominal set under the same Perm-action; the support of each equivalence
class of terms is now exactly the set of free names of any representative
term of that class.
(v) Finite products of nominal sets are themselves nominal
sets, given
the element-wise Perm-action and supp(x1 , . . . , xn ) = 1≤i≤n supp(xi ).
The same Perm-action and supports apply to the disjoint product A(n)
of Example 2.2(ii).
(vi) Most of the standard set theoretic operations on nominal sets, such as
union and intersection, yield nominal sets. However, given a Perm-set
X, say we defined a Perm-action on the powerset P(X) in the obvious
π · S , {π · x | x ∈ S} .
Even if X is a nominal set, this P(X) need not be. For example, a
subset of A is finitely supported under (2) if and only if it is finite or
cofinite (has finite complement). To stay inside the world of nominal
sets we therefore need to restrict ourselves to the finitely supported
powerset [7, Ex. 3.5]:
Pf s (X) , {S ⊆ X | S is finitely supported in P(X)} .
Lemma 2.7. Given a nominal set X, element x ∈ X, permutations π, π 0 ∈
Perm, and finite set of atoms a ⊆ A,
(i) a # x implies π · a # π · x;
(ii) Order a as ~a ∈ A(n) , and let ~a0 ∈ A(n) be a tuple of the same size that
is chosen fresh, in the sense that supp(~a0 ) # (a, x). Then
a # x ⇐⇒ x = (~a ~a0 ) · x .
(iii) supp(π) # x implies π · x = x.
Proof. Standard results; see e.g. [32] or [15].
Definition 2.8. Given Perm-sets X, Y we can define a Perm-action on functions f : X → Y by
(π · f )(x) , π · (f (π −1 · x)) .
Hence if f maps x 7→ y then π · f maps π · x 7→ π · y.
Even if X, Y are nominal sets it does not follow that all functions between
them are finitely supported; a finitely supported function is simply one that
does have this property under (3).
In the particular case that f has empty support, we call it equivariant.
This is equivalent to the condition that
π · (f (x)) = f (π · x)
for all permutations π.
Definition 2.9. The category Nom has as objects the nominal sets, and as
arrows the equivariant functions between them.
3. Nominal Equational Logic
This section presents Nominal Equational Logic (NEL), a logic for equality in the presence of names, permutations and freshness side conditions.
More strictly speaking, we here see Nominal Equational-only Logic (NEoL),
as we give no first-class logical connective for freshness, unlike the logic originally presented in [15]. Freshness connectives are instead treated as syntactic
sugar (Definition 3.10). The reason for this presentation is that we wish to
give a category theoretic interpretation of NEL, and while equality is a standard categorial concept, freshness is not. Fortunately, in [17] it was shown
that the logic without this first-class freshness connective is precisely as powerful as the logic with it, so both can safely be given the label NEL.
This version of NEL also mildly generalises that of [15] by using a nominal
set, rather than mere set, of sorts, for reasons discussed in Remark 7.5.
We hope that giving these logics the same name is an acceptable abuse of
Note also that the proof rules given in Figure 1 are slightly simpler than
(but logically equivalent to) those presented in the journal version of this
paper [31]. This improvement is discussed in [17].
Definition 3.1. A NEL-signature Σ is specified by
(i) a nominal set SortΣ , whose elements are called the sorts of Σ;
(ii) a nominal set OpΣ , whose elements are called the operation symbols of
(iii) an equivariant typing function mapping each operation symbol op ∈
OpΣ to a type consisting of a finite list ~s = (s1 . . . , sn ) of sorts of Σ and
another s ∈ SortΣ . We write this op : ~s → s. Where n = 0 we write
op : s.
Equivariance of the typing function means that given op : ~s → s, we
have π · op : π ·~s → π · s.
Example 3.2. A NEL-signature for the untyped λ-calculus can be defined
by letting our sorts be the singleton (with trivial Perm-action) {tm} and
operation symbols be
{var a | a ∈ A} ∪ {lam a | a ∈ A} ∪ {app}
representing object-level variables, lambda-abstractions and application respectively. The Perm-action on these operations symbols is
π · var a , var π(a) ,
π · lam a , lam π(a) ,
π · app , app .
The typing function is
var a : tm,
lam a : (tm) → tm,
app : (tm, tm) → tm .
Definition 3.3. Fix a countably infinite set Var of variables. Then the terms
over Σ are
t ::= π x | op t · · · t
for π ∈ Perm, x ∈ Var and op ∈ OpΣ . We call π x a suspension. This is
a standard construct of nominal syntax, indicating that a permutation is
suspended over a (meta)variable, ready to be applied when that variable is
replaced by some term. We will write ι x simply as x. We call op t1 · · · tn a
constructed term.
The sorting environments SEΣ are partial functions Γ : Var * SortΣ with
finite domain. We define the set Σs (Γ) of terms of sort s in Γ by
(i) if π ∈ Perm and x ∈ dom(Γ) then π x ∈ Σπ·Γ(x) (Γ);
(ii) if op : (s1 , . . . , sn ) → s and ti ∈ Σsi (Γ) for 1 ≤ i ≤ n, then op t1 · · · tn ∈
Σs (Γ).
Definition 3.4. Because terms contain operation symbols and permutations
drawn from nominal sets, it is natural to define a Perm-action upon them.
In fact, as observed first in [19] there are two reasonable such notions.
• The meta-level Perm-action, (π, t ∈ Σs (Γ)) 7→ π · t ∈ Σπ·s (π · Γ), is
π · (π 0 x)
π · (op t1 · · · tn )
ππ 0 π −1 x ;
(π · op)(π · t1 ) · · · (π · tn ) .
The set of all terms are finitely supported under this action, which
traverses through the term and permutes all atoms it encounters.
• The object-level Perm-action, (π, t ∈ Σs (Γ)) 7→ π ∗ t ∈ Σπ·s (Γ), is
π ∗ (π 0 x)
π ∗ (op t1 · · · tn )
ππ 0 x ;
(π · op)(π ∗ t1 ) · · · (π ∗ tn ) .
The set of all terms are in general not finitely supported under this
action. For example, the term x is not emptily supported, despite
containing no atoms, because applying any π to it gives the different
term π x each time.
We will make use of both these actions, but it is the object-level action
we turn to first to define substitution:
Definition 3.5. Given Γ, Γ0 ∈ SEΣ , a substitution σ : Γ → Γ0 is a map from
each x ∈ dom(Γ) to σ(x) ∈ ΣΓ(x) (Γ0 ). Given a term t ∈ Σs (Γ), the term
t{σ} ∈ Σs (Γ0 ) is defined by
(π x){σ}
(op t1 · · · tn ){σ}
π ∗ σ(x) ;
op t1 {σ} · · · tn {σ} .
Lemma 3.6. The following properties hold for the definition above:
(i) t{id } = t, where id : Γ → Γ is the identity substitution, x 7→ ι x;
(ii) (t{σ}){σ 0 } = t{σ; σ 0 }, where (σ; σ 0 ) : Γ → Γ00 is the composition of
σ : Γ → Γ0 and σ 0 : Γ0 → Γ00 , given by (σ; σ 0 )(x) , σ(x){σ 0 }.
Proof. (i) is trivial; (ii) follows by induction on the structure of t, with the
suspension case using the lemma (π ∗ t){σ} = π ∗ (t{σ}), which itself follows
by induction on t.
The next lemma uses substitution to relate the two Perm-actions of Definition 3.4:
Lemma 3.7. Given t ∈ Σs (Γ) and π ∈ Perm,
π · t = π ∗ t{π −1 −}
where (π −1 −) : Γ → π · Γ is the substitution mapping each x 7→ π −1 x.
Proof. An easy induction on the structure of t; see [15, Lemma 5.2] or [19,
Lemma 2.3].
Definition 3.8. A freshness environment is a partial function ∇ with finite
domain on Var, mapping each x ∈ dom(∇) to a pair (a, s) where a is a finite
set of atoms, s ∈ SortΣ , and a # s.
The set of freshness environments FEΣSis then a nominal set under the
action (π · ∇)(x) = (π · a, π · s); supp(∇) is x∈dom(∇) supp(∇(x)). If ∇(xi ) =
(ai , si ) for 1 ≤ i ≤ n, we write ∇ as
(a1 ≈
x 1 : s 1 , . . . , an ≈
xn : s n ) .
The intended meaning is that ai is fresh for xi , which has sort si . These
environments will capture the freshness side conditions we discussed in the
introduction. We will abbreviate {a} ≈
x : s as a ≈
x : s and ∅ ≈
x : s as
If ∇ is as above and a is a finite set of atoms fresh for (s1 , . . . , sn ) then
we define a new freshness environment ∇≈
, (a1 ∪ a ≈
x 1 : s 1 , . . . , an ∪ a ≈
xn : s n ) .
Each ∇ ∈ FEΣ gives rise to a sorting environment ∇: ∈ SEΣ by taking
the second projection.
Definition 3.9. A NEL-judgement has the form
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s
where ∇ ∈ FEΣ , s ∈ SortΣ and t, t0 ∈ Σs (∇: ).
A NEL-theory T is a collection of such judgements, which we call its
Definition 3.10. We introduce freshness judgements not as first class members of the logic, as in [15], but as syntactic sugar:
Given t ∈ Σs (∇: ) and finite a ⊆ A such that a # s,
supp(~a )
∇ `T a ≈
t : s , ∇≈
`T t ≈ (~a ~a0 ) ∗ t : s
where ~a ∈ A(n) is an ordering of a and ~a0 ∈ A(n) is a tuple of the same size
such that supp(~a0 ) # (∇, a, t).
Demonstrating that this definition really does capture the correct notion
of freshness was the subject of the paper [17].
Example 3.11. Equations with freshness side conditions can now be written
as NEL judgements with minimal effort. For example, η-equivalence for the
untyped λ-calculus (Example 3.2) is simply
(η) (a ≈
x : tm) ` lam a (app x var a ) ≈ x : tm .
β-equivalence is slightly more involved, as it is defined in terms of captureavoiding substitution. We could follow [20, Ex. 2.15], which uses the related
system of Nominal Algebra to define explicit operation symbols and axioms
for capture-avoiding substitution, technically giving us the λσ-calculus. Alternatively, we can fold the definitions of that paper into a more involved
definition of β-equivalence:
(β1 ) (a ≈
x : tm, y : tm) ` app (lam a x) y ≈ x : tm
(β2 ) (y : tm) ` app (lam a var a ) y ≈ y : tm
(β3 ) (x : tm, b ≈
y : tm) ` app (lam a (lam b x)) y ≈ lam b (app (lam a x) y) : tm
(β4 ) (x1 : tm, x2 : tm, y : tm) ` app (lam a (app x1 x2 )) y ≈
app (app (lam a x1 ) y) (app (lam a x2 ) y) : tm
(β5 ) (b ≈
x : tm) ` app (lam a x) var b ≈ (a b) x : tm
Our final issue is how to define α-equivalence; that is, how do we say that
lam a binds the atom a in its argument? Dealing with binding in general is
the subject of [16], but in this case it is simply done by asserting that a is
not a free name of lam a t for any term t:
(α0 ) (x : tm) ` a ≈
lam a x : tm
recalling this is syntactic sugar for the equational judgement
(α) (b ≈
x : tm) ` lam a x ≈ lam b (a b) x : tm
Example 3.12. For the π-calculus [33], let our sorts be {tm} and our operation symbols include
{res a | a ∈ A} ∪ {in a,b | (a, b) ∈ A × A} ∪ {par }
representing restriction, input and parallel composition (and in addition to
symbols for output and so forth). The Perm-actions on these operation symbols are
π · res a , res π(a) ,
π · in a,b , in π(a),π(b) ,
π · par , par
while the typing function is
res a : (tm) → tm,
in a,b : (tm) → tm,
The axioms for binding are then
(α1 ) (x : tm) ` a ≈
res a : tm
(α2 ) (x : tm) ` b ≈
in a,b x : tm
par : (tm, tm) → tm .
∇ ∈ FEΣ , t ∈ Σs (∇: )
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s
∇ ` t0 ≈ t00 : s
∇ ` t ≈ t00 : s
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s
∇ ` t0 ≈ t : s
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s
∇ ≤ ∇0 ∈ FEΣ
∇0 ` t ≈ t0 : s
∇0 ` σ ≈ σ 0
∇0 ` σ : ∇
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s
σ, σ 0 : ∇: → (∇0 ):
∇0 ` t{σ} ≈ t0 {σ 0 } : s
` t ≈ t0 : s
a # (∇, t, t0 )
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s
(ds(π, π 0 ) ≈
x : s) ` π x ≈ π 0 x : π · s
ds(π, π 0 ) # s
Figure 1: Proof rules for NEL
(α3 ) (b ≈
x : tm) ` in a,a x ≈ in a,b (a b) x : tm
The other axioms for structural congruence are simple to write down, e.g.
(−) (x : tm, a ≈
y : tm) ` res a (par x y) ≈ par (res a x) y
Definition 3.13. [Logical Consequence] The set of theorems of a NELtheory T is the least set of judgements containing the axioms of T and closed
under the rules of Fig. 1. We write
∇ `T t ≈ t0 : s
to indicate that the judgement is a theorem of T.
Fig. 1 uses the following new pieces of notation:
• In (weak) the relation ∇ ≤ ∇0 holds if dom(∇) ⊆ dom(∇0 ) and for all
x ∈ dom(∇) we have ∇(x) = (a, s) and ∇0 (x) = (a0 , s) so that a ⊆ a0 .
• Let ∇ be as (4), so for each 1 ≤ i ≤ n we have ai asserted fresh for
xi of sort si . In rule (subst) ∇0 ` σ ≈ σ 0 stands for the hypotheses
∇0 ` σ(xi ) ≈ σ 0 (xi ) : si for 1 ≤ i ≤ n;
• Taking ∇ as above, in rule (subst) ∇0 ` σ : ∇ stands for the hypotheses
∇ 0 ` ai ≈
σ(xi ) : si .
Note that this is sugared according to Definition 3.10. We need this
condition to stop a term with an atom a in its support getting substituted in for a variable x for which we have guaranteed a’s freshness.
• In (susp), The disagreement set of π and π 0 is
ds(π, π 0 ) , {a | π(a) 6= π 0 (a)} .
Note also that (atm-elim) and (susp) carry side conditions relating to freshness. These do not refer to the sugared freshness connective ≈
. Rather,
they refer to the not-in-the-support-of relation # of Definition 2.5 over the
nominal sets FEΣ (Definition 3.8), Pf s (A) (Example 2.6), and Σs (∇: ) (with
respect to the meta-level action of Definition 3.4).
4. Nominal Lawvere Theories
This section will provide the necessary structure that a category must
possess to correspond to a NEL-theory. In particular, we will see the new
categorial constructs of internal Perm-actions and fresh subobjects, which will
allow us to interpret the new NEL constructs of suspensions and freshness
environments respectively.
4.1. Internal G-actions
This section, and the next, are developed in terms of a general group
G, with identity e, multiplication (g 0 , g) 7→ g 0 g and inverses g 7→ g −1 . The
definitions are given in this generality to emphasise that they do not depend
on the specific structure of any particular group, and to support comments
made about generalised nominal sets in Section 8. However from Section 4.3
on we will set G to be Perm, the group of finite atom permutations, and the
reader is encouraged to read these sections in that light.
Let C be any category, with objects ob C and arrows ar C.
Definition 4.1. A category C has an internal G-action if for each g ∈ G
and C ∈ ob C there is a an arrow gC ∈ ar C with domain C such that
(i) eC is the identity arrow idC ;
(ii) (g 0 g)C = gg·C
◦ gC , where g · C is the codomain of gC .
We will sometimes write gC as g where this does not cause confusion.
Remark 4.2. G may be considered as a category with one object •, whose
identity is e and composition is multiplication. Definition 4.1 then asks that
the map ar G × ob C → ar C respects the category structure of G. As natural
as this requirement might seem, the construction does not seem to be an
example of any widely known category theoretic concept. It is, however,
equivalent to a cofunctor G → C, in the sense of [34, Chapter 4]. This is
not shorthand for ‘contravariant functor’, but rather a generalisation of the
comorphisms of [35].
Lemma 4.3. Given a category C with an internal G-action, we can define
a functor from G to the category of categories, mapping • 7→ C, and each g
to an endofunctor on C written g · − : C → C:
• g · C is defined to be the codomain of gC ;
• Given a C-arrow f : C → D, g · f : g · C → g · D is defined to be the
(g −1 )g·C
/g·D .
(Compare this to the definition for functions (3)).
Proof. Functoriality of the functor from G, and the functor g · −, requires
that, for all g, g 0 ∈ G, C ∈ ob C and f, f 0 ∈ ar C, we check
e · f = f (and hence e · C = C);
g 0 · (g · f ) = g 0 g · f (and hence g 0 · (g · C) = g 0 g · C);
g · idC = idg·C ;
g · (f 0 ◦ f ) = (g · f 0 ) ◦ (g · f ).
These properties follow easily from Definition 4.1.
Example 4.4. (i) Any category C has the trivial internal G-action defined
by setting gC = idC for all g ∈ G, C ∈ C. g · − is then the identity
endofunctor idC .
(ii) G itself has an internal G-action, with g• = g. Following (6), g · g•0 is
the conjugation (gg 0 g −1 )• .
(iii) A G-set is a functor from G to the category of sets, or equivalently a
set X equipped with a function (g, x) 7→ g · x : G × X → X, such that
e · x = x and g 0 · (g · x) = g 0 g · x. This function is called a G-action.
Another point of view is to consider the G-set X itself as a category,
whose objects are elements of X, arrows are pairs (g, x) : x → g · x,
identity on x is (e, x), and composition (g 0 , g · x) ◦ (g, x) is (g 0 g, x).
This category is called an action groupoid (e.g. [36]), and is evidently
equipped with an internal G-action.
Definition 4.5. The category GSet of G-sets has as arrows functions f :
X → Y that are equivariant: g · (f (x)) = f (g · x). Following the precedent
that each functor from G to the category of sets defines a G-set, we can say
a functor from G to the category of categories, as with Lemma 4.3, defines a
Remark 4.6. The small G-categories are easily seen to be equivalent to the
categories internal in GSet, in the sense of [37, Chapter B2]. That is, ob C
and ar C are G-sets, and the domain, codomain, identity and composition
maps are equivariant.
Why, then, do we not employ this reasonably familiar setting, rather than
starting with the novel internal G-actions? The next example will show that
the converse of Lemma 4.3 does not hold; not all G-categories are induced by
internal G-actions. Intuitively, internal G-actions are more powerful because
they witness the G-action on the category via arrows of the category.
Example 4.7. Given a G-set X, consider the category whose objects are
elements of X and arrows are identities only. We can define G-actions on the
objects and arrows of this category in the obvious way, mapping x 7→ g · x
and idx 7→ idg·x , but there is evidently no internal G-action using the arrows
of the category that generates these G-actions.
Lemma 4.8. The following results hold for all internal G-actions:
(i) Each gC : C → g · C is iso, with inverse (g −1 )g·C ;
(ii) The arrows gC : C → g · C are the components of a natural transformation g : idC →
˙ (g · −);
Proof. Easy consequences of Definition 4.1 and (6).
Lemma 4.9. Suppose we have small categories C, C 0 equipped with internal
G-actions, and a functor F : C → C 0 that strictly preserves that action, so
F (gC ) = gF C for all C ∈ obC. Then
(i) F is internal to GSet;
(ii) Given two such functors F, F 0 , any natural transformation φ : F →
˙ F0
is internal to GSet.
Proof. F (g·C) is the codomain of F (gC ), and g·F C is the codomain of gF C ,
but these arrows are equal so g·F C = F (g·C). Now (g·F f )◦gF C = gF C 0 ◦F f
by naturality (Lemma 4.8(ii)), which is F (gC 0 ) ◦ F f = F (g · f ) ◦ F (gC ) =
F (g·f )◦gF C . But gF C is iso (Lemma 4.8(i)) and hence epi, so g·F f = F (g·f ).
This proves (i). (ii) is straightforward.
4.2. Equivariant finite products
Following Lawvere’s standard account, we will require that our category
C has finite products. These are given by assigning to each finite collection of
C-objects C1 , . . . , Cn and each 1 ≤ i ≤ n a projection arrow pri (C1 , . . . , Cn ) :
C1 × · · · × Cn → Ci . We will generally write pri (C1 , . . . , Cn ) as pri , and the
nullary product object as 1.
However, we will need to go one step further to ask that these finite
products be equivariant:
Definition 4.10. A G-category C with all finite products is said to have
equivariant finite products if, for all g ∈ G, the endofunctor g · − : C → C
preserves all finite products. We must therefore check:
(i) g · 1 = 1;
(ii) g · (pri (C1 , . . . , Cn )) = pri (g · C1 , . . . , g · Cn ).
Remark 4.11. It is easy to confirm that equipping a small G-category with
equivariant finite products is equivalent to requiring that it has products internal to GSet, in the sense that the maps defining the terminal object, product objects, projection arrows and unique arrows induced are all equivariant
Example 4.12. (i) If a category C with finite products is equipped with
the trivial internal G-action of Example 4.4(i), then those products are
evidently equivariant.
(ii) Given a G-set X, let [X] be the category whose objects are finite
(possibly empty) lists of elements of X, and arrows (x1 , . . . , xm ) →
(y1 , . . . , yn ) are functions {1, . . . , n} → {1, . . . , m} (note the reversed
direction). [X] has as terminal object the empty list ( ), and binary
products defined by concatenation:
(x1 , . . . , xm ) × (y1 , . . . , yn ) , (x1 , . . . , xm , y1 , . . . , yn )
with pr1 (i) = i for 1 ≤ i ≤ m and pr2 (j) = m + j for 1 ≤ j ≤ n.
Now because X is a G-set we can define a G-action on ob [X] elementwise:
g · (x1 , . . . , xm ) , (g · x1 , . . . , g · xm ) .
The internal G-action g(x1 ,...,xm ) is simply the identity on {1, . . . , m};
under these definitions it is routine to check that [X] has equivariant
finite products.
4.3. Finite Support
Definition 4.13. Let C be a category equipped with an internal Permaction. A set of atoms a ⊆ A supports a C-object C if for all π ∈ Perm,
supp(π) ∩ a = ∅ implies that π · C = C. Support for C-arrows is defined
The internal Perm-action is said to be finitely supported if all objects and
arrows of C have finite support. In practice we need only check C-arrows, as
each object C has the same support as its identity idC .
Note that the internal Perm-actions πC themselves have finite support,
contained in supp(π) ∪ supp(C). Note also, building on Remark 4.6, that
such a C is not just internal to GSet, but to Nom (Definition 2.9) also.
Example 4.14. (i) The category C with trivial internal Perm-action has
empty support for all arrows.
(ii) The one-object category Perm has each arrow π supported by supp(π).
(iii) If we consider a nominal set X as an action groupoid, following Example 4.4(iii), then each arrow (π, x) : x → π · x is supported by
supp(π) ∪ supp(x).
(iv) Given a nominal set X, the category [X] of Example 4.12(ii) has arrows
(x1 , . . . , xm ) → (y1 , . . . , yn ) supported by supp(x1 , . . . , xm , y1 , . . . , yn ).
4.4. Fresh Subobjects
The definition below is the most involved of this paper. Intuitively, the
fresh subobject of an object C with respect to a finite set of atoms a is the
subobject formed by removing all ‘elements’ of C whose support intersects
with a.
Formally, the definition is structured as follows. The first four properties
(i)-(iv) can be thought of as requirements that the construction of fresh
subobjects respect or preserve certain structure: empty set, union, Permaction and products. Properties (v)-(vii) should be thought of as the arrow
theoretic analogues of the logical structure of freshness.
Definition 4.15. A category C with internal Perm-action and finite products
has fresh subobjects if for each finite set of atoms a and C-object C such that
a # C, there is a C-arrow iaC with codomain C so that the following conditions
is defined to be its domain):
hold (where C ≈
i∅C is the identity idC ;
iaC∪ a = iaC ◦ iaC ≈
a ;
π · iC = iπ·C ;
iaC1 ×···×Cn = iaC1 × · · · × iaCn :
kk5 C
a ≈
ia ≈
/ C≈
a ∪ a
a ∪ a0
π −1
gggg3 C
· (C ≈
) VV π·iaC
kkk C
ukk π
(π · C)≈
(C1 × · · · × Cn )≈
[[[[i[C1 ×···×Cn
cc cc1 1
cccaccccc a
iC ×···×iCn
C1 × · · · × Cn
× · · · × Cn
(v) (Fresh permutations): Given π ∈ Perm, if supp(π) # C then πC ≈
is the identity idC ≈
supp(π) ;
(vi) (Fresh epis): If we have a finite set of atoms a and parallel C-arrows
f :C→
→ D such that f ◦ iC = g ◦ iC and a # (f, g), then f = g;
(vii) (Fresh arrows): Suppose we have sets of atoms a, a0 which may be
ordered ~a, ~a0 ∈ A(n) , and a C-arrow f : D → C. If a # C, a0 # (a, f )
and (~a ~a0 )C ◦ f ◦ iaD = f ◦ iaD , then we have a unique fˆ : D → C ≈
that iC ◦ f = f :
CC f
(~a ~a0 )C
Where there is no confusion we will abbreviate iaC to ia , or simply i.
Example 4.16. The two examples of Example 4.12 both have the trivial fresh subobjects iaC = idc . Note that with [X], the fresh subobject
(x1 , . . . , xm )≈
need only be defined where a # (x1 , . . . , xm ).
4.5. FM-categories and Nominal Lawvere Theories
Definition 4.17. A category equipped with a finitely supported internal
Perm-action, equivariant finite products and fresh subobjects is an FMcategory. If it is small, it is a Nominal Lawvere Theory.
Remark 4.18. The two categories of Example 4.16 are FM-categories. [X]
is further a Nominal Lawvere Theory, and any small category C with the
trivial definitions is likewise.
However, these examples are not wholly convincing as their fresh subobjects are trivial, and so the complexities of Definition 4.15 are not yet well
motivated. However, we will next give the natural and well-known example
of FM-sets [7], and show that they fulfill every aspect of our definition. This
justifies the ‘FM-category’ terminology used above.
We will see another example of an FM-category, the classifying category
of a NEL-theory, in Section 6.
Definition 4.19. The
defined by
familiar von Neumann hierarchy of sets (e.g. [38]) is
P(Vα )
α<λ Vα (λ a limit ordinal) .
We then define the von Neumann universe as
V ,
as α ranges over the ordinals.
Similarly, we define the Fraenkel-Mostowski hierarchy, or FM-hierarchy,
of nominal sets by
A + Pf s (FMα )
(λ a limit ordinal) .
α<λ FMα
Note the inclusion of atoms and the restriction of powerset to the finitely
supported subsets. Each stage of this hierarchy is a nominal set by Example
The Fraenkel-Mostowski universe, or FM-universe, is defined to be
FM ,
as α ranges over the ordinals.
Definition 4.20. FM is divided at each stage past ∅ by disjoint union, into
atoms and sets. We call these sets the FM-sets.
The permutation action on FM-sets is defined in the evident way:
π · X = {π · x | x ∈ X} .
Definition 4.21. We can formulate most of the usual set theoretic constructions with FM-sets, with the exception of any construct that would require
infinite support (notably, choice). In particular, given FM-sets X, Y , we define FM-functions X → Y in the usual way, noting that as members of the
FM-hierarchy they must have finite support under the action (ref. (3)):
(π · f )(x) = π · f (π −1 · x) .
Definition 4.22. The FM-sets and FM-functions between them form a category FM-Set. Similarly, for any limit ordinal λ, the FM-sets and FMfunctions between them that are contained in FMλ form a small category
FMλ -Set.
Lemma 4.23. FM-Set is an FM-category, given the definitions of internal
Perm-action and fresh subobjects presented below.
Proof. Given any FM-set X define π · X as (8). Then the internal Permaction πX : X → π · X is
πX (x) , π · x .
This clearly obeys Definition 4.1. The Perm-action on FM-functions, following (6), is exactly (9), so we know by construction that this internal
Perm-action is finitely supported.
The terminal object {∅} has empty support as required (terminal objects
such as {a} that have non-empty support are not a problem, so long as there
exists some emptily supported such object). It is easy to confirm that all
other finite products, defined in the usual way, are also equivariant.
Given an FM-set X and finite set of atoms a, the fresh subobject iaX is
the inclusion into X from the FM-set
, {x ∈ X | a # X} .
Conditions (i)-(iv) of Definition 4.15 are easy consequences of these fresh
subobjects being inclusions. (v) follows because for all x ∈ X ≈
, π·x = x
by Lemma 2.7(iii), so πX ≈ supp(π) = idX ≈ supp(π) .
, where a # (f, g). Then let
(vi): Say f (x) = g(x) for all x ∈ X ≈
~a ∈ A be an ordering of a and, given any x ∈ X, let ~a0 ∈ A(n) be a fresh
tuple with supp(~a0 ) # (a, f, g, x). Then a # (~a ~a0 ) · x by Lemma 2.7(i), so
(~a ~a0 ) · f (x) = f ((~a ~a0 ) · x) = g((~a ~a0 ) · x) = (~a ~a0 ) · g(x). Apply (~a ~a0 ) to both
sides to get f (x) = g(x).
(vii): The meaning of the unique arrow fˆ in
CC f
(~a ~a0 )
is that a is fresh for all elements of the image of f .
The top-right direction tells us that a0 # y ∈ Y implies (~a ~a0 )·f (y) = f (y).
This, combined with the fact that a0 # (a, f ), tells us that a # f (y) by
Lemma 2.7(ii).
Now take any y ∈ Y , and introduce another tuple ~a00 of the same size
such that supp(~a00 ) # (a, a0 , f, y). a0 # (~a0 ~a00 ) · y, so by the above paragraph,
a # f ((~a0 ~a00 ) · y). But this equals (~a0 ~a00 ) · f (y). Applying (~a0 ~a00 ) to both
sides finally gives us a # f (y).
Corollary 4.24. The small subcategory FMλ -Set is a Nominal Lawvere
Theory for any limit ordinal λ.
The example of FM-sets above shows that the Fresh Arrows condition
allows us to talk about the freshness of atoms over the image of an arrow,
in an entirely arrow-theoretic way without discussion of elements. The next
definition and lemma show how this condition can be used in practice.
Definition 4.25. Suppose that a # (f : C → D) in C. Let ~a ∈ A(n) be an
ordering of a and ~a0 ∈ A(n) be a fresh tuple of the same size. (~a ~a0 ) defines a
natural transformation idC →
˙ (~a ~a0 ) · − by Lemma 4.8(ii), so
a ∪ supp(~a )
(~a ~a0 )
(~a ~a0 )
a ∪ supp(~a )
commutes. But (~a ~a0 )C ≈
a ∪ supp(~a0 ) is the identity by Definition 4.15(v), so
(~a ~a ) ◦ f ◦ i = f ◦ i. Therefore by Def. 4.15(vii), the Fresh Arrows condition,
we induce a unique arrow which we will call f ≈
a ∪ supp(~a )
/ C≈
(~a ~a0 )
By the uniqueness of this arrow this assignment is functorial, in the sense
that (idC )≈
= idC ≈ a and (g ◦ f )≈
= g≈
◦ f≈
Lemma 4.26. All fresh subobjects iaC : C ≈
→ C are mono.
, and take ~a as an ordering
Proof. Say ia ◦ f = ia ◦ g for f, g : D →
supp(~a0 )
of a and ~a as a fresh tuple of the same size. (~a ~a0 )C ◦ iaC ◦ f ◦ iD
a ∪ supp(~a0 )
supp(~a0 )
by Definition 4.25. By the naturality of (~a ~a ),
(~a ~a )C ◦ iC
supp(~a0 )
Definition 4.15(v) and Definition 4.25 again, this equals iaC ◦ f ◦ iD
Therefore by Def. 4.15(vii) we have a unique arrow:
supp(~a )
/ C≈
(~a ~a0 )
But i ◦ f = i ◦ g, so by uniqueness f = g.
Definition 4.27. Given FM-categories C, C 0 , an FM-functor F : C → C 0 is
a functor that strictly preserves
(i) the internal Perm-action: F πC = πF C ;
(ii) finite products: F 1C = 1F C and F (pri (C1 , C2 )) = pri (F C1 , F C2 );
(iii) fresh subobjects: F iaC = iaF C .
F M (C, C 0 ) is the category of FM-functors C → C 0 and natural transformations
between them.
5. Algebras for NEL in FM-categories
Typically, we would interpret Nominal Equational Logic into the category FM-Set of FM-sets and FM-functions. In this section we will see that
FM-categories have all the structure we need to interpret NEL, with the internal Perm-action giving us suspensions, and fresh subobjects giving us our
freshness environments.
Definition 5.1. Given a NEL-signature Σ and FM-category C, a Σ-structure
M in C is defined by
(i) An equivariant function M J−K : SortΣ → ob C;
(ii) An equivariant function M J−K : OpΣ → ar C where
M JopK : M Js1 K × · · · × M Jsn K → M JsK
if op has type (s1 , . . . , sn ) → s.
Where the structure in question is clear we will write M JsK as JsK and so
Definition 5.2. Given a freshness environment ∇ as (4) and a Σ-structure
in an FM-category C we define the C-object
× · · · × Jsn K≈
J∇K , Js1 K≈
Given a term t ∈ Σs (∇: ) the value arrow J∇ ` t : sK is a C-arrow J∇K → JsK:
J∇ ` π xi : si K
J∇ ` op t1 · · · tn : sK
πJsi K ◦ iaJsii K ◦ pri ;
JopK ◦ hJ∇ ` t1 : s1 K, . . . , J∇ ` tn : sn Ki .
Lemma 5.3. (i) J∇ ` π ∗ t : π · sK = πJsK ◦ J∇ ` t : sK;
(ii) Given ∇ ≤ ∇0 there exists an arrow weak : J∇0 K → J∇K such that for
any t ∈ Σs (∇: ), J∇0 ` t : sK = J∇ ` t : sK ◦ weak;
(iii) J∇≈
` t : sK = J∇ ` t : sK ◦ iaJ∇K , where ∇≈
is as (5);
(iv) If ∇ is as (4) then
J∇ ` t : sK = J(x1 : s1 , . . . , xn : sn ) ` t : sK ◦ (iaJs11 K × · · · × iaJsnn K ) .
(v) Given Γ ∈ SEΣ with domain {x1 , . . . , xn }, a substitution σ : Γ → ∇: ,
and a term t ∈ Σs (Γ),
J∇ ` t{σ} : sK = JΓ0 ` t : sK ◦ h. . . , J∇ ` σ(xi ) : Γ0 (xi )K, . . .i
where Γ0 is the freshness environment defined by Γ0 (x) , (∅, Γ(x)).
Proof. (i) follows by induction on the structure of t, using the naturality
of the internal Perm-action π in the constructed term case.
(ii): take ∇ as (4) and say ∇0 (xi ) = (ai ∪ a0i , si ) for 1 ≤ i ≤ n. Then set
weak , hia1 ◦ pr1 , . . . , ian ◦ prn i .
The result follows by another induction on t, and (iii) is an immediate corollary.
(iv) is another induction on t and (v) likewise, using (i) in the suspension
Definition 5.4. A structure M in an FM-category C satisfies the judgement
∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s if
M J∇ ` t : sK = M J∇ ` t0 : sK
If M satisfies all axioms of a theory T then it is a T-algebra in C.
Definition 5.5. Suppose ∇ ` a ≈
t : s is satisfied, so by Definitions 3.10 and
supp(~a0 )
supp(~a0 )
5.4, J∇≈
` t : sK = J∇≈
` (~a ~a0 ) ∗ t : sK. Then by Lemma 5.3(i)
and (iii), J∇ ` t : sK ◦ isupp(~a ) = (~a ~a0 ) ◦ J∇ ` t : sK ◦ isupp(~a ) . By Definition
4.15(vii) a unique arrow is induced which we will call J∇ ` a ≈
t : sK:
supp(~a )
/ J∇K
J∇`a ≈
/ JsK
(~a ~a0 )
Lemma 5.6. Take ∇ as (4).
(i) Given a term t ∈ Σs (∇: ) and substitution σ : ∇: → (∇0 ): , if the arrows
J∇0 ` ai ≈
σ(xi ) : si K are defined for 1 ≤ i ≤ n then J∇0 ` t{σ} : sK
σ(x1 ) : s1 K, . . . , J∇0 ` an ≈
σ(xn ) : sn Ki ;
J∇ ` t : sK ◦ hJ∇0 ` a1 ≈
idJ∇K = hJ∇ ` a1 ≈
x1 : s1 K, . . . , J∇ ` an ≈
xn : sn Ki;
iaJ∇K = hJ∇≈
x1 : s1 K, . . . , J∇≈
xn : sn Ki;
` a1 ≈
` an ≈
πJ∇K = hJ∇ ` π · a1 ≈
π x1 : π · s1 K, . . . , J∇ ` π · an ≈
π xn : π · sn Ki;
Take ∇1 , ∇2 with disjoint domain. Then prj (J∇1 K, J∇2 K) is
hJ∇1 ∪ ∇2 ` a1 ≈
x1 : s1 K, . . . , J∇1 ∪ ∇2 ` an ≈
xn : sn Ki
if ∇j is (4) for j = 1, 2.
Proof. (i) follows by Lemma 5.3(iv) and (v). For (ii)-(v) we first need
to confirm that the arrows in question exist, following Definition 5.5. For
example, for (ii), we need that
iai ◦ pri ◦ isupp(~ai ) = (~ai ~a0i ) ◦ iai ◦ pri ◦ isupp(~ai )
where ~ai orders ai and ~a0i is a fresh tuple of the same size. We’ll explicitly
prove a slightly simpler version of this, where ∇ = (a ≈
x : s), so we do not
have to worry about the projection arrows. Then by the naturality of (~a ~a0 )
we have
/ JsK≈ a
/ JsK
JsK≈ a ∪ supp(~a )
(~a ~a0 )
(~a ~a0 )
JsK≈ a ∪ supp(~a )
/ JsK≈ supp(~a0 )
/ JsK
But the left-most arrow (~a ~a0 )JsK≈ a ∪ supp(~a0 ) is the identity by Definition 4.15(v).
Adding our projections back in causes no problem by Definition 4.15(iv). The
cases for (iii)-(v) follow similarly.
The equalities (ii), (iii) and (v) then follow by applying iai ◦ pri to each
side, as iai is mono (Lemma 4.26) and projections jointly mono. (iv) follows
by applying iπ·ai ◦ pri to each side.
Theorem 5.7 (Soundness). If M is a T-algebra in C and ∇ `T t ≈ t0 : s
then M satisfies that judgement.
Proof. We need to show closure under the proof rules of Fig. 1. Closure
under (refl), (symm) and (trans) is trivial, and (weak) follows immediately
from Lemma 5.3(ii).
(subst): Given ∇ as (4) the arrows J∇0 ` a1 ≈
σ(x1 ) : s1 K (Definition
5.5) are defined for 1 ≤ i ≤ n, so by Lemma 5.6(i)
σ(x1 ) : s1 K, . . .i
J∇0 ` t{σ} : sK = J∇ ` t : sK ◦ hJ∇0 ` a1 ≈
and similarly for t0 {σ 0 }. We have J∇ ` t : sK = J∇ ` t0 : sK, while iai ◦ J∇0 `
ai ≈
σ(xi ) : si K = J∇0 ` σ(xi ) : si K = J∇0 ` σ 0 (xi ) : si K = iai ◦ J∇0 ` ai ≈
σ (xi ) : si K. But i is mono by Lemma 4.26, so we are done.
(atm-elim): J∇ ` t : sK ◦ ia = J∇ ` t0 : sK ◦ ia by Lemma 5.3(iii), so
J∇ ` t : sK = J∇ ` t0 : sK by Definition 4.15(vi).
(susp:) we need to prove that π ◦ ids(π,π ) = π 0 ◦ ids(π,π ) . Now π −1 ◦ π 0 ◦
−1 0
ids(π,π ) = ids(π,π ) ◦ π −1 πJsK
π ),
ds(π,π 0 ) by naturality, but ds(π, π ) = supp(π
so we can apply Definition 4.15(v) to make this equal ids(π,π ) . Applying the
identity π −1 ◦ π to the front gives us π −1 ◦ π ◦ ids(π,π ) . But π −1 is iso, and
therefore mono, so we are done.
Definition 5.8. A Σ-homomorphism M → M 0 in C is an equivariant function h− from SortΣ to C-arrows, with hs : M JsK → M 0 JsK, such that
hs ◦ M JopK = M 0 JopK ◦ (hs1 × · · · × hsn )
for all op : (s1 , . . . , sn ) → s. The T-algebras in C and Σ-homomorphisms
between them form the category C T .
6. The Classifying Category
Given a NEL-theory T, this section defines a nominal Lawvere theory
called the classifying category, Cl(T). This construction gives rise to a simple
completeness proof, and will be used for the key correspondences of this paper
in the next section.
Lemma 6.1. Fix an ordering v1 , v2 , . . . on the set of variables Var and let
T be a theory over a signature Σ. Then the following constructions define a
nominal Lawvere theory, which we will call the classifying category and write
Objects: ob Cl(T) is the set of freshness environments whose domain is an
initial sublist of Var, {v1 , . . . , vn }, so the typical object is
v1 : s1 , . . . , an ≈
vn : sn ) .
∇ = (a1 ≈
Arrows: Taking ∇ as (11), Cl(T)-arrows f : ∇0 → ∇ are defined by
∇0 ` (a1 ≈
[t1 ] : s1 , . . . , an ≈
[tn ] : sn )
where, for 1 ≤ i ≤ n,
(i) ti ∈ Σsi ((∇0 ): );
(ii) ∇0 `T ai ≈
ti : si (recall Definition 3.10);
(iii) [ti ] is the equivalence class of terms u such that ∇0 `T ti ≈ u : si .
Identity: The identity on ∇ (11) is
[v1 ] : s1 , . . . , an ≈
[vn ] : sn ) .
id∇ , ∇ ` (a1 ≈
Composition: Given f (12), g = ∇ ` (a01 ≈
[t01 ] : s01 , . . . , a0m ≈
[t0m ] : s0m ),
g ◦ f , ∇0 ` (a01 ≈
[t01 {σ}] : s01 , . . . , a0m ≈
[t0m {σ}] : s0m )
where σ is the substitution (Definition 3.5) σ(vi ) = ti for 1 ≤ i ≤ n.
Finitely supported internal Perm-action: Given ∇ (11),
π∇ , ∇ ` (π · a1 ≈
[π v1 ] : π · s1 , . . . , π · an ≈
[π vn ] : π · sn ) .
Equivariant finite products: The terminal object of Cl(T) is the empty
freshness environment. Given ∇ (11) and ∇0 = (a01 ≈
v1 : s01 , . . . , a0m ≈
vm : sm ), their binary product ∇ × ∇ is
(a1 ≈
v 1 : s 1 , . . . , an ≈
vn : sn , a01 ≈
vn+1 : s01 , . . . , a0m ≈
vn+m : s0m )
with projections
[v1 ] : s1 , . . . , an ≈
[vn ] : sn ) ;
∇ × ∇0 ` (a1 ≈
[vn+1 ] : s1 , . . . , a0m ≈
[vn+m ] : s0m ) .
∇ × ∇ ` (a1 ≈
Fresh subobjects: Define ∇≈
by applying (5) to (11). Then
ia∇ , ∇≈
` (a1 ≈
[v1 ] : s1 , . . . , an ≈
[vn ] : sn ) .
Proof. Many of the arrows used in this definition rely on Definition 5.5 for
their existence. Let’s take identity as an example: we need to show that
vi : si for 1 ≤ i ≤ n. Unsugaring, this asks that
∇ `T ai ≈
supp(~a )
`T vi ≈ (~a ~a0 ) vi : si
where ~a orders ai and ~a0 is a fresh copy. Now
ai ∪ supp(~a0 ) ≈
vi : si `T vi ≈ (~a ~a0 ) vi : si
by (susp), and then we use (weak) to get our result. The existence of the
other arrows follows similarly, using (subst) in the composition case.
Cl(T) is a category by Lemma 3.6. Checking Definition 4.1 for the internal
Perm-action is straightforward. Now taking the Cl(T)-arrow f as (12), and
applying Lemma 3.7, we get
[π · t1 ] : π · s1 , . . . , π · an ≈
[π · tn ] : π · sn ) .
π · f = π · ∇0 ` (π · a1 ≈
So the action of π on terms is the meta-level Perm-action of Definition 3.4.
But this is exactly the action under which terms are finitely supported. Freshness environments, finite lists of atoms and sorts themselves are similarly
finitely supported, and so our internal Perm-action is also. Checking the
equivariance of our finite products is straightforward.
Finally, we need to confirm our fresh subobjects obey Definition 4.15. (i)(iv) are clear. (v) asks that π∇≈ supp(π) is the identity so long as supp(π) # ∇.
This in turn asks that
` π vi ≈ vi : si
for 1 ≤ i ≤ n. This follows by (susp) and (weak). (vi) is simply an application of (atm-elim).
For (vii), say we have f as (12). The unique arrow fˆ can then only be
[t1 ] : s1 , . . . , an ∪ a ≈
[tn ] : sn ) .
∇0 ` (a1 ∪ a ≈
If this arrow exists, it clearly has the desired unique property. To confirm
that it exists asks that
∇ 0 ` T ai ∪ a ≈
ti : si .
∇ 0 ` T ai ≈
ti : si holds by construction; ∇0 `T a ≈
ti : si is equivalent to
`T ti ≈ (~a ~a0 ) ∗ ti : si
which is exactly the original commuting property of the diagram (7). These
two freshness judgements can then be unsugared and put together with
(subst) and (trans).
Definition 6.2. Define the generic algebra G by
(v1 : s)
(v1 : s1 , . . . , vn : sn ) ` (∅ ≈
[op v1 · · · vn ] : s)
for op : (s1 , . . . , sn ) → s. It is easy to prove that G is a T-algebra in Cl(T).
Theorem 6.3 (Completeness). Given a NEL-theory T, if ∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s is
satisfied by all T-algebras in all nominal Lawvere theories then ∇ `T t ≈ t0 : s.
Proof. If ∇ ` t ≈ t0 : s is satisfied by the generic algebra G in Cl(T) then
∇ `T t ≈ t0 : s by the definition of Cl(T)-arrows.
7. Category-theory correspondence
In this section we will derive the major results of the paper, giving accounts of algebras in terms of functors (Theorem 7.3) and NEL-theories in
terms of categories (Theorem 7.6).
Lemma 7.1. Given FM-categories C, C 0 and an algebra M ∈ ob C T , we can
define a functor, called the modelling functor, M (−) : F M (C, C 0 ) → C 0T
from the category of FM-functors C → C 0 (Definition 4.27) to the category of
T-algebras in C 0 (Definition 5.8), by
• M (F )JsK , F (M JsK) and M (F )JopK , F (M JopK);
• M (φ)s , φM JsK .
Proof. The maps s 7→ M (F )JsK and op 7→ M (F )JopK are equivariant by
Lemma 4.9, so M (F ) is a Σ-structure. Given t ∈ Σs (∇: ),
M (F )J∇ ` t : sK = F (M J∇ ` t : sK)
by induction on the structure of t, so if M ∈ ob C T then M (F ) ∈ ob (C 0 T ).
s 7→ M (φ)s is equivariant by Lemma 4.9, and (10) holds because natural
transformations between finite product preserving functors commute with
those products.
Lemma 7.2. Given ∇ as (11), a T-homomorphism h : M → M 0 , and a
term t ∈ Σs (∇: ),
× · · · × h≈
hs ◦ M J∇ ` t : sK = M 0 J∇ ` t : sK ◦ (hs≈
sn ) .
Proof. By induction on the structure of t.
Theorem 7.3. Given any NEL-theory T and FM-category C, there is an
F M (Cl(T), C) ∼
= CT
between the category of FM-functors Cl(T) → C (Definition 4.27) and the
category of T-algebras in C (Definition 5.8).
Proof. We will show that the modelling functor (Lemma 7.1) for the generic
algebra (Def. 6.2) is an isomorphism G(−) : F M (Cl(T), C) → C T . Let the
inverse G−1 (−) : C T → F M (Cl(T), C) be
G−1 (M )(∇)
G−1 (M )(f )
G−1 (h)∇
hM J∇0 ` a1 ≈
t1 : s1 K, . . . , M J∇0 ` an ≈
tn : sn Ki
hs1 × · · · × hsn .
where ∇ is (11), f : ∇0 → ∇ is (12) and hsi i is defined by Definition 4.25.
For any T-algebra M in C, G−1 (M ) is an FM-functor Cl(T) → C by Lemma
Given a T-homomorphism h : M → M 0 , we can show that
iai ◦ pri ◦ G−1 (M 0 )(f ) ◦ G−1 (h)∇0 = iai ◦ pri ◦ G−1 (h)∇ ◦ G−1 (M )(f )
by Lemma 7.2 and Definitions 4.25 and 5.5. But iai ◦ pri are jointly mono,
so G−1 (h) is a natural transformation G−1 (M ) →
˙ G−1 (M 0 ).
That G(G (−)) is the identity on C follows easily; the converse holds as
follows. Given an FM-functor F : Cl(T) → C and Cl(T)-object ∇ we have
G−1 (G(F ))(∇) = G(F )J∇K = F (GJ∇K) = F ∇ because F preserves finite
products and GJ∇K = ∇. Now iai ◦ pri ◦ G−1 (G(F ))(f ) = F (GJ∇0 ` ti : si K)
by (13), which equals F (∇ ` (∅ ≈
[ti ] : si )) = iai ◦ pri ◦ f . But iai ◦ pri
are jointly mono so we have equality on objects. Finally, given a natural
transformation φ : F →
˙ F 0 we must show that G−1 (G(φ))∇ = φ∇ . This
follows by applying iai ◦ pri to each side as above.
Definition 7.4. Given a nominal Lawvere theory C, define the signature
Sg(C) by setting SortSg(C) = ob C and
OpSg(C) , {f : (C1 , . . . , Cn ) → C | f : C1 × · · · × Cn → C ∈ ar C}
with Perm-actions defined via the internal Perm-action on C. We use smallness here, as our sorts and operation symbols must form nominal sets. Note
that one arrow can give rise to multiple operation symbols; for example,
f : C1 ×C2 → C induces operation symbols (C1 ×C2 ) → C and (C1 , C2 ) → C.
Let M (C) be the Sg(C)-structure in C which we define by M (C)JCK = C
and M (C)Jf K = f , then let T h(C) be the Sg(C)-theory whose axioms are all
the judgements that are satisfied by M (C), so M (C) is trivially an algebra of
C T h(C) .
T h(C) is called the internal language of C.
Remark 7.5. It is clear that nominal Lawvere theories require a (possibly
non-trivial) Perm-action on their objects; without this we could not adequately represent freshness environments in the classifying category. The
translation from nominal Lawvere theories back to NEL-theories, if it is not
to lose information, then requires that our sorts may form any nominal set.
Note that this is only a mild generalisation of previous presentations of NEL
[15], as by Example 2.6(i) any set may be considered a nominal set under
the trivial Perm-action.
Theorem 7.6. For any Nominal Lawvere Theory C there is an equivalence
Cl(T h(C)) ' C .
Proof. The equivalence functor is G−1 (M (C)) : Cl(T h(C)) → C, defined by
Definition 7.4 and (14). We will show that it is full, faithful and (essentially)
Full: Take any C-arrow f : G−1 (M (C))(∇0 ) → G−1 (M (C))(∇). Then
(v1 : G−1 (M (C))(∇0 )) ` (∅ ≈
[f v1 ] : G−1 (M (C))(∇))
is a Cl(T h(C))-arrow. Applying G−1 (M (C)) to this arrow gives us M (C)Jf K =
[t1 ] : C1 , . . .)
Faithful: Say we have Cl(T h(C))-arrows f = ∇0 ` (a1 ≈
and f 0 = ∇0 ` (a1 ≈
[t01 ] : C1 , . . .) so that G−1 (M (C))(f ) = G−1 (M (C))(f 0 ).
Applying the jointly mono iai ◦ pri to each side gives us M (C)J∇0 ` ti : Ci K =
M (C)J∇0 ` t0i : Ci K, so ∇0 `T h(C) ti ≈ t0i : Ci by definition and f = f 0 .
Surjective: For any C-object C, G−1 (M (C))(v1 : C) = C.
Remark 7.7. How about the converse of this theorem, which asks that
T ' T h(Cl(T)) ?
For this statement to make sense we need to have a good notion of theory
morphism T → T0 . What would such a morphism look like?
The definition of this is similar enough to the standard equational logic
case that we will not labour the details. Suppose that T, T0 are over signatures
Σ, Σ0 respectively. A signature morphism Σ → Σ0 is an equivariant map from
Σ-sorts to tuples of Σ0 -sorts and Σ-operation symbols to tuples of (properly
typed) Σ0 -operation symbols. These maps extend in the obvious ways to
maps from sorting environments, freshness environments, well-sorted terms,
and judgements of Σ to tuples of their equivalents in Σ0 . This signature
morphism is a theory morphism T → T0 if the T-axioms are sent to tuples of
Σ0 -judgements that are provably true in T0 .
A much more succinct (and, again, standard for equational logic) statement of this is that theory morphisms T → T0 are exactly the FM-functors
between their classifying categories, Cl(T) → Cl(T0 ). Under this definition
the ‘converse’ of Theorem 7.6 is actually a corollary of it, and so we have a
full correspondence between NEL-theories and nominal Lawvere theories.
8. Further Work
In this section we will briefly canvas five possible research directions that
build on the results of this paper.
Relationship with algebras for a monad. One concern about the results
presented above is that the constructions of Section 4 are quite complex and
are not special cases of standard category theory in any obvious way. The
theorems of Section 7 should nonetheless reassure us that these constructions
are the correct ones. However, it may still be the case that we could get to (an
equivalent definition of) Nominal Lawvere Theories by some more appealing
route. The most promising start to such a result seems to be [4], in which
universal algebra for monads is constructed abstractly in the category of
nominal sets. The equational logic which is extracted from this abstract
construction is larger than NEL and Nominal Algebra, but it is shown how
it can be cut down to a ‘uniform’ fragment that is equivalent to these logics.
It is an open question what a Lawvere theoretic account of theories for this
large non-uniform NEL would look like, and what the fragment of this logic
equivalent to NEL would look like from this point of view. The categorial
treatments of names in [39, 40] may also be applicable here.
Alternative equational presentations. As discussed in Remark 7.5 it is
essential to our development that Nominal Lawvere Theories are constructed
entirely internal to the category of nominal sets. In particular, we need
nominal sets of sorts in general. This is something of a shame, because the
examples we have of NEL theories tend to only need sets of sorts, and because
the relationship between this work and the closely related logic of Nominal
Algebra (NA) [20], which only has a set of sorts, becomes murky. Is there an
easy to state correspondence between NEL theories whose signatures have
sets only of sorts, and some subclass of Nominal Lawvere Theories? Once we
have this, we might also like to investigate the design choice of NA to employ
sets only of operation symbols, with the sole exception of atom constants:
elements of the nominal set A are used as constants over a specified name
sort. Under this view, the λ-abstraction operator lam is binary, accepting an
atom as its first argument and term as its second, and producing a term. The
name operator var is unary, sending an atom to a term. What conditions
must we place on Nominal Lawvere Theories to capture NEL theories with
these ‘NA-style’ restrictions?
Generalised Nominal Sets. Nominal sets are Perm-sets with the finite
support property. In the recent [41] it was shown that an analogue of the
finite support property can be defined for groups G other than Perm, and
that some of the G-nominal sets we can hence define have computational
applications, modelling automata on data words. This raises the intriguing
possibility that NEL, Nominal Lawvere Theories, and other developments
on nominal sets could be usefully generalised along these lines. This paper,
by teasing out the abstract structure of nominal equational reasoning, helps
to show where some of the difficulties of such generalisation might lie. Internal G-actions and equivariant finite products (Sections 4.1 and 4.2) pose
no problems, and that finite support (Section 4.3) can be generalised is the
point of [41]. However, fresh subobjects (Section 4.4) are more tricky, because Definition 4.15(v) requires that the group Perm itself forms a nominal
set. We could impose this condition, but it is not clear that there are useful
examples beyond Perm for which it holds.
Constructions on theories. The great advantage of Lawvere’s view over
the monad-based perspective is that equational theories become first class
mathematical entities, amenable to category theoretic manipulations. This
advantage has led to computational applications in recent years, as discussed
in [24]. We can now develop similar constructions on NEL theories. Some,
such as product and sum, seem fairly easy. Others, such as functor space
and separated product (a standard nominal sets operation where elements
are paired only when they have disjoint support) seem more technically demanding. Most importantly, we would like to have compelling applications
to motivate these constructions.
A general view of Lawvere theories. Generalising Lawvere Theories is
a relatively new topic, but has now given rise to a range of special purpose
Lawvere-like constructions for equational-like logics, such as those mentioned
in Section 1.4, and of course this paper. We have also seen generalisations de36
veloped from the point of view of the category theory [42]. We have however
not really seen these points of view brought together. Doing so represents
an ambitious but potentially fruitful future research direction.
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